CURTIS HARRINGTON WEEK: The Killer Bees (1974)

When I was a kid in the 70s, killer bees were all we heard of. They were obviously going to get us and a story on the news every night for years and then, well…nothing ever happened.

The ABC Movie of the Week on February 26, 1974, The Killer Bees, directed by Curtis Harrington and written by former lawyer John William Corrington and his wife Joyce Hooper, who teamed to write the scripts for  Von Richthofen and Brown, The Omega Man, Boxcar BerthaThe Arena and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, as well as several soap operas and the syndicated show Superior Court.

Edward Van Bohlen (Edward Albert) has stayed away from his wine making family until his girlfriend Victoria Wells (Kate Jackson) asks him to go back home and try to reconnect. We all know that you can’t go home again and when your family uses African bees to make your wine better, well, you really should in no way go back home again.

Madame Van Bohlen (Gloria Swanson) not only runs the family and the winery, but the bees as well. She’s able to command them to kill everyone that she sees as a threat, but when she dies, who will the bees follow?

Bette Davis was originally going to be the star of the movie, but her doctor worried that she’d o into anaphylactic shock if she was stung by a bee. As for Gloria Swanson, she was so game for this movie that she agreed to have bees put all over her body. To create this moment, the bees were placed in a dry ice room to make them tired, then gradually warmed once they were put on Ms. Swanson’s costume.

The wine that got made by the Van Bohlen’s must have been good, because their home is now the place where noted winemaker — and yes, director — Francis Ford Coppola lives.

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