The Deadly Bees
|The Deadly Bees|
A promotional poster for The Deadly Bees
|Directed by||Freddie Francis|
|Produced by||Max J. Rosenberg
|Written by||Robert Bloch
H.F. Heard (novel)
|Music by||Wilfred Josephs|
|Editing by||Oswald Hafenrichter|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||19 May 1967 (NYC)|
|Running time||83 minutes|
The Deadly Bees is a 1966 British horror–thriller film based on H.F. Heard's 1941 novel A Taste for Honey. It was directed by Freddie Francis, and stars Suzanna Leigh, Guy Doleman, and Frank Finlay. It was released theatrically in the United States in 1967. It was featured in a 1998 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Though the screenplay was written from the novel by noted author Robert Bloch, best known for Psycho, critics invariably derided the film, generally citing its uninspired acting, ludicrous special effects (including plastic flies glued to actors' faces to show them being "stung"), and continuity errors. Bloch blamed the film's poor showing on the fact he wrote it for Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, who ultimately were unable to be cast due to scheduling difficulties, and on the fact that the director, with the aid of a writer called Anthony Marriott, decided to 'improve' his script. Consequently the film "soon buzzed off into critical oblivion, unwept, unhonoured and unstung" wrote Bloch.
The film opens with two men from an unnamed ministry commenting a spate of letters from a beekeeper claiming to have developed a strain of killer bees. They dismiss him as a lunatic, though his letters claim he will start killing people if he is not taken seriously.
Meanwhile, pop singer Vicki Robbins (Suzanna Leigh) collapses from exhaustion on television, and is sent to recuperate in a cottage on Seagull Island. The proprietors of the "rest home" are a depressed and disgruntled couple, Ralph and Mary Hargrove (Guy Doleman and Catherine Finn). Ralph is a beekeeper, as is his neighbor, H.W. Manfred (Frank Finlay).
Vicki begins noticing a spate of mysterious happenings. Mary Hargrove and her dog are attacked by the bees and killed, leading Vicki to suspect Hargrove. She and Manfred begin to snoop around. He encourages her to search through Hargrove's papers. In doing this, she finds that Hargrove has managed to isolate "the smell of fear" into a liquid form. Manfred tells her this must mean that Hargrove has been baiting the bees with this substance.
Vicki's snooping methods do not go unnoticed; she soon gets attacked by bees in her room at the cottage. She eventually escapes to Manfred's house, where she decides to stay until she can catch the next boat off the island. Manfred begins acting suspiciously, so Vicki decides to do some more of her own detective work. She discovers his secret laboratory, which leads him to admit that he indeed is the one who has been causing this all along. He tells Vicki he has been intending to kill Hargrove all along, but now that she knows the secret, he will have to kill her too. She thwarts his attempt, leading him to be stung to death and her to set the house on fire. She escapes the burning house, and leaves the island the next day just as someone in a bowler hat from the ministry finally arrives to investigate the deaths.
- Allmovie gave the film a negative review, writing, "there's little in Bees worth watching."
- Referencing The Birds,the New York Times regretted "Mr. Hitchcock would never have sanctioned a sloppy, raucously framed little thriller like this"
The television sequence toward the beginning features a performance by British pop group The Birds (not to be confused with American group The Byrds). The group's lead guitarist is Ronnie Wood, later of The Faces and The Rolling Stones and the sequence was filmed on January 14, 1966 at Shepperton Studios.
- Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 43-45
- Once Around the Bloch: An Unauthorised Autobiography (1993) p. 332
- Craig Butler. "The Deadly Bees (1967)". Allmovie. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Thompson, Howard (1967-05-20). "Movie Review - The Vulture - The Screen:'Deadly Bees' Tops Bill at Local Theaters". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- The Deadly Bees at the Internet Movie Database
- The Deadly Bees at allmovie
- The Monster Shack's review