Sunday, February 14, 2016

THE SWARM (1978)

Twenty-two million bees versus seven Oscar winners.

Celebrity-filled disaster movies were a big deal in the 1970's and THE SWARM definitely fits the bill for having a star-studded cast, but that story...ugh!  Clocking in at a unforgivable 155 minutes(!!!), THE SWARM opens with a military unit (lead by Richard Widmark) investigating a possible attack on a missile base.  Inside they find all of the soldiers dead and a lone civilian (Michael Caine) walking around looking smug.  That's pretty suspicious, but the explanation is quite clear: killer bees.  Duh!  Fast-forward a little bit and the city of Houston is threatened by millions of killer bees that have already wiped out a ton of people on their destructive path across Texas (which for some reason looks a lot like California). The military's solution is to the burn the entire city down with flamethrowers.

THE SWARM was a box office bomb (budget: $21m, ticket sales: $10m) when it was first unleashed into theaters and I can see why.  The story is dumb as hell, the pace is murder, the special effects are lame as fook, the bee attack scenes are goofy, the direction by Irwin Allen is abysmal and worst of all: it's straight up depressing to see such legendary classic Hollywood actors lowering themselves to appear in this turkey.  This was Fred MacMurray's last film for Christ's sake!  From DOUBLE INDEMNITY and THE APARTMENT to THE SWARM.  Sad.  On the other hand, it was kinda cool to see Richard Widmark shooting a flamethrower while covered in bees.

I also passed the time by playing a connect the dots movie game with the cast.  For example: GONE WITH THE WIND (Olivia De Havilland) to TERRORVISION (Alejandro Rey).  BLAZING SADDLES (Slim Pickens) to GOLDMEMBER (Michael Caine).  MULHOLLAND DRIVE (Lee Grant) to DEADLY PREY (Cameron Mitchell).  TERRORVISION (Alejandro Rey) to DEADLY PREY (Cameron Mitchell) to SURF II (Morgan Paull)!!!!! Or how about DONNIE DARKO (Katherine Ross) to AIRPORT '77 (Lee Grant) which could then jump to Jimmy Stewart in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and HARVEY. That's interesting since both DONNIE DARKO and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE are about suicide/visions of a alternative world and both DONNIE DARKO and HARVEY feature a large imaginary rabbit character. Yes, I was bored while watching this movie.

Michael Caine yelling and butting heads with Richard Widmark nonstop, flamethrowers inside a building, plot holes left and right, incorrect geography, cheap looking sets, dated special effects, overacting, horrendous dialogue, a potted plant on the outside of a skyscraper, Olivia De Havilland scream-moaning, Michael Caine and Henry Fonda having a conversation while their faces are like four inches apart, passenger cars on a train falling off a mountain (near Houston!) and exploding (...what would explode on a normal train car?), nighttime switching to daytime in the same scene (ambulance wreck scene), doors opening twice, dead body breathing, people stung to death with no visible wounds and guy pressing in a code on a keypad but missing the buttons.

Worth a watch for fans of cheesy movies. You'll definitely get a few chuckles out of it.

I guess this actor couldn't see because he's pressing the area next to the actual buttons.

The sign on the store window says "Clarance" but in the end credits Fred MacMurray's character is listed as "Clarence".