Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Swarm, The (1978)

Swarm, The (1978)

African killer bees are moving west and threatening to engulf Houston, Texas.

Quick, call on entomologist Brad Crane (Michael Caine) and a hive of Hollywood has-beens to out-ham each other while reciting terrible dialogue and getting stung by coloured Styrofoam pellets!

Crane has long been predicting a human vs insect war, but he “never dreamed it would turn out to be the bees. They were always our friends.”

Richard Widmark is General Slater, the quick-tempered Air Force man piqued when a civilian is put in charge of the rescue and containment operation (and quite rightly as Caine’s character doesn’t really make a single right decision until the very end).

Henry Fonda is Dr Krim, a spectacularly useless wheelchair-bound immunologist who dies testing his anti-venom on himself.


Richard Chamberlain turns up for about five minutes as Dr Hubbard and says – truthfully one feels – that he “came reluctantly” and Katharine Ross is Helena, a comely doctor cast presumably because she’s exactly the right height and colouring to be able to nestle appealingly against Michael Caine’s tan-clad chest.

Producer/director Irwin Allen added new meaning to his “master of disaster” title with this bumbled B-movie, considered one of the worst ever made by popular consensus.

For such a daft film with such a terminally silly premise, it’s surprisingly bloodthirsty, killing quite a few people on screen, a lot of them children, and then a few hundred more casually when the bees derail a train.

However, there’s much to enjoy precisely because it is so awful, with Queen Bee Olivia de Havilland’s laughable love triangle with Ben Johnson and Fred MacMurray being the only strange mating ritual Caine should be studying.

Brad Crane
Michael Caine
Katharine Ross
General Slater
Richard Widmark
Dr Hubbard
Richard Chamberlain
Maureen Schuster
Olivia de Havilland
Ben Johnson
Anne MacGregor
Lee Grant
Dr Andrews
José Ferrer
Rita Bard
Patty Duke
Jud Hawkins
Slim Pickens
Major Baker
Bradford Dillman
Fred MacMurray
Dr Krim
Henry Fonda
General Thompson
Cameron Mitchell

Irwin Allen