Once on the perpetually gloomy island, Vicki (Suzanna Leigh) discovers that there are two rival bee farmers: her host, Ralph Hargrove, a rather unpleasant sort, and Mr. Manfred, his kindly neighbor who welcomes Vicki warmly. Despite the friction between the neighbors, Vicki finds herself enjoying the island life until Mrs. Hargrove's dog--and later Mrs. Hargrove--are killed by swarms of bees. Hargrove and Manfred accuse each other of not controlling their bee hives. However, the coroner rules that the lethal attack on Mrs. Hargrove was "death by misadventure."
|A publicity still with Suzanna Leigh.|
While it's never surprising, The Deadly Bees (1966) is the best of the "killer bee" movies that appeared in the late 1960s and 1970s. That lot includes Irwin Allen's big-budgeted The Swarm (1978), The Bees (1978) starring John Saxon, and the made-for-TV movies Killer Bees (1974), The Savage Bees (1976), and Terror Out of the Sky (1978).
|It's hard to see the bees here as they buzz by.|
The screenplay lacks Bloch's usual flair, making me suspect that he served only as script doctor. While the dialogue is flat, there are some nice touches: Hargrove is an unappealing hero, there's no hint of romance between Vicki and him, and one character--who would have died in most movies--survives a bee attack.
Like director Francis, star Suzanna Leigh and several other cast members (Michael Ripper, Michael Gwynn) were Hammer Film veterans. Yet, while The Deadly Bees may look like a Hammer product, it was made by studio rival Amicus. The pretty Ms. Leigh was a busy actress in the 1960s, appearing opposite Elvis Presley in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) and as one of the stewardesses in the Tony Curtis-Jerry Lewis comedy Boeing, Boeing (1965). In real life, she was romantically linked to Richard Harris, Steve McQueen, and Michael Caine (who also battled bees in The Swarm).
|Ron Wood as a member of The Birds.|