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The Deadly Bees is a 1967 British film produced by Hammer rival Amicus productions and adapted from the novel A Taste For Honey. The depressing story begins with overworked pop star Vicki Robbins (Suzanna Leigh) collapsing whilst lip-synching a "live" TV performance. Her doctor prescribes some immediate R&R for her, and packs her off to an old friend of his who has a farm on Seagull Island, isolated from the pressures of the outside world.

Said friend, Ralph Hargrove, (Guy Doleman) is a surly, despondent beekeeper. This cheerful old guy is married to a surly, despondent old woman that smokes and only pets their dog. Vicki's vacation really kicks into high gear once she meets the rival beekeeper in town, one Mr. Manfred (Frank Finlay). [1]

As it turns out, there're killer bees on Seagull Island. People (and animals) are attacked, including Hargrove's wife, and Hargrove seems to be the prime suspect. Manfred enlists Vicki's help to find evidence to prove Hargrove's guilt and stop the attacks.

The film was the target of episode 905 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1998, gaining it a certain amount of notoriety outside the British horror fandom.


The Deadly Bees contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Villainy: The Manfred character wasn't evil at all in the book, and is hinted to be Sherlock Holmes himself. Inverted with Hargrove, who was the villain in the book, but is innocent in the movie.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: The bees are lured to their victims by a substance the killer calls "the smell of fear". However, by the time the film is over, everyone but the bees intended targets are attacked because the villain is actually extremely inept at placing the substance.
  • Car Chase: Late in the film, Vicki tries to drive off with Hargrove's jeep in a panicked escape attempt. As this was also the late 60s, she does this wearing only a coat and underwear.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Vicki isn't in the original book at all; the protagonist is a male "country squire" type.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "The dog’s meat! Have you seen it?"
  • Everything's Worse with Bees
  • Fan Service: "This movie objectifies bras."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In about two seconds, Manfred manages to spill his smell o' fear juice on himself and break the tape player pacifying his bees. Simple Darwinism takes care of the rest.
  • Incriminating Indifference: Hargrove hated his wife. She's later killed by bees which everyone suspects to be Hargrove's, so we are led to assume that he's the one who did it. During the inquest, Hargove isn't sad at all which doesn't help his case on being innocent.
  • Jerkass: Hargrove. Apart from the way he treats his wife, there's also the fact that toward the end of the movie, he's perfectly willing to let Vicki move out of his house and stay with someone whom he is absolutely certain is a murderer. Granted, she is pretty annoying.
  • Kick the Dog: Hargrove literally swats the dog away to keep her out of his barn. Manfred gets one in when he passively-aggressively twists the knife on Hargrove about his wife being killed (true, he hated her, but this still seemed to piss him off).
  • Late to the Party: Harcourt is the younger of two officials who receive the mad beekeeper's threat, in the very first scene. He shows up at the very end—wearing a bowler hat—after everything's already resolved, much like a bookend. Because of the goofy incidental music and his lack of involvement in the plot, viewers (such as Best Brains) often treat it as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment because it seems like Harcourt came in out of nowhere.
  • Mister Exposition: Shut up, Manfred. Shut up.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Hargrove, though a tad light on the "Heart of Gold" part. Turns out he's not a murderer, just a bit of a jerk, and he's very quick to rescue both Inspector Hawkins and Vicki when they run into trouble. In the original book, though, Hargrove is the murderer.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution
  • Neutral Female: Doris. So neutral, in fact, that the movie didn't have the heart to actually kill her off.
  • Pastiche: The original book was one of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, it's hinted that the character who assists the hero is Sherlock himself. This character was turned into Manfred for the movie and made the villain.
  • Red Herring
  • Too Dumb to Live: I mean really, it should be obvious who the real killer is.
    • Protip for Manfred: They had spray bottles back in the 1960s.
  • Useless Protagonist: Apart from bumbling into danger, Vicki doesn't actually do much of anything.
    • She does end up throwing that stone bust at Manfred which spills the bee aggressor formula on his face, and she accidentally destroys the deadly bees by starting a fire.

"The dog's meat! Have you seen it?"

Notes

  1. Incidentally, Finlay played Iago to Laurence Olivier's Othello only two years before this movie's release. Unbelievable as it seems while watching The Deadly Bees, Finlay also portrayed Porthos in Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers 1973.
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