THE SAVAGE BEES (1976)
Article 3044 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-7-2009
Posting Date: 12-14-2009
Directed by Bruce Geller
Featuring Ben Johnson, Michael Parks, Paul Hecht
What it is: Killer Bee Thriller
A boat from Brazil inadvertently brings a swarm of killer bees to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
I haven’t seen every killer bee movie ever made yet, but I’d have to say that I think the TV-Movies did a better job with the concept than the theatrical ones. This one does a nice job of following different story threads at the beginning, with a sheriff investigating the death of his dog, a ship that is mysteriously bereft of crew, and a child who goes to church and doesn’t come back. Granted, it isn’t really that mysterious (once the title comes up, you know what’s tying them all together), but it’s solid, well-acted, and does a decent job of giving you the willies. It flirts a little with the theme of stalling bureaucrats, though it really doesn’t develop the theme fully and instead keeps focused on the action at hand. Ben Johnson does a great job as the sheriff doing his best in difficult circumstances, and James Best pops up in a small role as one of the aforementioned bureaucrats. This TV-Movie was popular enough to spawn a sequel, TERROR OUT OF THE SKY. I have to give special notice to Norman E. Gary, the bee wrangler for this movie (which used hundreds of thousands of real bees) and to the gutsy cast who often allow themselves to be enveloped by their tiny co-stars. There were very few bee-related injuries on the set.