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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Swarm" )

 

directed by Irwin Allen
USA 19
78

While investigating the bee-sting deaths of Air Force personnel at a missile base near Houston, Texas, an entomologist realizes that the dreaded African killer bees--long expected by scientists--have arrived in the United States. The hallucination-inducing bees derail a commuter train and destroy a nuclear power plant, killing hundreds of people as scientists race against the clock to develop an antitoxin to stop the devastation of The Swarm. From "master of disaster" Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno) and based on the novel by Arthur Herzog.

***

"Oh, my God — bees, bees, millions of bees!" cries a helicopter pilot, who, needless to say, is not long for this world. The horde is headed for a sweet little town where the movie theater is playing "The Towering Inferno," Mr. Allen's previous exercise in pre-fab pandemonium, and where the local drugstore must do land-office business selling hair spray to the schoolmistress, played by Olivia de Havilland. Once they arrive, the bees slaughter everybody they can get their stingers on.

Mr. Allen stands to gain a great deal from the bloodthirstiness of his swarm, but there isn't much in it for the bees. We see a few bee's-eye point-of-view shots of innocent picnickers and the like, but their motives are never made clear. Are they out to avenge themselves on mankind? Michael Caine, playing the entomologist of the piece, hazards a guess or two, but nothing he says is helpful to Richard Widmark, as a general on Bee Patrol. "I always credit my enemy, no matter what he may be, with equal intelligence," Mr. Widmark grimly observes. Because the military's first 10 or 12 schemes to outsmart the little devils are unsuccessful, Mr. Widmark's assessment sounds very fair.

Excerpt from NYTimes located HERE

Posters

Television Premiere: July 14th, 1978

 

Reviews                                                               More Reviews                                                       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 2:34:55
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.78 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Inside The Swarm (22:11)

• Trailer

DVD Release Date: January 28th, 2016
Keep Case

Chapters 49

 

 

 

Comments

The Swarm is a real 70's 'Disaster-schlock' artefact. You have to look at the impressive, and likeable, cast; Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Fred MacMurray, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, José Ferrer, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Alejandro Rey... wow. Like many, I have a soft-spot for this genre and those films that were produced in this period. You have to marvel at the effort - and how often it was repeated, inventively finding new calamity circumstances to create a story around. Actually, it's from a well replicated, cookie-cutter, blueprint. That we, obviously, like.

This Warner Archive DVD is labeled the "Expanded Edition" incorporating 40 minutes of additional footage not included in the original theatrical release. 2.5 hour worth of flic with a low bitrate and exporting a reasonably dull SD image. Detail is not fatal and there is occasional depth. It's one of those DVD transfer that would be blown away by Blu-ray, but there is no, other, reason to see The Swarm advance to 1080P.

A standard lossy 2.0 channel Dolby track giving some buoyancy to the less effectual 'buzzing' effects but adding to the score by the great Jerry Goldsmith (Breakout, The Mephisto Waltz, Seconds, Hoosiers, The Blue Max, Breakheart Pass, The Omen) which accentuates the film's action and tension - sounding less-impacting than it could. There are optional subtitles (see sample) on the Region FREE MoD disc. 

Supplements include a trailer and the 22-minute vintage, Inside The Swarm video piece with behind the scenes footage and it's a general advertisement for the film. I can't imagine that many of those involved in the film would acknowledge it being doing interviews, or even mentioning it, in the years following its release.

By all standards this is not a good film, but I still enjoyed watching it - mostly for the stars... Caine tries to save the weak dialogue with his most virulent yelling - it didn't work. All I would need to know about this movie was that it has Hank Fonda, Katherine Ross and Olivia de Havilland. The battling of killer bees is just 'icing on the cake'. At least you know what you are getting with an Irwin Allen disaster film - just some of the narrative and cardboard characters are jumbled around. The Swarm is disaster-porn at it's most erratic but its extravagance, in both casting and unsubstantiated plotting, remains a desirable factor. Embrace it.   

  - Gary Tooze

 



 

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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

  

  

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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