31 Days of Horror: The Deadly Bees
Seriously, am I the only person who likes The Deadly Bees? The film has been given the Mystery Science Theater treatment and only manages a 2.6/10 at IMDB, but it has a nice style and is far from the worst of the “mysterious happenings at quaint English village” movies. It features striking visuals from director Freddie Francis, good character acting from Guy Doleman, Frank Finlay, and Michael Ripper. Beautiful women (Suzanna Leigh and Katy Wild) and even a cameo by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones.
Pop singer Vicki Robbins (Suzanna Leigh), suffering from exhaustion is sent to Seagull Island for a fortnight of rest and relaxation. On the remote island Vicki encounters dueling beekeepers, a bickering host couple that make George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? look like sappy newlyweds. Soon, killer bee attacks start up on the island. Apparently not only is someone raising killer bees, but is also training them to attack specific targets, but who is controlling the deadly bees, the boorish Hargrove or the kindly Manfred?
The Deadly Bees is not a classic by any definition, but it is great fun. It is a great rainy day flick. The film looks great and has that easy charm so prevalent in British horror films of the 1960’s. The film was made by Amicus, who made their name with 4 story horror anthologies like Asylum and Dr Terror’s House of Horrors. Most Amicus feature length films really would have been better suited to the short format of the anthology as they usually feel a bit padded out at feature length. Also the longer running times give more time for the holes in the plot to appear. The Deadly Bees is no exception. While hardly horrific by the standards of today’s gore fests, the script by horror master Robert Bloch creates some real menace and tension. Even without blood the bee attacks are fairly gruesome with close-ups of bees stinging human flesh. The attack on Vicki in her bathroom, clad only in a bra and half slip is quite creepy.
The DVD from Legend Films and Paramount could hardly look better. The film is presented in 1:78 widescreen with luscious colors and strong mono sound. It is really nice to see the care taken on such a minor film.