Chadwick H. Saxelid | Concord, CA United States | 10/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE SWARM is a legendary flop from Irwin Allen, the kind that destroys careers. Hyped from here to the moon, and called "the most terrifying movie ever made" by Allen himself, prior to its release, scientists everywhere were worried that it would cause a mass panic about bees. Not quite. THE SWARM turned out to be a bad movie. Drop your jaw bad. A movie that makes you ask again and again "What made them think this would work!?" A movie so bad that it is capable of giving the bad movie lover a buzz akin to those given by other substances.When the always inept military finds a whole bunch of people dead at a nuclear missile base they think Chemical Warfare. Wrong. Turns out it was a huge swarm of mutated African Killer Bees from Brazil (The Bees from Brazil?) that has illegally immigrated to Texas and now threatens The World (or at least Houston, same thing).Stirling Silliphant's script is so incredibly bad that some b-movie fans put forth that THE SWARM is really a snide parody of 50s mutant bug flicks instead of a serious thriller (check out Ken Begg's 50s schlock check list in his review of the movie at jabootu.com). Either way it does a real disservice to Arthur Herzog's fine novel, which succeeds in being frightening. The direction by Irwin Allen is lethargic, too often the movie just sits there when it should be moving at a mile a minute, but then again that allows the bad movie lover to sit there and savor each rancid morsel of dialog for all its cheesy glory. On the plus side Jerry Goldsmith contributes yet another fine score for a bad movie. Highly recommended and, believe it or not, this is an essential flick for bad movie lovers everywhere."
"Will history blame me or the bees?"
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 10/02/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There's delusion on an epic scale on display in Irwin Allen's infamous The Swarm. It's not the worst of his oeuvre by a long way - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out are both much, much worse - but it's become the poster child for all the absurdities of the disaster genre at it's hokeyest. But then capsized ships with atom bombs aboard or volcanoes threatening hotel complexes can't compare to killer bees destroying nuclear power plants and causing train wrecks on the Richter Scale of movie absurdity. And it's a curiously second- and third-hand construction too - structurally Stirling Silliphant's script is surprisingly similar to his script for In the Heat of the Night. Okay, there weren't any bees in that one, but from the beginning where big city cop Sidney Poitier is discovered at a murder scene and immediately treated as a suspect by hard-case racist cop Rod Steiger until he gradually learns to respect his expertise, it's being used as a template, with sunflower seed munching entomologist Michael Caine discovered in a missile silo full of dead bodies by hard-case xenophobic general Richard Widmark, who immediately suspects him of their deaths until he gradually learns to respect his expertise (how can you not love a film where Bradford Dillman asks "Can we count on a scientist who prays?" only for Widmark to respond "I wouldn't count on one that didn't"?).
But this isn't a film about trust or even narrative, it's about miscast and affordable stars getting stung to death in slow-motion by what look like bits of oatmeal painted black and fired at them by air-cannons. It's a film about hallucinating patients being menaced by imaginary giant bees. It's a film about military complexes with lots of flashing lights. It's a film about bad acting in the face of insurmountably inane dialogue ("Are you endowing these bees with human motives? Like saving their fellow bees from captivity, or seeking revenge on Mankind?" "I always credit my enemy, no matter what he may be, with equal intelligence." and "Billions of dollars have been spent to make these nuclear plants safe. Fail-safe! The odds against anything going wrong are astronomical, Doctor!" "I appreciate that, Doctor. But let me ask you. In all your fail-safe techniques, is there a provision for an attack by killer bees?" are just the tip of the iceberg). It's about bad fashion sense - this being the 70s, the decade that taste forgot, amid a preponderance of trouser flairs there are a lot of earth tones and oranges amid the costumes, so it's entirely possible that the bees simply mistook the actors for flowers waiting to be pollinated. And it's all done with a gloriously straight face and even, on a few rare occasions, some technical competence - Irwin Allen may have loved schmaltz, but he had a great visual sense when dealing with military hardware and there are some genuinely impressive shots in the picture when he gets to play with the toys. Unfortunately his handling of the actors is much more mechanical, with the old guard (Widmark, Olivia DeHavilland, Henry Fonda, Ben Johnson) faring better than poor old Caine and Katherine Ross. And, like many bad films, it's topped off by a superb score, one of Jerry Goldsmith's very best from his golden period. Much more fun than it's good to admit, the proposed remake has a lot to live up to.
Warners' DVD is pretty good - the extended two-and-a-half hour cut in 2.35:1 widescreen from the old laserdisc release with a 1978 22-minute TV featurette on the making of the film plus the original trailer - but the sound, while acceptable, lacks much range."
"Oh my God! Bees! Millions of bees!"
Dymon Enlow | 10/12/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This review is for the 156 minute version.
I rented this thinking it was the one with the bees in the Superdome, but no that was THE SAVAGE BEES. Instead I got 2 1/2 hours of Michael Caine looking like he wanted to kill himself for taking this movie. It really is that bad. My eyes were sore from rolling them so much.
How exactly do you assemble such an impressive cast and still make an epically bad film? Answer: you give them a script that is so horrible it would make Ed Wood's head spin. Don't believe me? This movie features not one but two separate scenes were it instantly switches from day to night. How about hanging plants on the outside of a skyscraper? Or a guy in a wheelchair kicking open a door?
The pain begins with the Army finding civilian Michael Caine inside a locked underground military facility. He's alive and everybody else is dead of invisible bee stings. Why he's alive and how he got there is never explained. The President decides that since Caine just happens to be a bee expert to put him in charge of the Army's campaign to destroy the killer bees. Around 40,000 deaths later (I'm not joking) the Army takes control and they attack the billions of bees - that have now taken over Houston - with flamethrowers! Somebody got paid to write this?!
Fred MacMurray and Richard Chamberlain were the only ones that walked away from this wreck unscathed. Everybody else, even the great Henry Fonda should be embarrassed. "
SO CHEESY IT'S A BLAST!
Chadwick H. Saxelid | 01/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For sheer audacity, this is another classic howler from Irwin Allen`s epic disaster back catalogue! Michael Caine and Katharine Ross get all the unintentionally hilarious lines(CAINE: I never dreamed it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friends.) And these bees begin the movie by showing who really rules the skies by invading a nuclear missile silo and attacking the launch crew. They proceed to cause helicopter crashes(yes, that is in the plot!), attack a picnicking all-American family(yeeaahhh) and invade a town during its annual flower festival, causing many victims to run around like penguins trying to fly and fall all over the place looking utter idiots. As the military and scientists' attempts to wipe out the bees are miserable failures, the deadly swarm cause a spectacular train crash(special effects by the local model train shop), and much more mayhem. Then they head for (gulp!) HOUSTON! Can the all-star cast save the day??? We know the outcome, but if you would like an absolute laugh riot(I want to see the extended version myself!) and like to watch well-known names try to deadpan their way through some of the most unintentionally hilarious dialogue ever written for the screen, then this is the cheesy 1970s classic for you! The novel, by Arthur Herzog, incidentally, is much better."
So absolutely horrible its entertaining
James D. Leverton | San Marcos, CA USA | 08/28/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
""The Swarm" (1978) was a box-office disaster when it was originally released. And no wonder, what with its bottom-of-the-barrel special effects, absolutely horrible, illogical script by Stirling Silliphant and direction by Irwin Allen that shows none of the professionalism or pacing of his best films--namely, "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno." What's more, in its original, 115-minute form, it appears to have been edited by a meat cleaver and jumps from one calamity to another with such abruptness that after a while everything becomes laughable. Yet, I actually have a certain fondness for the thing, especially in its expanded, 156-minute DVD version, which is actually an improvement, basically since it is better paced and the characters and situations prove more tolerable. Yes, it is still a horrible film, but also oddly entertaining, much like watching William Hung on "American Idol." You know it stinks but you're fascinated anyway.
The film plays on '70's paranoia in its depiction of an invasion of the desert southwest by a huge swarm of bees. The cast is large and full of disaster movie veterans and legendary big-screen hasbeens, most of whom show up just long enough to be killed by the bees. Actually, the film is best-known for featuring Michael Caine, in one of two consecutive screen megabombs (the other being "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure") which would have killed any other career; fortunately, he survived the debacles and went on to win two Oscars and become one of our greatest screen actors. His main support comes from Katharine Ross and Richard Widmark, whose careers unfortunately did not recover. The rest of the cast shall remain nameless, since the surviving players are probably still embarassed by their performances, which usually end with their characters attacked by bees, flailing their arms and screaming in slow motion before falling to the ground. At least those are the lucky ones. Others are blown up in train crashes or nuclear power plants, which are illogically overpowered by the bees, which resemble those little chocolate sprinkles you put on ice cream.
The plot? Are you kidding? The United States is invaded by killer bees from Africa. People die. Whole towns are lost. Houston is evacuated. The entire cast dies, except Caine and Ross, who evidently are immune to the bees since they manage to escape Houston by simply putting a towel over their heads while everyone else dies. All of this directed with incredible incompetence by Irwin Allen, who managed to make "The Towering Inferno" look like "Titanic" in comparison.
There's no use discussing the cast since everyone is simply picking up a paycheck. Michael Caine once said he made the film so he could build a house and he ended up with a lousy film and a beautiful house. Judging by the jokes he's endured for this atrocity, the "Poseidon" sequel, and especially, "Jaws the Revenge," he earned the house. Luckily for the viewer, the ineptitude is actually entertaining at times, and funnier than most of today's so-called comedies, so who can begrudge him?
Incidentally, this film was scored by the great, incomparable composer Jerry Goldsmith, who passed away last week. Tellingly, "The Swarm" was not mentioned when the highlights of his career were discussed. I wonder why?
In all, "The Swarm" is horrible. So horrible, in fact, it is entertaining. Now, as for "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure"---
** (out of *****), simply because it's so damned funny. And if you care? Panavision widescreen, with no other features. My opinion? Raquel Welch did a commentary track to "Myra Breckinridge" which was eons better than the film. What about it, Mike? Ready to buy a new house?"