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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The epitome of 70s star-filled disaster movies
"And I never dreamed that it would turn turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend."

So said a bemused Michael Caine in The Swarm, one of the last of the 70s disaster movies, that forgotten genre which crammed as many fading stars as possible into a large supporting cast and then wreaked havoc upon them. In this case, the great and good...
Published on 29 Nov 2000

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Will history blame me or the bees?"
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...
Published on 2 Oct 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The epitome of 70s star-filled disaster movies, 29 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Swarm [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"And I never dreamed that it would turn turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend."

So said a bemused Michael Caine in The Swarm, one of the last of the 70s disaster movies, that forgotten genre which crammed as many fading stars as possible into a large supporting cast and then wreaked havoc upon them. In this case, the great and good (Caine, Katherine Ross, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray) are up against a particularly violent swarm of killer bees.

Director Irwin Allen was the undisputed king of the disaster movies, producing both The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, the two most enduring examples of stars-in-danger, but his fortunes were going downhill by the time he directed The Swarm. Unfairly panned at its time of release, it's actually an enjoyable Sunday-afternoon film, perfect for a couple of hours mindless entertainment. The older cast members are a particular delight, and only Richard Chamberlain really lets the side down, overplaying his role to the hilt.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Will history blame me or the bees?", 2 Oct 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
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-assed 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-assed 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.

The DVD is a fairly good value package - the extended two-and-a-half hour cut from the laserdisc release, a hokey 22-minute making of documentary and the original trailer ("It's more than speculation - it's a prediction!"). The 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is good, though the sound range is not quite as good as it could be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Languages and subtitles, 8 Nov 2007
By 
Mauricio Dupuis (Bassano del grappa (vicenza) Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
THE SWARM (1978)
(Zone 2)
directed by Irwin Allen
Music composed by Jerry Goldsmith

LANGUAGES: ENGLISH
SUBTITLES: ENGLISH - FRENCH - FINNISH - ICELANDIC - SWEDISH - CZECH -
GREEK - POLISH - TURKISH - ROMANIAN - DUTCH
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I always credit my enemy, no matter what he may be, with equal intelligence.", 12 April 2012
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
The seventies was the decade of the disaster movie, with such classic classics as Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure showcasing the genre and the like of Beyond The Poseidon Adventure and The Swarm representing the less celebrated end. The Swarm was a bomb at the time and has since been panned by critics and Michael Caine (who claims it was his worst film), but despite the numerous failings it has a so-bad-it's-good quality which makes it watchable.

You realise what sort of film this is early on when we see a few bees hit the window of a helicopter and the pilot yells that he's losing control as the chopper plunges into the side of a hill, the main weakness of this film is that you are never convinced of the peril the film tries to instil. Because of that, the film looks like a spoof a-la 'Airplane!' even though it isn't. The ridiculous premise undermines what could otherwise have been emotionally powerful moments and instances of high tension look like deadpan comedy. I watched this as part of a Michael Caine-athon I've been having, and fellow Michael Caine fans will love his performance here - he's the most Caine-esque you'll ever see; he looks and sounds like a caricature of himself and his passionate delivery concerning killing innocent American bees is surely the perfect starting point for anyone perfecting their Michael Caine impression. The visual effects are mostly okay except for any scenes involving bees, especially giant imaginary ones resulting from sting-induced hallucinations and the actual 'swarm' is clearly superimposed over the background. There are some fantastically implausible scenes in the film, from convenient coincidences ("Cardio-pep? I've just read an article in the medical journal about Cardio-pep!") to ludicrously over-dramatic reactions ("We have been invaded, by an enemy far more lethal than any human force.") but curiously - these weaknesses give the film a great kitsch value now.

In a nutshell: This clearly isn't a great film and it has so many badly thought out moments which are supposed to be serious but actually look laughable - though if you watch it with tongue firmly in cheek then it's incredibly entertaining and this extended two and a half hour version never drags. If instead of bees the threat was a virus, or aliens, or wasps (only joking about the last one) then this could have been a pretty great '70s disaster flick. Or even better, if it had been devised as a comedy with Caine still playing it deadpan - we'd have a classic comedy to rival the likes of Airplane! This should probably get 2 stars but I can't help but enjoy this film, so I give it 3.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEELINE FOR TROUBLE, 22 July 2009
By 
June Rough (nottingham, england,uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
ANOTHER WELL MADE MOVIE THAT CAUSED ME TO SIT ON THE EDGE OF MY SOFA, IN AWE OF MILLIONS OF BEES. GOOD ACTING AND REALISTIC--EVEN THE BEES WERE BRILLIANT ACTORS! ALTHOUGH I WOULD HATE TO BE CAUGHT IN A SWARM OF BEES IN REALITY, THEY DO MAKE BRILLIANT MOVIES.
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5.0 out of 5 stars cool, 1 July 2014
This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
good dvd
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3.0 out of 5 stars After towering infernos, overturned liners, crumbling metropolises and the like what's next? Bees? Why not?, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Swarm (1978 Michael Caine) region 2 import (DVD)
Whilst never reaching the dizzying heights of the glass tower or plumbling the depths of the ocean or reducing an entire city to rubble this film delivers the goods with some superb attack set pieces. However it never really satisfies fully. But it's still watchable with a typically entertaining turn from Mr. Caine.
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4.0 out of 5 stars the swarm, 6 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Swarm (1978 Michael Caine) region 2 import (DVD)
tongue in cheek disaster type movie, however found it very watchable with a prestigous cast including michael caine and Richard Widmark
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This movie is unBEElievable! (that was just a joke), 15 April 2004
This review is from: The Swarm [DVD] (DVD)
This film, directed by Irwin Allen (of the The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure fame)is an anti-classic of the highest order BEEcause (sorry, that's a stupid joke, I know) the acting (from a cast featuring 7 Oscar winners) is, on the whole, absolutely terrible and unintentionaly funny. Interestingly, the DVD also features a documentary which considers the story of thousands of bees attacking America some sort of prediction. It is really hard to keep a straight face with Michael Caine being enthusiastic about this film. (I suppose Ed Wood was very enthusiastic about Plan 9 From Outer Space) A must for all BEE-movie (I have really got to stop doing that) fans.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear of a Black Planet, 20 May 2013
This review is from: The Swarm [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Spoiler warning! Spoiler warning! Spoiler warning!

Why do people call "The Swarm" a disaster? I mean, it *is* a disaster movie, right? The corny plot revolves around Texas being invaded by vicious killer bees. Not content with killing peaceful Texans on picnic, they derail trains, make a nuclear power plant explode and wipe out several towns in gruesome fashion. Eventually, the bugs are lured out to sea, where they are incinerated en masse in a dramatic finale. What more can you ask for, LOL.

"The Swarm" is also fascinating - if that's the right word for it - as cultural studies. Is it really about killer bees? Or is the lethal insect simply a metaphor for something else entirely? The film ends with the following bizarre statement: "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." I'm not the only person who suspects that "African killer bee" means "Blacks, Hispanics and illegal aliens". Not to mention Communists.

If anything, this subconscious racism is the real disaster!

On a deeper level, I think modern Westerners consider killer bees to be a scandal. Honeybees are supposed to be our docile servants, "hard-working" and "industrious" in their unselfish service to Western civilization. Yet, here comes a bee that aggressively defends its honey, kills intruders and couldn't care less about feeding our nation. Small wonder people are upset. Especially if the pesky bug turns out to come from sub-Saharan Africa, that liminal zone beyond proper civilization and decorum...

Killer bees remind us that we're not really in charge around here anymore. Maybe we never were.
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