The Bees (1978)

Alfredo Zacarías made Demonoid and we should thank him for years for that. He also took advantage of the sheer terror that ensured when the Africanized honey bee was on its way to America. Originally used in Brazil to increase honey production, 26 swarms escaped quarantine in 1957 and spread throughout South America, incredibly defensive and angry bees that supposedly can chase a person for a mile. These bees have killed a thousand people with many of their victims being stung over and over again. Just imagine six-year-old me watching this on the news every single night as we were told again and again just how close these bees were to us and how doomed we all were.

I also blame the exploitation film industry who seized upon this and made so many killer bee movies, as they had all the news doing their advertising work for them. There was the 1974 TV movie Killer BeesThe Swarm and this movie, ads filled with just bee after bee and I’d watch when I was outside sure today was the day I’d be stung to death.

Jack Hill went uncredited on this as a writer, as he was supposed to direct it, but life didn’t work out that way. It’s the story of South American killer bees who haven’t just been smuggled into the country for experiments, but have also mutated into even smarter than your average bee and use that to kill humans.

It all happens when Dr. Miller (Claudio Brook) is trying to crossbreed the aggressive bees with a much calmer species so that more honey can be made. A local tries to break in and steal the bees, which leads to his angry family and friends burning down Miller’s house and the bees escaping. Meanwhile, Miller’s wife Sandra (Angel Tompkins) takes the queen to her uncle Dr. Sigmund Hummel (John Carradine, of course) and Dr. John Norman (John Saxon), who have the same goals as her husband, except there’s a honey spy ring trying to make more money off the bees and that means murder.

There’s a scene where Carradine falls to his doom and I won’t lie, I watched it nine times and with each rewatch I loved this movie even more. Also: John Saxon speaks to stock footage of the UN.

 

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