the Movie Club Annals ...

  
 

The Bees and Terror Out of The Sky

 
 

Rating: ? Poseidons

 

?

?

 
 

The Bees - Reviewed by Tony W.

 

 Terror Out of The Sky - Reviewed by Carl R.

 

with Quotes and Contributions from the Entire Movie Club

 
    
The showing of The Bees and Terror Out of The Sky was the Movie Club's one and only double-feature to date.  Both of these films fall into the avant-garde category, and both tastefully cover the delicate subject of killer bees gone awry.  
  
  

The Bees

Terror Out of The Sky

   
   

  

 

 

 

  

1978

Starring: John Saxon and Angel Tompkins

alternate titles:

"The Sleeze"

"Bedeviled by Dee Devil Bees"

  
"The Bees" might well be titled "The Sleeze". Its very look suggests an unclean booth at a seedy diner in a run-down neighborhood. Washing your hands after viewing is advised. Interior set designs and scene lighting bespeak shallow 70's sensibilities on a garage-sale budget. Add to this the grainy, blurry quality of the movie and you end up with the feel of a cheap porn film sans jerkiness. This look would serve the right script well, but "script", in the minds of those who set this project in motion, obviously consisted of two words: "The" and "Bees". 
  
 

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Dr. Brooks, making his
impassioned speech to
the villagers.

The villagers, rejecting
the impassioned
speech of Dr. Brooks.

... and the end result.

  

Below is a verbatim transcription of the impassioned speech of Dr. Brooks:
 
"Wait! What do you men want here? All right, all right. I understand. Now listen to me. I know you no like devil bee. But I did not bring devil bee. Devil bee is already here. And next year, more! In two years, many many more las abejas del diablo! Unless ... unless I fix devil bee so she not sting so bad. Then devil bee good bee ... make plenty honey! You get honey, sell in market - make plenty money. But I need time - time to turn las abejas del diablo into good bee. So go home now. Please go, go home."
  
Does anyone disagree with the reaction of the villagers?
 
Not surprisingly, the cast features recognizable names long past their marginally superior "primes". John Saxon, a movie and television stalwart, plays an internationally renowned Bee Scientist, fresh from addressing an audience of United Nations delegates. Saxon shares top billing with Angel Tompkins, whose ditzy, unfocussed performance can't all be acting. She plays the inexplicably carefree widow of a South American Bee Scientist killed by bees early in the film. Angel survives this attack. (Prior to being stung to death, her late husband delivers one of filmdom's most stupid speeches. A South American, he tells a crowd of South Americans, "I know you no like devil bee.") John Carradine, in the terminal stages of narcolepsy, languishes through his good-natured role of yet another, eccentric Bee Scientist. To this inept trio is entrusted the responsibility of saving the world (at least the United States) from the escalating Killer Bee Menace. If the world looks as bad as it is portrayed in this film, cheer for the Bees. They, at least, are clean, orderly, and reside in aesthetically-pleasing, hexagonal abodes. 
 
 

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The apartment, 
the happy widow, 
John Saxon,
and the hooker.

Bad hair day,
all the way around

Yes, he really is asleep.

 
 
Not so for Saxon. Although he is a World-Renowned Scientist, his home is a seedy apartment in what appears to be a ghetto. Angel, bringing bees to him from South America late at night, is attacked in the elevator of his building by two low-lives who are themselves predictably felled by the nasty little insects. Again, Angel is spared. The Killer Bees must like her.  
 
How do we mobilize the U.S. to combat this most deadly threat to the existence of our country? We enlist the resources of the federal government, of course. But, typically, we discover therein a Bee Conspiracy, one which dwarfs any Assassination, Watergate, or Iran-Contra Conspiracy. Nothing must be done to jeopardize the monies illegally reaped from the Status Bee Quo by scheming politicians and corrupt, greedy businessmen whose evil is broadcast to all beholders by their madras-plaid sport coats. Wealth is apparently preferable to Death for such idiots. Thus, in keeping with the MRR (Moral Retribution Requirement) of every Bee movie, they pay dearly for their venality, killed on cue by ...guess who? Thus, the Bee Threat remains. And only John and Angel are on the case, Carradine having fallen asleep. Later, thugs in the employ of the Status Bee Quo baddies kill Carradine (or did he just nod off again?) but are themselves killed by John and Angel with help from...guess who?
 
 

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The Congressman, 
getting an extra strong
 morning drink
The Congressman, 
unable to operate the complicated door handle.
The Congressman,
 carefully falling 
out the window.
 
 
John develops a chemical to prevent the Killer Bees from breeding by turning them into homosexuals who will not mate with the Queen. This occasions some weak gay bee humor , missing all of the possibilities offered by "Killer Queen". However, as Angel and John discover after their inevitable coupling, the bees have rapidly developed an immunity to this homo-bromide and they resume their devastation en masse. Our heroic pair awakes from sexual bliss to discover the walls of their bedroom covered with thousands of bees who do not attack them. It seems that they are trying to "communicate" with John and Angel. Wow! What bad timing!
 
Stock-footage of aerial and urban scenes (grainier than the main footage) is inexpertly spliced into feature footage to illustrate the horrors of the killer bee attacks. School children, inexplicably allowed outside at the height of the Bee Attack, get The Big Sting. High-flying, pressurized, metal aircraft, recruited for the Bee War, are penetrated by interceptor bees and crash in flames when their crews, cocooned in flying suits and helmets, are stung. All of which makes me wonder why no bee has ever managed to break into my home or car.
 
The denouement , acted out in a United Nations emergency session, is preposterous. But, then again, why not end these cinematic bombs with compassionate quickness?

 

 

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John Saxon, 
giving the U.N. a piece of
 his mind. It was a brief
 meeting.
Angel Thompkins, calling
 everyone in the U.N. 
"... a bunch of idiots."
 Convincing, isn't she?
The Bees, flying in the
 open skyscraper window
 of the U.N. building.
 
Bee and wasp stings hurt. Anaphylactic shock, caused by bee stings, can cause death. So why do I revel in the scenes in which the bees nail one victim after another? Do I identify with their ridding society of stupid people and am I expressing that identification on a different level by metaphorically stinging the stupid people who made "The Bees". Signs point to "Yes". 
 
Harlan Ellison, the award-winning science-fiction author and media critic, once skewered a John Saxon television performance with a line I've recycled many times: "He should have phoned in his part." What an interesting possibility this suggests. Could we not reduce this and the entire Bee Menace genre to a mere soundtrack, i.e., a radio show? Why not? We all know the story line - Killer Bees Attack America. Courageous Scientist And Girlfriend Valiantly Fight Back. Think of how riveting the utterance"Bzzzzz.....what's that sound?" be on radio.
 

Observation from Liz C.

Just what were the bees demanding in their negotiations with the U.N.? While the movie didn't provide any particular insight into this matter, Movie Club member Liz C. did. Liz, as it happens, speaks fluent Bee, so she was able to translate for the rest of us. The bees were demanding to have the letter "B" assigned as the first letter of the alphabet. We accede, of course, and have re-written a verse of a once popular Jackson 5 song to show our commitment to the new system:

BAC ...
Easy as 213 ...
Or simple as re do mi ... 
BAC, 213, you, baby and me girl! ...
BAC ...
213, baby, oo ooo!
BAC, baby, nah nah!
Re do mi, baby, huh!
That's how easy love can bee.   
 
  
 

A Parting Note from Dr. Sigmund Hummel

"Zey know, zey know everyting. Zey are tinking bees"

 

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John Carradine, as Dr. Sigmund Hummel

GNN 

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The preceding program was brought to you by GNN (Garage News Network).

 
  
  
 

 

 1978

 

Starring: Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Grizzly Adams, and Tovah Feldshu

 
 
"Terror Out of The Sky" is the sequel to the 1976 movie "The Savage Bees", which immediately raises a number of red flags. For starters, just how bad must a movie be before it tries to capitalize on the fame of a rightfully obscure and horridly inept production of the same genre?
 
 

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The red flags only become more foreboding from there, for Terror is entirely too boastful of the fact that is was able to secure the acting services of Dan Haggerty.   Dan Haggerty, if you'll recall, destroyed his illustrious career as Grizzly Adams when it became apparent that he was Hollywood's leading consumer of a white powdery substance known to cause euphoria in fictitious, bearded TV naturalists with weight problems.  
  
 

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"Absolute quiet is necessary"

terror_sky_street.JPG (15352 bytes)

 
  
But still more red flags. As the credits continue rolling on Terror, we flash back to a scene from the climactic conclusion of its parent movie, The Savage Bees. In this scene, a local official is using a ten thousand decibel loudspeaker in the middle of downtown New Orleans to announce that "absolute quiet is necessary", lest the stone-deaf killer bees become upset by all the noise. Aside from the obvious logistical problems with this scenario, we find that the voice coming through the loudspeaker in Terror is not same voice as was used in Savage.  
 
 

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Gretchen Corbett, as 
Jeannie Devereux, in 
The Savage Bees

Tovah Feldshu, as
Jeannie Devereux, in 
Terror Out of The Sky

 
 
And still during the opening credits, we are bestowed with yet another red flag. We are presented with a scene of Jeannie Devereux, heroine of Terror, having a flashback to Savage, in which she is trembling inside her killer-bee-laden Volkswagon.  But what is different about Jeannie? Well, she is a different person - literally. Jeannie was played by Gretchen Corbett in Savage, while she is played by Tovah Feldshu in Terror. It seems that Gretchen was too busy to play Jeannie again, as she was co-starring with Eve Plumb (of Brady Bunch fame), in the acclaimed production of  "The Secrets of Three Hungry Wives".
 
Now a full 54 seconds into the movie, it is confirmed that we are dealing with a bona fide bad bee movie. Finally, the credits end and we are free to start dissecting some of Terror's more languid aspects.  
  
  

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 mmmm ... ... and a-one, and a-two ...  Here's Efrem, 
applying the life-saving 
blanket maneuver.
 
 
Observe the above-pictured Lab Technician at the National Bee Center,  having a particularly bad day at work. 
 
First, he is caught red-handed eating some of the specimens he is supposed to be examining. Worse than that, he doesn't appear to realize that he shouldn't be eating the lab specimens.  
  
Next, he goes out to inspect Hive #112 for killer bee activity. He is promptly attacked by the little devils,  and employs the unique defensive strategy of dawdling around while the killer bees sting him repeatedly and en masse. His strategy backfires, and he is mortally wounded in the attack.
 
As he lay dying on a gurney, a number of heroic measures are taken to save his life:

1) An incompetent junior lab technician takes his pulse.

2) Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. pulls a blanket over his knees.

3) Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and the incompetent junior lab technician abruptly cease all forms of treatment and leave him for dead on the gurney.  

In spite of receiving the best treatment modern medicine has to offer, our lab technician cannot overcome the carnage of the killer bee attack, and his very bad day at work finally comes to a permanent end.

Perhaps it would have been productive to call a doctor, a nurse, or an EMT. Or maybe some truly creative measures could have been employed, like CPR, medication, or a hospital. But the damage is done, and there's no sense in  Monday morning quarterbacking now.

 
 

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 Hive #112, National Bee Center, 90210

 
 
As an aside, it is never explained why any of the killer bees are still alive, especially given that they were all killed off in the first movie. Perhaps the little conspirators all faked their deaths in order to cash in on their life insurance policies?   

It is also never explained why the killer bees selected the National Bee Center as their destination for this movie. We can only assume it was because all the State and Municipal Bee Centers were closed for the holiday weekend, and they had nowhere else to go.  
  
  

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The Trinity of Imbeciles 

 
 
As with Tony W's. cousin movie "The Bees", the formula for hunting down wayward swarms of killer bees is to recruit a trio of ill-equipped, bungling  imbeciles who can't tell a killer bee from a killer whale. In Terror, this formula is strictly adhered to. 

 

We have Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who is usually too preoccupied with making eyes at Jeannie to worry about the killer bees and their insidious plans for mankind.  

 

We have Grizbee Adams, who is usually too preoccupied with making eyes at Jeannie to worry about the killer bees and their insidious plans for mankind.  
And we have Jeannie, who is usually too preoccupied with making eyes at Grizbee Adams and  Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. to worry about the killer bees and their insidious plans for mankind.  Jeannie is also a raging pedophile with a penchant for young boys, but we'll come back to that.
 
But moving along, our imbecilic trio has a mission.  The National Bee Center has accidentally mailed out three boxes of killer bees to unsuspecting hive owners, and Efrem, Grizbee, and Jeannie must retrieve them before it's too late.
 
 

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The Ill-advised Theft and Movement of Bee-Box #2

 
 
Missing bee-box #1 is retrieved by running a teenage driver off the road in front of a Post Office, then stealing the bee-box off the back of his truck by  committing an act of criminal impersonation. It is not clear why none of the many available legal and practical means of doing the same thing were used. 

Missing bee-box #2 has already been transferred into a hive in a far-away provincial state. Grizbee Adams is kind enough to fly the cracked team out to Hicksville to retrieve it. Once the Trinity of Imbeciles pinpoints the precise location of the serpentine hive, they commit a variety of illegal, immoral, fraudulent, haphazard, and dim-witted acts in order to separate it from its rightful owner.  They ultimately dispose of bee-box/hive #2 by moving it (against their own advice) into a pickup truck, and gassing the killer bees with a mysteriously-appearing tank of insecticide. 
 
 

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Don't worry, Eric,
 it's all legal.
Don't worry, Eric,
 it's all legal.
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, ...
 
 
But missing bee-box #3 is where the real action is. It is spotted during a reconnaissance mission in Grizbee Adam's airplane. Grizbee makes a spectacular emergency landing onto a nearby baseball field, where a game is in full progress. 
 
Determined to quickly track down the last remaining group of Beelzebub bees, Jeannie immediately hops off the plane so she can organize a search party. But she has a dilemma. She doesn't want to risk the safety of any of the available fully-grown, responsible, self-sufficient adults, a group composed of policemen, firemen, military personnel, townsfolk, and bee keepers.  So, in order to keep all the defenseless adults out of harm's way, she uses her seductive charms to manipulate a 14 year-old Boy Scout and a dozen of his buddies into searching for the killer bees in the nearby woods. Her strategy works.  The boys find the bloodthirsty bees, and not a single adult human is harmed in the process. 
 
But wait, a problem ... the stone deaf bees suddenly become incensed by the sound of the nearby marching band, and they swarm into attack formation.  The adult humans are in great peril, and Jeannie must save them. Her only option is to create a diversion that will lure the beastly bees away from the adults. She does this by leading all the minor-aged boys onto a parked bus and repeatedly honking the horn until it captures the attention of the stone deaf bees. Within seconds, the stone deaf bees turn their attention away from the imperiled adults, and toward the honking of the adolescent-filled school bus. The school bus is soon enveloped in a cadaverous shroud of killer bees, turning it into a veritable death trap for the children.  But the adults are all still safe, and that's all that matters.
 
 

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Don't worry, Eric,  it's all legal.

 
 
This is the point at which things begin to get a little weird. Jeannie, fearing that the killer bees may gain entrance to the bus through one of the three air vents, instructs all thirteen strapping young lads to take off their shirts and use them to block the air vents. Jeannie now has a busload of cherub Chippendales to keep her occupied while she thinks of the next big move.  The boys now have a little more to worry about than even they realize, as Jeannie seems destined to land on the next issue of Registered Sexual Offender's List. 
 
 

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Dead Bees Walking!

The Gas Chamber

 
 
Fortunately - very fortunately, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. concocts a rescue scheme to get Jeannie and the boys off of the bus before the situation deteriorates even further.  Efrem's plan is pretty simple. He'll just don a beekeeper's suit, spray it with queen bee juice, have a Coast Guard helicopter lower him onto the roof of the bee-infested bus, get each and every killer bee to land on him, have the Coast Guard helicopter lift him and killer bees off of the bus, transport the whole lot of them to an abandoned Coast Guard missile complex, lower them into the missile silo, walk the bees into a sealed chamber, and gas them all to death.   What could go wrong?
  
Lots of things could go wrong.  The first phases of Efrem's plan go off without a hitch, but through a series of incomprehensibly stupid moves, Efrem ends up gassing himself along with the bees. His death was so completely avoidable that it took a near-Herculean effort to find a way to get himself killed. After all, this is a man who starred in 239 episodes of the F.B.I. Perhaps the bees took control of Efrem's mind. Perhaps they were communicating demands to him that he didn't understand. Perhaps, like in "The Bees", the bees had another alphabetic demand. Maybe they wanted the F.B.I. renamed to the F.Bee.I, the B.F.I., or maybe even the Bee.F.I. We'll never know for sure.  
  
 

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Efrem's Swan Song 

 
  
We'll also never know why the Coast Guard had a unit stationed in New Mexico, a state without a coast.  We'll never know if the Boy Scouts ever fully recovered from their multi-tiered traumas of that fateful day on the bus. We'll never know if Jeannie and Grizbee ever got married, or if Jeannie and Eric the Boy Scout stayed in touch over the years. And we'll never know if Jeannie ever got help with her rather peculiar companionship foibles. 

Sadly, a sequel to Terror Out of The Sky was never made. It could have been one of the great trilogies of all time - "The Savage Bees", "Terror Out of The Sky", and "Lord of The Bees: Return of The Queen".

There are many directors who consider unanswered questions to be an artistic way of ending a movie. We do not share in that view. 
 
  
CR