TV Cream

Films: D is for...

Deadly Bees, The

Bottom drawer Amicus fun, from a time (the mid-’60s) when they’d only had one portmanteau horror out, and indeed didn’t really see themselves as a horror outlet at all. Anyway, this confused proto-Swarm mess was adapted by Robert Bloch from a novel (why is it that every film that appears to have little or nothing in the way of a coherent plot turns out to be adapted from a novel?), then rewritten on the fly during filming by director Freddie Francis, then butchered in the edit suite by Milton Subotsky (who cut Francis’ excessive two hour print down to just one hour, then found he had to stick in extra dream sequences and all sorts of rubbish just to pad it back out to feature length). It’s every bit as good as this genesis would suggest. In short, Suzanna ‘Chiffy Kids’ Leigh retires from the pop business (backed by Ronnie Wood’s old band The Birds) to a health farm staffed by rival bee-keepers and Frank “Bouquet of Barbed Wire” Finlay. Could the bees be… deadly, you think? They certainly don’t look it. They’re real bees all right (imported from Australia at relatively great expense) but the obvious difficulty in training bees to swarm menacingly out of doors and not just bugger off in all directions was ‘solved’ by painting a tiny room blue, filming the bees fly about in that, then matting them later over shots of Leigh in M&S underwear emoting like some kind of Leicestershire-hailing Tippi Hedren. It didn’t really work. Add to that an on-set disaster that resulted in a sound stage (and very nearly, Leigh herself) burning down, and devastating press reviews, and you won’t be surprised to hear the film turned a handsome profit. Still, it’s good shabby fun if you happen to be in the very precise mood to find such ramshacklery entertaining, though we’re still waiting for someone to show Amicus’ ill-fated sci-fi prolapse The Terrornauts.

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  1. Matt Patton

    July 28, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Made for a good episode of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, though, including the epic poem “Ode to a Cigarette Hag.”

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