Wednesday, 20 February 2013

No.71 : The Swarm





The Swarm at IMDb

The 1970s saw a spate of disaster movies, but none can be more disastrous than ‘The Swarm’.

Producer Irwin Allen attempted to use his tried and tested formula of having a heap of famous faces running around and getting killed but sadly he got stung on this outing.

The film opens with a special forces unit advancing on an underground base. The first five minutes is a dialogue free as the tension is ratcheted up - what will they find? Eventually they descend to find, as you’d expect, bodies everywhere. The cause is unclear but soon Michael Caine resplendent in green turtle neck and safari suit falls out a cupboard and offers some much needed exposition.

Cain plays Brad an entomologist who was tracking some bees and decided to have a look in case they visited the secret base. Of course they did but that didn’t explain how Caine could Waltz in while the special forces team had to use Ids and key codes.

Blustery General Richard Widmark splutters in disbelief but soon the president has given Caine a free pass to combat the threat. He calls in reinforcements in the shape of ‘bad boy’ bee man Richard Chamberlain and Katharine Ross who inexplicably falls for Caine and his turtle neck.

Hopefully things will not escalate, but wait! The local town is having a flower festival just as the bees move in! After an initial skirmish were a family get stung to death the surviving boy plots his revenge with petrol bombs - HUGE mistake. The pissed off bees immediately head to the flower festival to sting the crap out of anyone they find - and their stings are the slow motion kind - surely the worst of all?

After a laughable attack on a toy train set, that sees the deaths of both Fred MacMurray and Olivia de Havilland, Michael deploys his poison pellets. Widmark’s plan to gas the lot was shouted down by Caine who gave a triumphant speech in praise of the good old American bee. But alas the bees are too smart to eat the poison - they prefer poignant lollypops held by vunerable kiddies.

Back at base, Henry Fonda the crippled poisons guru, is injecting himself with venom to try and discover an antidote - better watch out or laughable bee hallucinations will bee coming your way! With the swarm heading to a nuclear plant and then onto Houston how many more deaths will Caine’s vidi-printer report before they realise a big pot of jam would solve the problem just fine?

This is a truly dreadful film with performances and dialogue that have to be seen to be believed. The bee attack effects are OK in close up but apart from that the model work and slow motion deaths are the worst you will see.

The main culprit is Caine, who although just in it for the paycheque, is never worse than the quick to anger but still loveable bee specialist who has a taste for sunflower seeds. Next up is Fonda who was shameful as the crippled Doc who takes the venom to save the day. If they were playing for laughs it’d have been no less believable.

Down the cast we get Katharine Ross who despite being high up in the military goes all girly for Caine and his orange van. Also good for a chortle is Dr Kildare who keeps a straight face while asking a nuclear power station manager “Have you made any provision against an attack of killer bees?”.

I know this review may make it sound like a bit of fun but beware it’s two and a half hours of cringe making shite that I had to watch in chunks, lest I go and stick my head in a beehive myself.

Best Bit : “Those are my poison pellets goddamn it ” 31%

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