I’m back! I’m not sure how I feel about my first post of 2018 being about a made-for-t.v. killer bee movie, but, I’m back! A couple of days ago, I read about 1995’s Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare and I knew I had to see it. I remember when people were genuinely scared about killer bees. I saw news reports about it when I was little, in the late 80s or very early 90s. I was six or seven at the time. In fact, I spent an afternoon in my family’s screened-in porch once after seeing a story about killer bees. Not like I had anything to worry about, I grew up in New Jersey.
This movie caught my attention because of its release date. Surprisingly, it’s hard to find information about its production but it was released in 1995 and that seems sort of late for a killer-bee fear movie. Also, it has a young Ryan Phillippe in it. Please excuse the picture quality, some kind people have uploaded this movie on YouTube but the picture quality isn’t great.
The movie opens with about ten different facts and warnings about bees. Inaccurate facts. Killer bees are actually a crossbreed of European and African honey bees. A scientist was trying to create a breed of bees that were better adapted to tropical conditions than the European strains being used. Twenty-six swarms were accidentally released in the late 1950s and they’ve been moving north ever since. Sorry, I should rename my blog BEE FACTS.
Anyway, I forgave this movie when I saw this warning.
The movie opens with a sheriff’s deputy trying to warn people in a dangerous abandoned house. Instead of going inside through the door like a normal person, he kind of wedges himself into an open window and is trapped. We then get a POV shot from the perspective of a swarm of bees attacking his mouth. I was hoping the movie would hold up this momentum but it doesn’t.
The movie follows the Ingram family. The parents are very busy, important business people who recently moved to southern California. Dad is a lawyer (Played by Robert Hays, aka Ted Striker from Airplane), mom’s an interior designer, and they recently bought an orchard that they want to make their primary business. They have three children and they’re busy living a very early 90s Laura Ashley-looking lifestyle. The parents are both on the phone when we meet them. The dad’s talking about depositions and the mom’s talking about fabric. They both have very distinct, different-looking phones in their hands, but there’s this weird gag where they accidentally switch phones and talk to the wrong person. But we never see them put the phones down. It’s so weird. This movie is a little strange.
Dad first becomes aware of killer bees when he sees a Department of Agriculture woman putting out traps for them. But then he talks to dreamy, Fabio-esque beekeeper Ken (Michael A. Nickles), who beekeeps while wearing a chambray shirt, and he feels better.
Ken is so chill around bees that he signs paperwork with his hand all covered in bees.
The family continues with their lives unworried about bees until two classmates of their children are killed by killer bees. Technically, the teens went to make out near the town billboard and didn’t notice there were killer beehives nearby and the bees started stinging them. They tried to drive away but get hit by a truck. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the bees entirely for that. The guy had been drinking and driving earlier in the movie. This is maybe 70% the bees’ fault but 30% his fault.
Ryan Phillippe plays Tom, a friend of the Ingram’s son and the teen who’s killed. He harbors a grudge against the bees and flings rocks at the hives as they’re BEE-ING destroyed (Oh god, I’m so sorry).
The parents also meet Pruitt Taylor Beauchamp (Dennis Christopher), an eccentric entomologist whose job it is to make the mom even more terrified of killer bees.
Beauchamp is like every member of the Lone Gunmen rolled into one person and we only get five minutes of screen time with him. He just kind of wanders up to where the killer beehives are, wanders away, and then speaks very loudly at a cafe. Him and the dreamy beekeeper are basically the best characters in the movie.
Deadly Invasion originally aired on Fox, the home of The X-Files, and it isn’t lost on me that there are even some X-Files-style government agents that are toeing the government’s line about killer bee policy. The audience os clearly supposed to be outraged that the government isn’t doing more to fight the killer bee threat.
This movie’s purpose is basically to make the public aware of killer bees. There will be normal dialogue but then the actors will get all stiff and weird and start spouting out BEE FACTS.
The movie culminates with Tom taking vengeance on the bees by shooting hives at the family’s orchard with a gun. In this movie, if you need someone to do something incredibly dumb then you just need to call Tom over. The family winds up trapped in their house because of Tom.
This movie is such an odd little time capsule. Possibly one of the last made for t.v. movies from the major networks. I don’t watch current t.v. movies because they’re schlocky on purpose and that’s not fun. This is from the end of the era of earnest t.v. movies.
This movie is cheesy fun. That being said, don’t expect a high body count. The deputy and the teen couple are the only people who die. The Ingram family’s youngest daughter gets stung at one point and the mom just recites, “Five or six stings on a child her size!” which is basically word for word something Beauchamp said earlier.
This movie is so clearly trying to make us aware of and scared of killer bees, I can’t help but love it. Aside from the low body count, my main criticism is that the ending with the family escaping their house is the most boring part of the movie. Escaping a house full of killer bees shouldn’t be boring!
But then the movie redeems itself with this;
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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