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BALDWIN: To bee or not to bee? Bee-themed movies to check out

Greetings, my fellow cinephiles in our colony of Winchester.

2020 has been a year that will challenge our wits and is a daily feat of strength as it taxes us on physical and emotional levels. Health updates on the coronavirus, daily death toll updates, political turmoil, COVID conspiracies, economic hardships and PPE requirements are now the norm.

Just when we thought we were coming out on the other side, and could see a ray of hope, the skies and media waves are swarmed with the buzz of our new threat: the large, venomous Asian murder hornet (not to be confused with Kato of “The Green Hornet”).

Keeping it topical, fly with me as we pollinate your cinematic minds with the sci-fi subgenre of bee movies, which has been around since the 1950’s B-movies craze, and in later years was perfected like a low-budget nectar for movie lovers on the SyFy channel and streaming services.

“The Wasp Woman” (1959) is the tale of a cosmetics queen who is transformed into a murderous wasp monster after using an insect chemical in hopes of preserving her beauty.

“The Deadly Bees” (1966) is a British film about a loony beekeeper who developed a strain of killer bees that fly amok after authorities deem the keeper’s threats to be nothing more than a threat. Based off the 1941’s novel, “A Taste of Honey,” “The Deadly Bees” is a fun hive of horror. 

The 1974 made-for-TV “Killer Bees” stars Gloria “Sunset Boulevard” Swanson as the no-nonsense matriarch over a family vineyard who can control killer bees that reside among her fruit. If you love cheese, “Killer Bees” serves up in large portions for you to enjoy in this wine-infused bee movie that should make you laugh like the effects of consuming fermented fruit.

“The Savage Bees” (1976) follows a swarm of killer bees brought to New Orleans (like they haven’t dealt with enough) during Mardi Gras as a scientist tries to stop the attack. If you enjoy character actors of yesteryear, “The Savage Bees” is all that and a bottle of beeswax as it stars Ben “Have Gun Will Travel” Johnson, Michael “From Dusk Till Dawn” Parks and none other than James “The Dukes of Hazzard” Best. You had my attention at Roscoe P. Coltrane.

“The Swarm” (1978) is an American disaster-horror film, which was a popular 70s genre, about an invasion of killer bees in Texas. With big stars like Michael “Alfie” Caine, Henry “Grapes of Wrath” Fonda and a brood of notable Hollywood names, “The Swarm” was more of a bumbling blockbuster bomb than a cinematic thriller that packed a sting resulting in being panned as one of the worst movies ever made by critics and viewers alike.

Lastly, “Bee Movie” (2007) is the blockbuster animated flick about a bee named Barry, voiced by Jerry Seinfeld, who sues the human race for exploiting bees after discovering through his human friend Vanessa, Renée “Me, Myself and Irene” Zellweger that people sell and consume honey. “Bee Movie” is a solid film that is enjoyable for children and adults because of the genuine heart in the story with the support of talents Matthew “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” Broderick, Patrick “Seinfeld” Warburton, John “Barton Fink” Goodman and Chris “SNL” Rock.

Stay strong during these crazy times. If you keep a positive mindset, persevere and maintain a pretty good sense of humor about our daily state of affairs, you are sure to make it through each day with each step being based in wisdom and not panic reactions. This too shall pass.

Hey, at least it’s not mosquitos or giant gypsy moths.

Keep your eyes on the sky and have a film-tastic day! 

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.