For a brief period in the 1970s the disaster film was king. Following disillusionment with the hippie movement, the Vietnam war, and a stagnating economy, doom was in the air. Disaster films draw from the same source as Eco-horror, but they tend to be much more spectacular, and strangely, much less pessimistic. As a result, they were much more commercially successful
The Bees, begins with a father and son in Central America breaking into an experimental bee colony. The bees inside are horrifically dangerous and kill with a single sting. The bees escape and begin to more north towards the United States. The swarm seems unstoppable as it crashes planes, kills people and destroys the occasional parade. A couple of scientists have come up with a brilliant idea to stop the bees once and for all... make them gay.
|"They're just like regular bees... except you know, gayer."|
The cast are all surprisingly game for such a silly movie. John Saxon gives it his all as a slightly incompetent and more than slightly lecherous, scientist. Angel Tompkins is not a good actress, but she proves to have chemistry with Saxon and together they end up an interesting couple. John Carradine steals the movie as Dr. Sigmund Hummel, complete with a screamingly fake German accent. It’s so phony I initially thought he was just putting it on as a laugh for the other characters, soon enough I learned it’s supposed to be his natural accent.
|"OK, I'm ready. Pull my finger."|
The Bees isn’t a smart film, but it does provide a smart riposte to overly serious nature of both the disaster and eco-horror films of the time. Not only that, but it manages to be a fun romp that goes out with a weird finale. I didn’t expect much from this film, but it stung its way into my heart.