Last night's late late movie. I had forgotten just how deliriously entertaining this big-budget disaster flick from 1978 was, though perhaps not in the way that producer/director Irwin Allen had originaly planned. Of course, melodrama was a big, integral part of the classic 70s disaster movies, but The Swarm is so over the top, yet played so straight down the line by the big-name cast, I was expecting Leslie Nielson to walk in at any moment and tell someone to stop calling him Shirley.
Unlike his previous big disaster hits, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, where Irwin Allen directed the action sequences but handed over the drama to a seasoned director, in The Swarm Allen decided to handle all the direction himself, which was probably the wrong decision as he doesn't seem to handle an all-star cast as well as he handles the flipping of an ocean liner or the burning of a skyscraper.
Though The Swarm signalled the start of the decline of the 70s disaster film genre, it's still a lot of fun and rarely boring. Apart from wondering what must have been going through the actors' minds, my favourite moments are when the bratty kid and his two friends throw molotov cocktails at the beehive and then take cover under garbage cans, the sight of Olivia De Havilland looking on in horror as small kids are stung to death in the schoolyard (in slow-motion, no less), the hilarious giant bee hallucinations that some of the survivors of the sting experience, and the bee attack on the mountain train (in which Irwin Allen finds the perfect way to solve a love triangle between three mature age singles).