Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Deadly Bees, Petula Clark battles an Apian Horror

Every year, 40,000 Americans are killed in Texas and Florida by swarms of African killer bees (EMBELLISHMENT!!!).  Hence today, we look at a much maligned bee horror flick, 1966's "The Deadly Bees."  More than a decade after this film, Michael Caine starred as a know-it-all and annoying etymologist, in "The Swarm."  Unlike that Irwin Allen, near classic, the protagonist in "The Deadly Bees" is the sultry pop-singer Vicki Robbins (Suzanna Leigh).  Where Caine wore a frown and a smirk, Ms. Leigh dons some nice under-garments, slightly tight pant-suits in her battle with the stingy pests.  Set on an island off of England, this film mixes horror with some mystery.
As our story begins, the government patent office in London receives a letter from a mad bee scientist on Seagull Island (every island off of England is teeming with either druid cults or mad scientists, as we know).  The deranged bee man demands England take his experiments with killer bees seriously, or he will unloose them on the citizenry.  The bureaucrats laugh, and then ignore him.  Also, the very lovely and talented pop-star, Vicki Robbins collapses while recording one of her hit songs on the set of a television show (see above photo).  Her doctor prescribes three weeks of rest, and sends her to convalesce with his old friend, a bee-keeper on Seagull Island.  The bee-keeper, Ralph Hargrove (Guy Doleman) is a grouchy sort, but we can understand this, as his wife (Catherine Finn) is homely and more grouchy.  To get ready for Vicki's arrival, Ralph hires a beautiful bar-maid, Doris (Katy Wild) as a servant for the duration on Vicki's stay.  Doris (killer bee bait) is more interested in getting intimate with Ralph, than serving Vicki, but will get along with her anyway.  
In order to get away from her grouchy hosts, Vicki befriends a charming and witty bee-keeper, Manfred (Frank Finlay, pictured below).  Hargrove warns Vicki to stay away from Manfred, as the two are rivals and bitter enemies.  Then the attacks start...and all signs point to Hargrove.  First, Hargrove's annoying dog, Tess is stung to death.  Then the homely and grouchy Mrs. Hargrove  gets turned into an organic pin cushion.  Manfred convinces Vicki to snoop around for clues that would prove Hargrove the culprit.  After she begins playing detective, the killer bees converge on Vicki. Clad only in lacy, seductive underwear, Vicki fights off the apian pests.  Horrified and desperate, Vicki then makes some eerie discoveries. 
Is Vicki's trust in the suave Manfred misplaced?  Is the grouchy Hargrove Vicki's real nemesis?  Will Vicki's misfortunes ultimately assist Petula Clark on England's pop-charts?  Suzanna Leigh is quite enthralling as the damsel in distress.  In every scene she is in, her sex-appeal is pulsating...which is quite contrasting to the dreary Seagull Island and it's bees.  Available on Netflix, this is a great "really sexy damsel in distress" movie.   

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