An impressive collection of Oscar nominees giving the worst performances of their careers, timely issues such as border security, nuclear power plant safety, and oil spills in the gulf . . . this can all be found in one of the best worst movies of all time, 1978’s The Swarm.
The film opens on a ravaged military base in an undisclosed Texas location that is surrounded by desert and Joshua Trees from California. Everybody is dead. One man even managed to be dead while leaning against a wall with his arm over his head. What could have caused this? Enter Michael Caine, Famous Bee Scientist.
The problem, Michael informs everyone, is illegal immigration. Border fences and checkpoints could not stop a giant swarm of African killer bees from entering the state. The bees are “more virulent than the Australian Brown-Box Jellyfish.” Four stings and you’re dead. Two stings get you a 50% chance of survival, and a 100% chance of having giant bee hallucinations.
Bee mayhem ensues. A lot of Texans die in slow motion. The bees are crafty, they can take down helicopters and derail trains. They soon set their sights on a nuclear power plant. The plant manager informs Richard Chamberlain, Slightly Less Famous Bee Scientist, that the facility is entirely safe. Nothing can possibly go wrong. “In all your fail-safe techniques,” asks Richard, “is there a provision for an attack by killer bees?” The plant explodes approximately two minutes after the bees arrive. (Homeland Security, please make a note to look into this provision.)
The bees head for Houston. After insecticides prove inefficient, the president calls for a measure of last resort. Burn down the city. Guys on the ground with flame throwers try to burn down brick row houses that are exactly unlike anything in Houston. The bees, seeing as how they have wings, simply fly away from the fires. Houston is destroyed, the bees live.
Finally, Michael Caine figures it out. Spoiler alert! He creates a massive oil spill on the gulf, uses bee sex sounds to lure the bees over the water, then fires a missile at the oil slick and blows them up. Against all logic, this seems to work . . . or does it? (Buzz, buzz.)
So the next time we’re burning off an oil spill in the gulf, let’s try to make the best of the situation by pretending we’re saving the world.