Today I made a new friend. A beautiful bumble-bee landed on my igloo window ledge!
The poor little mite was shivering with cold as I picked it up and bought it over to the glow of the fire for warmth. Tenderly, I wrapped it in a tiny blanket and gave it several drops of medicinal brandy with an eye-dropper.
“I shall call you Basil.” I declared, “We shall go on such adventures together you and I Basil! Why, with you at my side I shall…”
Suddenly Basil leapt up and stung me slap bang in the middle of the gangrenous wound where my nose used to be.
“NNNYYYAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!” I continued, as I beat Basil to death with a nearby frying pan.
“Shame on me!” I wailed, “I’ve killed my only friend!”
That’s the fourth best friend I’ve killed in less than 5 years, come to think of it. Is this one of the reasons why I’m still igloo-bound?
THE SWARM (1979)
Brad Crane: “We've been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I'd see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamt that it would turn out to be the bees…” (petulantly) “They've always been our friend!”
The Swarm raises an interesting question – for a film to be considered truly bad, does it need to have big stars and a huge budget?
If the answer is 'yes', then The Swarm delivers, with Michael Caine in the lead role (as Dr. Crane), supported by the likes of Henry Fonda, Richard Chamberlain and Richard Wydmark. Not to mention Olivia De Havilland. And the one that wasn't Mrs Robinson from The Graduate.
General Slater: “Houston on fire. Will history blame me, or the bees?”
I have a theory. Namely, that the problem with The Swarm is that it tries to be a disaster movie rather than a monster movie. If it had taken it’s cue from 'Tarantula' rather than 'Towering Inferno', things woulda, coulda and shoulda been a whole lot better:
John Agar wouldn’t take 156 minutes of The Swarm’s ridiculously elongated running time to save the world. He’d grin, wisecrack, smoke endless cigarettes and beat the monster to a pulp without breaking into a sweat in barely over an hour. And he’d still make some time to get the girl.
Roll on 20 years and we’ve got a strange Michael Caine performance where he alternates between speaking ever so slowly and quietly – like he’s on valium – and shouting hysterically and jabbing his finger whenever he speaks to General Slater (Richard Wydmark).
Major Baker: “Can we really count on a scientist who prays?”
General Slater: “I wouldn't count on one who doesn't.”
Caine just mooches around without a plan as the death toll rises to an impressively ridiculous level. And he muses a lot. He mooches and muses. "Tut! Who could have guessed that the first alien invasion of America would be by bees?" he mutters without a care in the world as news of 30,000 fatalities – caused solely by his lack of coming up with an Agar-esque plan - comes over the radio.
Brad Crane: “Bees! Thousands of ‘em!”
Eventually – after lots of mooching, musing and a few pointless sub-plots (like an octogenarian love triangle that goes off the rails in spectacular fashion) Caine/Crane stumbles upon a winning plan and saves the day. At least… for the time being… will The Swarm ever be back?
Actually, yes they will if new of a remake comes to pass. Let’s hope the dialogue remains intact. And that Clint Eastwood napalms The Swarm’s sorry ass in the closing shot.
END CREDITS: 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.
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