Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Savage Bees (1976)

When I was a kid the trailer for The Swarm freaked me out. What? Killer bees coming to the United States? How will we survive?  So it's a good thing I didn't see this movie, which is also about killer bees coming to America to kill us all - especially those who wear red or black, which are colors that make bees the angriest.  They also don't like loud noises. So don't rev your tractor, or drunkenly scream for hotdogs, or get your car horn stuck by conking it with your head, or anything preposterous stuff like that.

Sheriff McKew finds his faithful dog dead, and vows to track down whoever killed him.  So he drives into New Orleans in the middle of Mardi Gras and takes his dogs carcass to the Coroners Office. This surprises the coroner on duty, Jeff Durance, since the office only handles human remains, not pets.

The Sheriff thinks his animal pal has been poisoned, and talks  Jeff into doing some tests.  While doing the dog autopsy,  Jeff discovers that the pooch wasn't poisoned. The dogs stomach is filled with bees which stung him to death. Ewwwww.

Jeff calls on ex-girlfriend Jeannie who just happens to be an entomologist. They head to the city offices to try to shut down Mardi Gras, but the city official played by James Best, aka Roscoe P. Coltrane, won't stop the biggest party of the year without proof of these  supposedly killer bees and their need for vengeance. Since they can't get any help from the city, Jeannie connects with one of her insect crazy scientist friends who he has a hotline to the number one bee expert in the world and asks for immediate help. Meanwhile the streets are filled with drunken party goers completely unaware that they could soon be overrun by bees which may be out for blood.

The Sheriff sends his men out to look for the location of the swarm.  Nothing like trying to find a swarm of bees in the country. The only way to tell them from swarms of regular bees is to see if they kill you.

The Sheriff's search party proves to be inept at understanding the actual danger quotient of a killer bees since their protection consists of entirely of cheesecloth draped over their heads.  Luckily the number one bee expert in the world locates the savage bees in a hot dog stand, and enters wearing what is essentially a silver hazmat suit.  If only his plan hadn't been foiled by two drunk Mardi Gras loving teens who run a police road block and really want to eat some hotdogs.  Or perhaps everything would have been fine if the kid dressed as a pirate didn't bring a real sword do Mardi Gras.  But before you know it our bee expert has a slice in his protective suit, and we're back to square one.

Perhaps the funniest scene in the movie is when they decide to get the bees to follow a VW Beetle. As they drive through the streets of New Orleans, Jeff yells over the loud speaker telling everyone they have sixty second to get off the streets because they're bring a bunch of killer bees through town. Also the DVD is obviously taken from a VHS copy since the picture tends to roll at the beginning of the film, like when the tracking is off.

It's a decent 70s movie and I liked it better than the Swarm.  Michael Parks and Gretchen Corbett do a good job, although Ben Johnson is wasted in his role as Sheriff.

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