The Savage Bees (1976) A sheriff, a scientist, and a doctor somehow convince an entire swarm of killer bees to swarm a Volkswagen Beetle and drive to the Superdome.

Theme Song: Flutes and oboes.

Interesting Dated References: The police, state and federal government, and the general public working together to eradicate a nuisance from society.

Best Line: In reference to a dog whose stomach is full of bees — “Your dog’s stomach is full of bees.”

Social Context: Do you know how many summer days were ruined because the stupid local paper published in the shitty town next to my even shittier town would repeatedly have small blurbs about killer bees that were soon to besiege the northeasternmost corner of Illinois?

Summary: I tried to be nice to this movie, but the plot is so absurd I can barely even believe this is how I’m choosing to spend my life. Two ships collide off the coast of Louisiana, one of which is full of Killer Bees™. Played by The Wild Bunch’s Ben Johnson, Don is the local county sheriff who finds his dog dead and takes it to the coroner. Since it’s also Mardi Gras and the coroner is on vacation, Don has to deal with a substitute doctor, which is so inconvenient for him he rants about it for like five minutes. Dr. Jeff is played by Tarantino-mainstay Michael Parks.

After discovering the dog’s stomach is full of fucking bees, they surmise Killer Bees™ have invaded Mardi Gras from one of the ships, because Killer Bees™ are attracted to the pH level of caucasian tourist vomit. The parish police brush them off because Don is from the county and Jeff is a temp and their whole explanation about the vomit makes no sense. They grab their scientist friend, Jeannie, who takes them to the local Bee Research Institute, which is open on Mardi Gras!

The experts at the Bee Research Institute explain that they can’t alert the public because then people will start killing all bees, which will disrupt the food chain and cause society to fall into chaos. Not wanting society to fall into chaos, our trio coat a Volkswagen Beetle in the vomit of caucasian tourists in order to get the bees to leave their giant nest in a hot dog stand and swarm the car.

Then once again not wanting to scare the public, they drive the car through the main drag of Mardi Gras in the early morning hours while announcing via loudspeaker, “Warning! Killer Bees™! Go back inside!”

I’m sorry, I misunderstood. It’s not vomit the bees are attracted to, it’s color. Specifically, the color red, hence the red Volkswagen. The final stage of the plan is to drive the bee-covered Volkswagen into the Superdome and then turn the AC down so low all the bees will die. That’s right. The plan is to turn the Superdome’s AC down, in a matter of minutes, to such a cold temperature, all the bees will die.

So then within minutes the AC’s Superdome is so cold all the bees die and the movie ends. I know that things were kind of far-out in the disaster genre back in the late 70s, but this is absolutely preposterous. Oh, and right before the credits they show a single bee still alive at the top of the dome.

Worth Mentioning:
-Chronically-intense Horst Buchholz shows up as a bee expert, doing his research in a protective, tinfoil bee suit. That tinfoil suit is then torn by the plastic sword of a passing drunk hippie and both are killed by Killer Bees™.

-Followed by a sequel, Terror Out of The Sky.

-As far as “ridiculously over-the-top disaster concepts” go, this is right up there. If you’re into that type of stuff, please enjoy.

-Writer Guerdon Trueblood also wrote the made-for-TV bug movies Ants, Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo, and the sequel to this movie, Terror Out of the Sky.

-Director Bruce Geller also directed Harry in Your Pocket, which is a very enjoyable James Coburn pickpocket movie you should see.

Poster and Box Art: USA big box Betamax art is terrible:

However, this original poster art is great:

I’m not sure what the poster is from as this was a made-for-tv movie. Perhaps it had a later theatrical run once Killer Bee™ fever started to sweep the nation into the 80s.

This nicely-done German poster features a skull, which makes people want to see a movie even more because everyone has a skull.

Availability: DVD and used VHS.

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