The Deadly Bees (1966)

The Deadly Bees

The title, The Deadly Bees, is pretty self-explanatory; however the film sets up the back story in the first two scenes. The first takes place in a government office where two suited and booted gentlemen receive a letter from a ‘scientist’ about a strain of deadly bees he has developed, warning them to take him seriously or he’ll use his bees to kill some unspecified person. The two ministers write off the letter, along with the several waste paper bins full of previous letters from the scientist as the ravings of a madman. The second scene introduces the main character, Vicki Robbins, played by Suzanna Leigh (Lust for a Vampire) an exhausted pop star that is then sent to convalesce for two weeks on Seagull Island coincidently where the deadly bees have been developed.

Vicki stays with Ralph and Mary Hargrove, played by Guy Doleman (Thunderball) and Catherine Finn (The Creeping Flesh) where she meets H.W Manfred played by Frank Finlay (The Pianist, Lifeforce), your quintessential eccentric gentleman. Manfred is an expert apiarist and is bee mad, he even breeds his bees in his house with a window into their hive. However, all is not as it seems in the Hargrove residence either, with Mr Hargrove’s unexplained nocturnal visit to the stables with a large hypodermic needle. It seems that Vicki has stumbled into a long held feud between the two men. It soon becomes clear that the real villain of the film is Hargrove who goes on to use his swarm of killer bees to kill his wife, or is it? The film attempts to keep the viewer guessing as to which of the not particularly likeable beekeepers is responsible for the swarm of killer bees but it was pretty easy to guess who was responsible from about half way through.

The film suffers from a stilted and predictable script with plot spoon fed to the viewer just to ensure that everybody gets the (hardly complex) plot. Indeed some of the best acting is from the supporting animal cast, particularly the Hargrove’s dog, Tess who is unfortunately the first victim of the killer bees. The special effects of the film are underwhelming, using a lot of spliced shots of generic bees flying around to an ominous sound track and plastic flies stuck onto the face of a victim as they are attacked. In fact, all the bees used in various sequences, from the plastic flies to the superimposed bees and the single close up of bees stinging skin seem to be different types, sizes and colours.

The Deadly Bees is an adaptation of ‘A Taste For Honey’ by H. F. Heard and is one of the director by Freddie Francis’ (The Elephant Man, Cape Fear) weaker films. All in all The Deadly Bees is a pretty naff, unsubstantial film that is not really worth watching except to marvel at the poor effects, which were bad even for that era which gave us such greats as The Birds, Jason and the Argonauts and Mary Poppins.

Fun Fact: Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones appears as a cameo at the start of The Deadly Bees playing with his previous band, The Birds.

 

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