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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Introducing the MBU: Phase One


Tonight I watched The Bees (Alfredo Zacarías, 1978), one of a series of the killer-bees-panic subgenre of the 1970s. John Saxon stars, so I immediately started texting Sean with a play-by-play of the film, mostly because for some reason Dad hated John Saxon and famously said he'd "shoot that son of a bitch" if he ever ran into him. Of course Dad actually would never do such a thing (although he did in a dream once, right in the face), but Sean and I have always found Dad's irrational hatred for an actor he never met pretty funny. 

Anyway, captured above is Sean's inspired moment where he laments the lack of an extended bee universe. I immediately dubbed it the "MBU," the Malevolent Bees Universe, aping Marvel's MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Phase One of the MBU begins with a recut of Freddie Francis' The Deadly Bees (1966), in which a beekeeper creates a strain of killer bees and uses them to start killing people because the scientific community doesn't take him seriously. After the bees kill a few people on remote Seagull Island, the mad beekeeper's plans are thwarted by a rival, ethical beekeeper. 

Phase One continues with Invasion of the Bee Girls (Denis Sanders, 1973). By looping in some new dialogue, it should be easy to connect this film with The Deadly Bees by revealing that the formula used to create the bee girls of this film draws upon the science established by the mad beekeeper in the first film. 

Next, Curtis Harrington's 1974 made-for-TV thriller Killer Bees our heroine, Victoria, encountering an eccentric family who are using Africanized bees to improve yields at their vineyard. With some editing tricks, we can connect villainess Madam Van Bohlen to the first two films by suggesting that her psychic power to control bee swarms is a result of experiments from the first two films. We could also suggest that our heroine, Victoria, is an ex-Bee Girl. By film's end, she has become the new Bee Queen. Perhaps we'll see her again...

Mission: Impossible creator Bruce Geller produced and directed The Savage Bees (1976), in which savage bees stow away on a freighter and attack partiers at Mardi Gras. With some simple newly-shot scenes, we can create a framing story that reveals the Bee Queen is behind this attack. 

Believe it or not, there was a sequel to The Savage Bees: Terror Out of the Sky (Lee H. Katzin, 1978). This time (thanks once again to some newly-shot footage), the Bee Queen uses her psychic bee control powers to attack a school bus, a marching band, a truck driver, and other unfortunates. What is her overarching plan? 

In Irwin Allen's The Swarm (1978), the bees mount their greatest assault yet, invading the continental United States in full force with only an all-star cast of classic Hollywood greats (Fred MacMurray! Olivia de Haviland! Michael Caine! Richard Widmark! Lee Grant! Ben Johnson! Richard Chamberlain! Henry Fonda! Katharine Ross! Slim Pickens!) standing against...THE SWARM! (And the Bee Queen, thanks to some dialogue looping and new scenes, of course.) 

Phase One of the MBeeU concludes, fittingly, with The Bees. After a tremendous amount of hilarious carnage, John Saxon learns how to communicate with the bees and basically acts as their spokesperson at the United Nations. The bees swarm the General Assembly, and in a fantastic cliffhanger to end Phase One, Saxon sides with the bees to demand humanity surrender control to the bees - or face genocide by bee sting. Wow, Dad was right: John Saxon really was a son of a bitch! At least in this role...


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