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The Swarm (1978)

PG | | Horror, Thriller | 14 July 1978 (USA)
2:13 | Trailer

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A huge swarm of deadly African bees spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people.


Irwin Allen


Arthur Herzog III (novel) (as Arthur Herzog), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Brad Crane
Katharine Ross ... Captain Helena Anderson
Richard Widmark ... General Slater
Richard Chamberlain ... Dr. Hubbard
Olivia de Havilland ... Maureen Schuester
Ben Johnson ... Felix
Lee Grant ... Anne MacGregor
José Ferrer ... Dr. Andrews (as Jose Ferrer)
Patty Duke ... Rita (as Patty Duke Astin)
Slim Pickens ... Jud Hawkins
Bradford Dillman ... Major Baker
Fred MacMurray ... Mayor Clarence
Henry Fonda ... Dr. Walter Krim
Cameron Mitchell ... General Thompson
Christian Juttner ... Paul Durant


Killer bees from South America have been breeding with the gentler bees of more northern climes, slowly extending their territory northward decade after decade. Entomologist Brad Crane has discovered that something is making them come together in huge, killer swarms. He wants to keep the General Slater from using military tactics from further upsetting the balance of nature as they join to try to stop the swarms from approaching Houston. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Monsters by the millions - and they're all for real! See more »


Horror | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

14 July 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der tödliche Schwarm See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$21,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (extended)

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Throughout principal photography the bees had to be constantly replaced as their average life-span was only six to seven weeks. See more »


When testing the anti venom on himself, the scientist places only one chest wire on himself which would make it impossible to monitor his "z-score" as stated because at least 3 leads would be needed. In addition, the compound is stated to be administered in an "auto-injector" when the instrument shown on screen was nothing more than a 1930s vintage hypodermic needle and syringe. See more »


Brad Crane: We've been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I'd see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Disclaimer in closing credits: The African killer bee portrayed in this film bears absolutely no relationship to the industrious hard-working American honey bee to which we are indebted for pollinating vital crops that feed our nation. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK "12" certificate video release is the 155m version of this film (also shown on US TV) which was released in cinemas at 116m (with a "PG" certificate). Some of the additional footage is as follows:
  • more of the 3 way courtship between DeHavilland, Johnson & MacMurray
  • a hilarious scene in which the military inspect the attacked picnic site and Michael Caine comments on the bees' biting abilities
  • several additional scenes of Caine and Katharine Ross driving back and forth between the military bunker and the town and chatting about developments as they do
  • the death scene of the little boy whose parents were killed and who subsequently firebombed the swarm - in the short version he is in hospital and you assume he's survived although he's not seen again. he has a relapse and dies in the long version.
  • various extra footage of Caine and Ross going to the HQ in Houston
  • when Henry Fonda is killed there is an additional shot of a huge superimposed bee which he sees at the moment of death
  • an additional subplot near the end of the film in which Ross has a relapse and nearly dies from her earlier bee sting. This is why she's lying in a bed when Caine rescues her from the burning building. This sub-plot has several short scenes including one when Bradford Dillman and Richard Widmark see Caine praying by her bed - once he sees that Caine believes in God Widmark knows he's a good chap and instructs Dillman to "Close that dossier" (the dossier has been constantly referred to by Widmark but was left as an unresolved plot hole in the theatrical cut).
See more »


Remade as The Swarm See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Reach for the Windex!
13 December 2003 | by bwaynefSee all my reviews

Whenever I bother to watch "The Swarm," I'm always tempted to get out the Windex and spray the TV screen until I remember those dark smudges are supposed to be killer bees, the star attraction of what proved to be disaster flick king Irwin Allen's last box-office hit (and a modest one at that). That's the number one problem with this movie. How can killer bees incite terror in the viewer when they only amount to a bunch of dots on the screen?

Since the "horror" has no sting, the only thing left to do is gawk at the movie stars. Give Allen credit. Even if he wasn't much of a director (this film marked his debut in that capacity), and was strictly a schlockmeister as a producer, he did what many others, including the producers of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," had tried and failed to do when he brought megastars Steve McQueen and Paul Newman together to headline "The Towering Inferno." The lineup for "The Swarm" doesn't have quite the same star power, but we do get Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, and Richard Widmark, as well as cameos by Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray, along with the TV names that always round out these "all-star casts." If star watching doesn't keep you occupied, Allen's dreadful direction may keep you glued to your chair in bewilderment by his idea of style. My favorite scene is the first confrontation between bee expert Caine and short-tempered military man Widmark. While the two stars argue back and forth, the camera slowly circles the pair as if something very dramatic is taking place. It must be the worst staging of a scene since Ed Wood was grinding out another kind of B movie. But Wood's movies were more entertaining than "The Swarm," and although there are more unintended laughs to come, there not enough to combat the boredom.

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