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Film: The Deadly Bees

The Deadly Bees is a 1967 British film produced by 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). note 

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. To read a recap of the MST3K episode, go here.

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 is attacked, because the villain is actually extremely inept at placing the substance.
  • Brick Joke: Harcourt (the Bowler-Hatted Guy) at the end was one of the inspectors from the beginning of the film, finally showing up late to investigate the bee-centric goings on at Seagull Island. Adding to the strangeness is that he's sporting a goofy grin, absolutely delighted to visit Seagull Island, for whatever reason.
  • 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
  • Evil Versus Evil: Manfred hints that Hargrove was interested in his killer bees to use for himself. So it may be that Hargrove is a villain after all.
    • More likely, Manfred was just paranoid about someone wanting to steal his secrets and wanted Hargrove eliminated. Hargrove extracting blood from the horse wasn't for the adrenaline, but rather to treat its illness. Hargrove was also a veterinarian.
  • Fanservice: "This movie objectifies bras."
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Guy Doleman (Hargrove) played the original Number 2 in the first episode of The Prisoner.
  • 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.
  • Jerk Ass: 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.
  • Just Between You and Me / Evil Gloating: Manfred becomes Mr. Exposition because he's sure Vicki is completely at his mercy.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Pretty in Mink: Vicky starts out wearing to film a music video, and then promptly collapses in the middle of the song, probably due to fainting from the heat.
  • Obviously Evil: Manfred couldn't be any more transparent if he tried. Hargrove is a subversion, being an outright Jerk Ass but not a villain.
  • 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. Yet Vicki buys his flimsy, stammering explanation for why he wasn't harmed by the swarming that killed Mrs. Hargrove without hesitation.
    • 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?"
The Dead Talk BackMystery Science Index 3000 The Deadly Mantis
Days Of ThunderCreator/ParamountDouble Indemnity
Danger Death RayFilms of the 1960sThe Dirty Dozen
DeadgirlHorror FilmsDeadly Friend

alternative title(s): The Deadly Bees
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