"Mr. Allen might just as well have devoted his talents to man-eating goldfish, poodles on the rampage or carniverous canaries."— Janet Maslin from The New York Times
The Swarm (or fully known as Irwin Allen's Production of - The Swarm) is a 1978 American disaster-horror action thriller film that was directed and produced by Irwin Allen, who was a producer of disaster movies of The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno. It features all-star casts, Michael Caine (who would later star as Hoagie Newcombe in Jaws: The Revenge, and some Christopher Nolan film's like The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Tenet in 2020), Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, José Ferrer, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Bradford Dillman, Fred MacMurray, and Henry Fonda. In this movie, a group of characters, including Brad Crane teams up with General Slater to use military tactics to stop a swarm of bees from reaching and destroying their city with venom.
The movie was announced in 1974 at the peak of the disaster movie craze, and the movie went been production for over four years. The movie keeps being in development hell several times, and especially because that Irwin Allen had left 20th Century Fox for Warner Bros. to keep the production of this movie. When the movie was finally released on July 14, 1978, however, it received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and audiences alike and It is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made, if not the worst entry in Irwin Allen's disaster film series ever, with a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it was unable to get its budget back, and it only makes 7 million against its 11 million budget and was considered a box office failure. It was the most hated disaster movie until Beyond the Poseidon Adventure was released almost a year later as it received even more worst reviews than The Swarm had.
The movie opens with a group of soldiers led by Major Baker (Bradford Dillman) investigated the basement level of a missile base, when they got inside, all of the people were inside were already dead. They decided to take control of the basement, and scientist, Dr. Bradford Crane (Michael Caine) is found, and he's one of the few survivors of the attack, but not someone stationed at the base, meanwhile, the two helicopters were on their way to the base, but the two helicopters crashed by the swarm of killer bees, killing all of the pilots and their crew. At the picnic table, Paul and her family having a picnic, but the bees interrupt it and kill Paul's family. He gets away from the bees by driving his family car to get back to town and crashes into Marysville, Texas, where the citizens are preparing for the annual flower festival. Still, Paul tries to claim to everyone that the bees killed his family, and they're heading this way, leaving the citizens very puzzled. At the hospital, he had a nightmare about a big bee, and Crane goes over Paul to chill Paul out and reach Paul's hands out to make it go away, and it did, and hoping that be bee won't come back at all. At the scene where the bees killed Paul's parents, Dr. Bradford Crane, investigates the site over stuff on the ground, and looking for the bees, but finds the plastic cup, wondering if the bees had eaten the plastic. Back on the missile base, Richard Chamberlain visits the base about the bees, where he was at a hospital room where people are lying in bed, but seeing a lot of dead people covered in black bags. At the gate, Hawkins went over to the base, wanted to see his son to know if he's still alive. Meanwhile, Crane discusses the bees with Chamberlain. But when Hawkins goes over to see dead people, he finds his son stung to death, and he cries about this, and he leaves the room in tears.
In the base, Crane hears on the radio that the swarm attacks everyone, and Jerry and the workers are attacked, and communication is cut. In the theater room, Crane talks about how the multitude of killer bees invaded them. Most people have a discussion about the deadly bees about the stain to kill the average person, and he showed many tests about the dead bee that he found and showing the wing from one bee. It was the only one killer bee, they'll be charged at any place, to save everyone from the bees, who launch another attack, and one of the people will warn their sirens about the attack until they kill all the bees. Back in Marysville, Paul leaves the hospital to go out with his friends. At the harris cafe, they had a discussion what their preparation for the killer bees, and Ms. Maureen, has a friendly chat before she leaves for her car to her school with her flowers. In the basement, they realized that the bees might go to Houston 200 miles away and kill many, arguing with the general. Crane uses his recorder to record the sound of the killer bees again. The kids go over to the beehive on the falling tree. They use their Molotov cocktails to burn the tree with bees, and they quickly run away to avoid getting stunned by the bees, and they hide in the three trash cans to take cover, and they did. At the open road, Crane talks with Anderson in his truck, but they see a cloud-like of killer bees heading to Marysville. At School, Tuttle goes to Ms. Maureen with his flowers, wanting to marry her. Crane quickly comes back to tell everyone to get inside to take cover, siring everyone to get inside due to bees coming to kill them. They go into churches, buildings, and apartments, but the bees started to kill most of the students outside, upsetting Maureen so much. Crane and Anderson go into the cafe, but a killer bee injures Anderson, and they went into a freezer.
Back in the base, while news reports talk about killer bees occurring in Texas, Dr. Richard gives a phone to how bad the people were. Outside, the general tells Crane to tell everyone to evacuate the area by using the train, at the news report, Crane goes to the bee room. He used the bee suit to look at the bees and spread them in the grid. Dr. Anderson has a private talk about the socialization is natural, and Anderson that Crane is the highest scientist, and she has her own business. At the train station, people are ready to be on board to evacuate the area, and they went on the train, but one woman was pregnant, and they went back to the hospital. At night, Crane and Anderson had a talking discussion in the street, Anderson knew that Maysville is a happy place in Texas. The next day, The train is still on the move and went into the mountains, but the killer bees suddenly come back. The drivers didn't even close the window, resulting in the driver accidentally moving the train way too fast, and derailing the train off the hill, destroying the train and killing all but 17 people. At the base, the doctors realized that they're three days away from Houston, and they planned to use the pellets from the helicopters. Still, they're not touching the pellets. (In the extended cut, Paul suddenly dies in his hospital bed, upsetting Anderson and blames Crane for what good he was.) The next day, Crane and Anderson were on the road again, tells him that Paul was here the first case that he would have been terrific one, and tells him about that didn't the three of force had died.
In the base, they tell everybody to evacuate over forty-six towns in Texas and close the factories, including, nut if they don't, the bees would attack them and destroy them. Richard went on a speech, attending the exact what he had developed, telling him a fool, saying that he's going to eject with six toxic bees. Richard took the test with shots on his arm a few times, but as his heart goes fast, the bee suddenly pops out from nowhere, attacking and killing him. Crane goes over and looks at Richard, and he cries for him over his loss. At the nuclear powerplant, the alarm sounds that the bees suddenly came inside killing a lot of workers. Andrews and Hubbard try to escape, but it's too late, resulting in the bees destroying the nuclear powerplant with a massive explosion, especially, destroying a town in Texas, with over 36,000,422 dead, Commander, goes to Crane to tell him that he wants to close down his operation. The war against the African would be a military direction, and the computer stated that the swarm of killer bees could be arrive in Houston in seventeen hours. They went over to airforce quarters in Houston, and they go to the General's room, and the three went to the computer room. The siren comes on, The battle of Houston, has just begun. The Flamethrowers start to burns the bees but destroying a lot of cars and burning a lot of buildings. Most of them were killed either by the killer bees, or the fire, at that point, and the flamethrowers destroyed the flameflower truck, killing the flamethrowers. The Commander looks at the view of now burning city of Houston is on fire, wondering if he would be blamed on him or themselves. In the computer room, the doctors are ready for a final experiment, they asked about the sonic alarm system, and they knew that the alarm would detect the bee would go over the sonic signals. They have a plan to put the sonic alarms on the Gulf of Mexico.
More amount of african killer bees suddenly break into the headquarters, Crane and Helena Anderson were able to escape the fire, but the general and the officers didn't even make it, leaving them to die. The movie suddenly cuts to daytime at the airport where Crane and Helen went into the helicopters to spread the oil, and use the sonic alarms to destroy the bees. At the Gulf of Mexico, They put the Sonic alarms to make the swarm of killer bees hear it. All of the bees go into the sea of oil, as well as the sonic signals, and they went into the shore, and the military launch missiles into the scene, killing the African killer bees. At the very end of the film, Dr. Crane tells Helena that if they use them wisely, the world will survive.
Why It Sucks
- For starters, it completely derives very heavily from the source material of the two Irwin Allen's disaster films, and this film served no charm or charisma, and just does whatever it can to exist from The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. At least the previous pre-Irwin Allen's disaster films did try to be memorable and having a lot of charm, but this film is just another attempt of being edgy.
- It can't decide if it's a horror-disaster film, at all. For most of the film, it feels more of a horror attack film than being a "disaster" movie in it, with a killer bee version of The Birds.
- Very subpar and hideous special effects of the killer bees, especially the green screen effects.
- All-star casts gave terrible performances, such as Michael Caine, who was never good as Dr. Crane, because he has little knowledge of bees and he rarely gets any character development because of it. Worst of all, it nearly killed Olivia de Havilland's acting career.
- Katharine Ross wasn't as good as Helena Anderson either, her relationship with Dr. Crane is completely pointless and feels forced.
- As said on WIS#1, It completely misses the spirit from the previous two disaster films that were both produced by Irwin Allen; The first two disaster film films The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, while a bit campy, has tons of serious, darker and emotional tone. Here, it has tons of campy, and unintentional comedy moments throughout the entire 155-minute film, which takes itself far too seriously.
- The film focuses on establishing more of Allen's disaster movies, rather than its own story.
- The pacing is extremely unconvincing, which is very inexcusable for a disaster, and horror film.
- The writing is poor considering the fact as if Irwin Allen never really cared about these disaster movies anymore.
- Incorrect rating: Why was this film even rated PG in the first place? It would probably make sense if the film was rated R since it's a disaster-horror film.
- While the filming settings in this movie despite being taking place in Texas were decent, most of the shoots in the first two acts didn't exactly look like the film taking place the state of Texas at all until they filmed in the city of Houston, Texas, in the third act.
- Marysville is an unincorporated community in real-life at near the border states of Texas and Oklahoma. In the movie, Maryville has a town square, but it was actually filmed at Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood, California, a train station, and has the tallest mountain on it. In reality, it doesn't have a train station, nor does it have the tallest mountain nearby at all.
- What's more, when Crane and Helena are standing on the Gulf of Mexico shores, they are standing in front of a cliff, yet there are no cliffs on the Upper Texas coast.
- Most of the location for Texas feels like they're filmed in New Mexico, Nevada, or California, instead of Texas. In reality, Texas has fewer mountains in real-life, but in the movie, there's a scene where a train is still on it's way to Houston, but with taller mountains in the background, which Texas doesn't even have taller mountains in real-life.
- The film only involves a group of characters trying to find a way to stop this killer-bee invasion in the state of Texas but after the cinemax, the rest of the movie in the directors cut boils down into more than two-hours of filler in which barely anything goes on in this movie at all.
- It creates numerous plot-holes, severe plot points, errors, bad dialogue, bad writing, and unexplained details everywhere. but not limited to:
- At the beginning of the movie, how did could the African killer bees manage to kill everybody on the underground base center if they don't have stairs to go through?
- When the larger group of soldiers enter the compound near the beginning of the movie the door to the compound building opens to let them inside in one shot and opens again in the very next shot.
- In the short version, it is never explained what happened to Paul Durant after he had a last chat with Dr. Crane, and going back to the hospital in Marysville before the population of Marysville is evacuated.
- However, The extended cut did solve the problem, he was at the hospital, but he suddenly died for an unexplained reason.
- The killer bees somehow destroy the helicopters, with it losing all of its power, and made the helicopters crash into the mountains.
- Dr. Bradford Crane tells Paul (who's in a hospital bed) to reach out to make the bee go away, and he states that the bee is not real, which is confusing because the bees are real.
- The train scene has a huge mess of flaws:
- When the train crashes off the railway track, a carriage explodes. Whether the locomotive was powered by electricity or diesel, the passenger carriages would have carried no fuel and would not have exploded. Although since only one carriage car exploded and spread fire to the rest, it could be conceivable (although unlikely) this was a dining car and contained bottled gas.
- When the passenger train is attacked by the swarm, Engineer Ned leans on the (mock-up) automatic brake handle which should have applied the emergency brakes, but instead the train accelerates.
- Why the train drivers didn't even shut the windows as soon as the African killer bees go toward the train? Also, it makes the bees enter the cab and kill both the drivers. The sting from the bee also makes one engineer accidentally pull the lever, which results in the train going way too fast and making the train crash off the railway track, a carriage explodes. Whether the locomotive was powered by electricity or diesel, the passenger carriages would have carried no fuel and would not have exploded.
- When the train accelerates out of control and tips over on the cliff, the exterior shot shows that the locomotive at the front leans to its right side. However, the interior shot appears as if the locomotive is tilting to its left side.
- When Engineer Ned leans on the (mock-up) automatic brake handle, which should have applied the emergency brakes, but instead the train accelerates.
- During the war against the killer bees in the city of Austin, there is literally a scene where the ambulance driver loses control because of the bees and suddenly it's night time during the crashing sequence. When the ambulance crashes into the building at this shot, you can see it's daytime, while it was supposed to be nighttime.
- When testing the anti-venom on himself, the scientist places only one chest wire on himself which would make it impossible to monitor his "z-score" as stated because at least 3 leads would be needed. In addition, the compound is stated to be administered in an "auto-injector" when the instrument shown on screen was nothing more than a 1930s vintage hypodermic needle and syringe.
- The movie permanently killed Harold F. Kress's editing career.
- The final act of the entire film. During the war against the killer bees, Dr. Crane and Sally Helena escape the checkpoint from the military base in Austin, Texas and they went to the airport the next day to fly a helicopter to the Gulf of Mexico and they just drop the play the signal of floating devices. But that's not it, predictably, all of the millions of African bees go into the sign and launching missiles into the scene, exploding and killing all of the killer bees in an anti-climatic manner, and that's it, that's how the film literally ends!
- Warner Bros. Pictures put a disclaimer before the end credits, stating that the African killer bees portrayed in this film bear no relationship to the industrious, hard-working American honey bee to which they are indebted for pollinating vital crops that feed the nation.
- Jerry Goldsmith did an excellent job composing the soundtrack, which adds some more suspense to this film, which makes this film a bit better.
- It is considered to be So-bad-it's-good cinema.
- There are some good action sequences during the cinemax, though not as good as the previous installments.
When The Swarm was debut on July 14, 1978, it received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film currently holds a 10% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews, while Metacritic scores the film a 30/100 "Generally unfavorable reviews" and an IMDb rating is 4.5/10. Durning the United Kingdom release, The Sunday Times described The Swarm as "simply the worst film ever made". Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars and wrote that it was "surprisingly flaccid in its thrills", explaining: "In these days of Star Wars (which was made for less money), it takes more than a fleet of helicopters and a flameout on the Gulf of Mexico to convince audiences that they are being dazzled. Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called it a "disappointing and tired non-thriller. Killer bees periodically interrupt the arch writing, stilted direction and ludicrous acting."
The movie however gained a cult status over the years and John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide, as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. Micheal Caine admitted that The Swarm was the worst entry of this disaster movie that he had ever starred in. Caine also said that he was embarrassed about how he appeared in as he wasn't supposed to be.
The film was unable to even make its budget back and it grossed over $5,168,142 on its opening weekend from more than 1,200 theatres and earned Warner's rentals in the United States and Canada of $7.7 million. It was considered both a critical and commercial failure.
Irwin Allen was sitting at the box office for a while, however, upon the released, his career took a massive nosedive. Allen became heartbroken by the amount of money he lost that he had forbidden any of his employees ever to mention it again. The movie was a huge loss and it made less than of its $21 million budget. It was so bad, that The Swarm was only played on theatres for two weeks, and it was pulled from theatres after a critical, and box-office disaster. 
In Allen's interview, he had asked a question about the movie. Still, unfortunately, the following year, that the sequel of the Poseidon adventure name Beyond the Poseidon Adventure that Allen would know that his newer movie would fall even harder at the box office.
- The film was originally released in theaters at 116 minutes, however, when it was released on laserdisc in 1992, it was extended to 155 minutes with additional scenes. This extended version is also included on all DVD releases worldwide along with a 22-minute documentary titled "Inside The Swarm" and the original theatrical trailer, especially on the Bu-Ray version.
- YouTube reviewer ramboraph4life defends the film and is a fan of it, and he enjoyed it, and he knows how bad the movie is.
- It is the last film to be edited by Harold F. Kress.