Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bees! Bees! Millions of Bees!

Do you realize that this year is the 30th anniversary of Irwin Allen's The Swarm?

The Swarm is probably the worst movie of the '70s if not ever, and since it has a huge all-star cast of distinctive actors who are all embarrassing themselves, it's one of the easiest movies to mock. There's something terrible not just in every scene but in every moment. But since a big-studio movie like this wasn't available to the MST3K guys, the most detailed Swarm mockeries have appeared online.

I used to think that the biggest and longest Swarm-o-phobic piece was Ken Begg's epic scene-by-scene summary.

But later I came upon another review which may be even longer: This gigantic, rant-tastic piece by someone calling himself "Trick Lobster."

I actually enjoyed the zonked-out, stream-of-consciousness approach in the "Trick Lobster" piece more than Ken Begg's more sober-minded, even serious analysis. Of course it's an acquired taste but I can't pass up a review that includes lines like this:

Under the trees with the bees comes Paul, a kid with a Dorothy Hamill bowl cut whose parents call him "Paul" in every sentence so that we know he's important.

There hasn't been a sweaty person for a whole 2 minutes, and if we have learned anything about The Swarm, it's that there's always a bee around the corner and a sweaty guy screaming.

THAT'S what you get for messing with the SATANIC BEE POWERS of FRED MACMURRAY, you little bastard!


Anonymous said...

There's only one thing worse than sitting through THE SWARM..sitting through the extended cut of THE SWARM!

Anonymous said...

Brian is right.

I was astonished when a longer version of THE SWARM turned up on home video. While Columbia claims it discarded and lost the material cut shortly after the premiere of its 1973 LOST HORIZON (the other real candidate for worst movie of the '70s), amazingly, Warners kept and preserved Allen's long version of THE SWARM, apparently shown publicly only at an early preview. Give WB ten points for historical preservation... but no points for the extended version of the film, which is indeed actually worse than the released movie.

When Warners prepared to open THE SWARM with much hoopla in the Summer of 1978, I saw the trailer and wondered whether the picture could be as bad as the preview promised. It was, of course, not a good sign that Irwin Allen had returned to the director's chair. Allen was a genuinely terrible movie director -- even thinking of his THE STORY OF MANKIND, THE LOST WORLD and FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON hurts my head. Still, I foolishly assumed that Allen had learned something about filmmaking during his tenure as a successful producer of basically releasable disaster movies.

Wrong. Jaime is correct on all counts on the picture.

I would respectfully point out that Henry Fonda's big scene -- when he tests the anti-bee venom formula on himself -- is actually fairly well acted. By that I mean it's the only scene in the movie that isn't truly terrible; it stands out, you pay attention. Of course, it's over in perhaps a minute, and the picture resumes its usual (insane) course.

My favorite scene: Richard Chamberlain confronting nuclear power plant magnate Jose Ferrer about the imminent danger from the bees. The set is absurd -- a '50s TV show's idea of a nuclear plant, with an open atomic pile! Chamberlain enters, trying to warn Ferrer, who will have none of it. The plant is completely fail-safe, he says (smugly). Chamberlain asks (insolently) whether it's protected against an attack by...KILLER BEES! Cue the alarm -- the bees attack, panic ensues, the plant explodes.

It's one of the funniest sequences in any film of the 1970s.