Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Swarm (1978)
To fully understand the cheese-factor in The Swarm, just read these lines:
Oh, my God! Bees! Bees! Millions of Bees!
Dr. Andrews: Billions of dollars have been spent to make these nuclear plants safe. Fail-safe! The odds against anything going wrong are astronomical, Doctor!
Dr. Hubbard: I appreciate that, Doctor. But let me ask you. In all your fail-safe techniques, is there a provision for an attack by killer bees?
Houston on fire. Will history blame me, or the bees?
Attention! Attention! This is Miss Schuster. Please listen very carefully. A swarm of killer bees is coming this way.
By tomorrow there will be no more Africans... at least not in the Houston sector.
To quote Ian Friedman, the screen is alive with goofiness. I can honestly say that there's never been a movie so goofy, silly and absurd as Irwin Allen's The Swarm. Not that this is a bad thing, because it's very entertaining and though the directors cut clocks in at around two and a half hour, every second is filled with something that makes your heart warm and your brain empty.
Stirling Silliphant, a scriptwriter I like, probably wrote the script in his sleep and I doubt it ever was rewritten. The characters are so shallow and stupid, the dialogue seem to be - as you can see above - written by someone with an average IQ of ten. It's probably not Silliphant's fault, I guess we more can blame Allen who probably needed the script way to fast for his own good.
Another problem is Michael Caine. I love the guy (except that hair cut he always had at that time). First of all is the character written like a total fucking prick. Yes, you just want to punch that fucker in the face and piss on his corpse. He's such a smart-ass, so anti-humble and he's acting like an asshole to everybody, even the poor (yes, you actually are on their side when he's starting his bullshitting) military. The other problem is that Caine obviously hates this (probably well-payed) job. And it's easy to notice that most actors, except maybe Henry Fonda and Slim Pickens, reads their lines with a lot of disbelief, like they're wondering how the heck their agent could get them this job in the first place.
But still, The Swarm is such a goofy and fun movie. It's packed with action and disaster scenes - sometime with very crude effects, but also with some well made stuff too - for example the big swarms in the sky, good effect. The stunts are in glorious slow-mo, and all of them looks damn impressive. The famous train-accident looks exactly like toy train crashing and exploding like a... nuclear bomb or something that involves a couple thousand liters of gasoline! A lot of kids is getting killed too - while Olivia de Havilland is chewing scenery inside, safe from the killer bees! My favorite Bradford Dillman is good too, and makes the best of his little part. Ah, sorry, I almost forgot! Cameron Mitchell, looking a bit drunk, has a small part - mostly on a big TV-monitor. I hope that payed his way of living for many years.
It's hard to dislike The Swarm, and even if it was an enormous flop, it's still a heart-warming crazy motherfucker of a flick, from the master of disaster himself: Irwin Allen.