review for The Swarm on AllMovie

The Swarm (1978)
by Brian J. Dillard review

This overlong and deeply silly disaster epic features one truly great moment: a scene in which a full passenger train plunges off the side of a mountain, killing all the B-list stars onboard. In all other respects, The Swarm is a sad parody of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, which were, themselves, campy, exploitative trash. The offensive, depressing, and/or stupid elements include: Olivia de Havilland attempting to fund her twilight years with a sappy turn as an indecisive, aging Southern belle; Michael Caine letting his clipped British tones and his crisp suit do the acting for him; Richard Widmark chewing scenery as a predictably haughty, deluded general; Fred MacMurray laying on the hometown hokum; Stepford Wife Katharine Ross, among others, enduring psychedelic bee-venom visions straight out of a cautionary LSD documentary; Henry Fonda warming up for his appearances in City on Fire and Meteor; too many obvious blue-screen shots to count; and the following piece of dialogue, "Sir, can we really count on a scientist who prays?" "I wouldn't count on one who doesn't." Producer/director Irwin Allen and screenwriter Stirling Silliphant could be excused for the stock scenarios, laughable pseudo-science, and general hamminess of this debacle; what's unforgivable is the lack of thrills.