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Swarm, The (1978, Michael Caine, Katharine Ross)

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In The Swarm troops arriving at a military base in Texas find everyone dead except civilian Brad Crane (Michael Caine), an entomolgist who explains that everyone else died in an attack by a swarm of African killer bees. Scoffed at at first, further attacks prove him right and as the swarm heads for Houston, destroying all in its path, the President puts Crane in charge of a group of scientists who must find a way to destroy the swarm.

With a back catalogue of feature films and TV series including The Time Tunnel and Lost in Space behind him, Irwin Allen returned to movie-making in the early ’70s, spearheading the disaster movie genre with films such as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno and The Swarm , while not quite matching up to those two, still has its moments, including a spectacular train crash and a nuclear plant explosion. The script, from Oscar-winner Stirling Silliphant, ranges between the pseudo-scientific, as the origin and threat of the bees is explained and tension, as they cut a swathe through the state, killing anyone in their path. That they will be defeated goes without saying but the lead-up is satisfyingly action-packed.

The bees themselves had their stingers removed so the crew could work in safety but still managed to get a measure of revenge by depositing tiny yellow dots of bee-poo on the cast during filming.

production details
USA | 116 minutes | 1978

Director: Irwin Allen
Writer: Stirling Silliphant from Arthur Herzog Jnr’s novel

cast
Richard Widmark as Gen. Thaddeus Slater
José Ferrer as Dr. Andrews
Michael Caine as Brad Crane
Don Barry as Pete Harris
Fred MacMurray as Clarance Tuttle
Morgan Paull as Dr. Newman
Lee Grant as Anne MacGregor
Katharine Ross as Helena Anderson
Richard Chamberlain as Dr. Hubbard
Olivia de Havilland as Maureen
Ben Johnson as Felix
Patty Duke as Rita
Slim Pickens as Jud Hawkins
Bradford Dillman as Maj. Baker
Henry Fonda as Dr. Walter Krim
Cameron Mitchell as Gen. Thompson
Christian Juttner as Paul Durant
Alejandro Rey as Dr. Martinez
Arthur Space as Train Engineer
Arell Blanton as Sergeant
Philip Ettington as Train Passenger (uncredited)