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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 »





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 climates, 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 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, Texas. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This is more than a movie. It's a prediction! 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?


Publicity for this movie stated that the number of bees in the cast was twenty-two million. See more »


In the background, a paralyzed scientist in a wheelchair kicks a door open. See more »


General Thalius Slater: Give me some of that birdseed.
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

DVD and laserdisc release includes 40 minutes of footage not included on the theatrical release. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Utter nonsense that is almost worth seeing once just to have seen it
18 July 2007 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Normally I would start a comment by writing a plot summary. I find it helps focus my mind on the film and also saves me coming up with a smart way to start a review. However in doing this with The Swarm I would feel that I had invested more effort and care in the writing than those making it had, so I shan't bother in this case and instead I'll cut to the chase and say that this is simply one of the worse studio disaster movies I have ever sat through. I mean, I know the genre was big business at the time but by any stretch of the imagination this is a rather cynical attempt to get on a bandwagon.

As was almost always the case when he was writing regularly, prolific author Theo Robertson has beaten me to it by already doing a great job of summing up the reason why this film is all at once terrible but yet also worth seeing. The most obvious problem is that it is hard to really make a threat out of something that is either one big massive cloud or, up close, basically a bee. The film cannot overcome this obstacle and so we are left with scenes of people flaying around and then falling over dead. The body count is high but I felt nothing – not even once.

So with a poor story and no tension, why do both myself and Theo think this is worth a bit of your time. Well, to put it simply, you really do need to see it to appreciate how howlingly bad some of it is. It is most obvious in the effects and the story but there are other joys to be had here. The dialogue is, at best, serviceable but it is regularly clunky and unnatural. Hearing Michael Caine lamenting that he "never thought it would be the bees" was great stuff but his solemn final lines about buying time for the world is about the worst way I've seen a film come to a close. With dialogue like this, it is no surprise that the performances are roundly terrible.

Caine is mostly OTT and how he managed to do it all with a straight face is beyond me. Of course he is out-hammed by many of his colleagues, not least of which a terrible turn from Juttner – OK he was a kid but surely there were better kids out there at the time? The stars line up to deliver bad dialogue with Ross, Widmark, Chamberlain, Ferrer, Pickens, Fonda and others all line up to get in a "big" movie, no matter what the cost.

Overall then this is a terrible film – a genre movie that forced a bad product into a popular market in order to cash in. However the bad performances, misfiring threat and generally bad dialogue are such that it is almost worth seeing just to experience it yourself (please note though – I said almost).

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