The Swarm (1978)
Beginning with the release of Airport in 1970 the all-star, disaster movie template was begun and put firmly into place; take a motley crew of current stars and has-beens, throw them into an either natural or man-made disaster, and sit back and watch the mayhem. At first these films were entertaining, offering such classics as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. By the time of Earthquake, Hurricane and Avalanche, the quality started to decline rapidly, until it had finally hit rock bottom with The Swarm.
Angry, venomous, Africanized killer bees are the culprits in this opus, and at a punishing 155 minutes, The Swarm is unendurable. The action (what little there is of it) involves badly filmed little black dots shown hovering around the affected areas and accompanied with slow-motion shots of people flailing around with a few bees sticking to their faces and clothes. These remarkable insects also have the ability to derail trains (the toy train set used for this effect is laughably obvious) and blow up a nuclear power plant.
The floundering cast includes Henry Fonda, Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Richard Widmark and others. The performances range from deadly serious (Caine), to visibily embarrassed (de Havilland) and to catatonic (Ross); and so we impatiently wait for the dot cloud to periodically swoop down and take out one these overpriced stars.
There is nothing exciting, nothing dramatic and nothing intelligent in evidence in The Swarm. It's the sort of film where it might be fun to watch with friends and make bets on who can stay conscious the longest. This will be much, much harder than it sounds.