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The Swarm

3.7 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Irwin Allen's doomsday epic pits an all-star cast against a North American invasion of killer bees!

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes documentary
  • All new digital transfer
  • Genre notes on big bug movies

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland
  • Directors: Irwin Allen
  • Writers: Arthur Herzog III, Stirling Silliphant
  • Producers: Irwin Allen
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 6, 2002
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067FP4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,882 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Swarm" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 4, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
For sheer audacity, this is another classic howler from Irwin Allen`s epic disaster back catalogue! Michael Caine and Katharine Ross get all the unintentionally hilarious lines(CAINE: I never dreamed it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friends.) And these bees begin the movie by showing who really rules the skies by invading a nuclear missile silo and attacking the launch crew. They proceed to cause helicopter crashes(yes, that is in the plot!), attack a picnicking all-American family(yeeaahhh) and invade a town during its annual flower festival, causing many victims to run around like penguins trying to fly and fall all over the place looking utter idiots. As the military and scientists' attempts to wipe out the bees are miserable failures, the deadly swarm cause a spectacular train crash(special effects by the local model train shop), and much more mayhem. Then they head for (gulp!) HOUSTON! Can the all-star cast save the day??? We know the outcome, but if you would like an absolute laugh riot(I want to see the extended version myself!) and like to watch well-known names try to deadpan their way through some of the most unintentionally hilarious dialogue ever written for the screen, then this is the cheesy 1970s classic for you! The novel, by Arthur Herzog, incidentally, is much better.
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Format: VHS Tape
THE SWARM is a legendary flop from Irwin Allen, the kind that destroys careers. Hyped from here to the moon, and called "the most terrifying movie ever made" by Allen himself, prior to its release, scientists everywhere were worried that it would cause a mass panic about bees. Not quite. THE SWARM turned out to be a bad movie. Drop your jaw bad. A movie that makes you ask again and again "What made them think this would work!?" A movie so bad that it is capable of giving the bad movie lover a buzz akin to those given by other substances.
When the always inept military finds a whole bunch of people dead at a nuclear missile base they think Chemical Warfare. Wrong. Turns out it was a huge swarm of mutated African Killer Bees from Brazil (The Bees from Brazil?) that has illegally immigrated to Texas and now threatens The World (or at least Houston, same thing).
Stirling Silliphant's script is so incredibly bad that some b-movie fans put forth that THE SWARM is really a snide parody of 50s mutant bug flicks instead of a serious thriller (check out Ken Begg's 50s schlock check list in his review of the movie at jabootu.com). Either way it does a real disservice to Arthur Herzog's fine novel, which succeeds in being frightening. The direction by Irwin Allen is lethargic, too often the movie just sits there when it should be moving at a mile a minute, but then again that allows the bad movie lover to sit there and savor each rancid morsel of dialog for all its cheesy glory. On the plus side Jerry Goldsmith contributes yet another fine score for a bad movie. Highly recommended and, believe it or not, this is an essential flick for bad movie lovers everywhere.
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Format: DVD
There's delusion on an epic scale on display in Irwin Allen's infamous The Swarm. It's not the worst of his oeuvre by a long way - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out are both much, much worse - but it's become the poster child for all the absurdities of the disaster genre at it's hokeyest. But then capsized ships with atom bombs aboard or volcanoes threatening hotel complexes can't compare to killer bees destroying nuclear power plants and causing train wrecks on the Richter Scale of movie absurdity. And it's a curiously second- and third-hand construction too - structurally Stirling Silliphant's script is surprisingly similar to his script for In the Heat of the Night. Okay, there weren't any bees in that one, but from the beginning where big city cop Sidney Poitier is discovered at a murder scene and immediately treated as a suspect by hard-case racist cop Rod Steiger until he gradually learns to respect his expertise, it's being used as a template, with sunflower seed munching entomologist Michael Caine discovered in a missile silo full of dead bodies by hard-case xenophobic general Richard Widmark, who immediately suspects him of their deaths until he gradually learns to respect his expertise (how can you not love a film where Bradford Dillman asks "Can we count on a scientist who prays?" only for Widmark to respond "I wouldn't count on one that didn't"?).

But this isn't a film about trust or even narrative, it's about miscast and affordable stars getting stung to death in slow-motion by what look like bits of oatmeal painted black and fired at them by air-cannons. It's a film about hallucinating patients being menaced by imaginary giant bees. It's a film about military complexes with lots of flashing lights.
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2 Comments 24 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
"The Swarm" is merely another in the long line of 1970's disaster flicks that the Hollywood machine churned out with almost reckless abandon. The difference here is that, instead of burning building or shaking ground, the disaster is a swarm of 'Africanized' killer bees that attack southern Texas with extreme ferocity. While there is no doubt that killer bees do exist and are quite vicious when they attack, this particular swarm seems capable of doing things that not even the USSR could have imagined accomplishing. These bees cause helicopters to crash, force passenger trains off the track, and... get this... cause a nuclear power plant to explode (!). These are some pretty impressive bees. For all the outlandishly ridiculous plot developments, "The Swarm" is still a fun movie to watch. It's especially fun to watch actors of higher pedigree try to contend with this material. On the one hand, there is Richard Chamberlain, an actor wants badly to be a better actor than the material he performs lets him be. On the other hand, there is Oscar-winner, Michael Caine, who shows a propensity for choosing awful roles at the same rate as he chooses award-winning roles (how else can you explain a man who wins Academy Awards in such compelling films as "Hannah and her Sisters" and "The Cider House Rules", while also starring in such monumental turkeys as "Jaws: The Revenge" and "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure"). It's fun watching the two of them recite the dialogue of this movie and seeing them not smirk at what they're saying. "The Swarm" is a bad, bad movie, but it has that extra bit of flair that allows it to be so bad it's good.
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