While the most enduring pop-culture artifact stemming from widespread mid-’70s paranoia about killer bees is undoubtedly the recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live depicting the striped insects as Mexican banditos, Hollywood cranked out a few overheated horror pictures on the subject, as well. Disaster-flick titan Irwin Allen was responsible for The Swarm (1978), a big-budget flop starring Michael Caine, and Roger Croman’s low-budget factory New World Pictures was responsible for this dud starring John Saxon. In fact, according to a book about New World, Warner Bros. paid New World to delay the release of The Bees until after The Swarm passed through theaters. In any event, The Bees is just as silly as the Allen production, only without the redeeming values of a kitschy cast and a melodramatic narrative. The Bees opens in Brazil, where crossbred bees attack their keepers at a ranch owned by an international conglomerate. (The murky setup tries to involve both accidental and intentional blending of insect species, resulting in a super-aggressive hybrid.) Soon after the deadly incident in Brazil, a scientist named Sandra Miller (Angel Tompkins) smuggles killer bees into New York, where she reports to John Norman (Saxon), head of a company angling to get a monopoly on the world’s honey supply. Or something. The plot is so stupid and turgid that parsing details isn’t worth the effort, and even trying to watch the movie for the “exciting” scenes is pointless. Once killer bees start rampaging across the United States, director Alfredo Zacarías employs cheap animation to show massive swarms passing landmarks, and he uses grainy stock footage to illustrate the military response. Meanwhile, Saxon gives stilted line readings and John Carradine, in a supporting role, speaks in some amateurish hodgepodge of European accents. The whole pathetic enterprise concludes (spoiler alert!) with the protagonist realizing the bees have learned to communicate, then addressing a general assembly of the UN with this urgent message: “You have to listen to what the bees have to say!” Sadly, just when the movie reaches campy terrain, it ends instead of going full-bore into craziness.
The Bees: LAME