It’s possible to almost love GIANT KILLER BEES! for giving audiences one of the most epic plot lines of the entire 1313 series: a renegade researcher seeking to save the planet’s honey bee population sabotages his own illicit experiments in search of accelerated results. His dumbass efforts accidentally unleash the titular horrors, triggering a global eco-apocalypse (which of course we never see…). His unwitting team of lab rats – another identikit cast of twinks, hunks and jocks – falls prey to the mutant bees’ stings, turning them one by one into mindless killer drones (or ‘zombees’ if you will…).
The 5th entry in the 1313 series suffers from an extreme low budget / limited effort stasis that causes the film to seriously flatline. We’re used to “DeCoteau’s Boys” writhing around in their undies of course, but with one protracted bedroom sequence and two whole shower scenes stuffed into its meagre running time, there’s way too much exploitation padding in this one. This unevenness forces screenwriter Moses Rutegar to dump his load in an excess of premature exposition. Poor Lewis (Darren Anthony Thomas) gets to deliver the worst of this, boring the audience as much as he already has his onscreen girlfriend (Anna/Jillian Nelson).
Such shortcomings are further exposed by stationery store bee hives, face-palm appalling CGI that under-delivers on the title’s premise (we get one giant bee, max…), a kitchen counter lab that looks more like someone’s junior science kit, and swathes of exterior shots seemingly commissioned by the Puerto Rico tourist board (the 1313 mansion of the interiors is actually in Malibu). Worse still, your ears will feel mugged by an excess of stock scores and scares thrown at you by the soundtrack, the filmmakers dramatically over-compensating in the edit for the lack of any actual on-screen action.
Along the way we learn some valuable life lessons about the potential for corruption from big money investment in eco science, about not staffing your game-changing lab experiments with soccer playing grad students (who would rather take showers than save the world…), and about how treating your employees like the idiots they are can result in some unruly behaviour. As that swift roundup also suggests, it’s another of the 1313 titles with a mere glimmering of queer character and an obviously – bordering on obsessively! – queer lens.
Speaking of which, soon-to-be zombee Steve (Carey James) gets to star in surely one of the longest bedroom scenes in 1313 history. He writhes around on an ugly duvet for so long you will start to 1) become more than a little bored, 2) wonder if there is something actually wrong with him, and 3) marvel at how James rises to the acting challenge (there really isn’t much else the poor guy can do, apart from whip it out…). As is often the way when watching such exploitation fare, your eye will roam the frame for distracting entertainment. Watch carefully here and you will see Steve’s black socks come and go in the edit, an unintended foot fetisher’s fan dance born of bodged continuity.
In its favour, the startling found footage that bookends everything would set up a much better exploitation film than we actually get and it’s possible to find DeCoteau’s roving POV beecam innovation strangely enchanting (imagine putting a plastic egg carton over the lens…). Many of the other pleasures are incidental… You’ll either enjoy this cast of twinks – not forgetting twinkette Anna, who magically remains fully clothed… – or you won’t.
In brief: A renegade researcher seeking to save the planet’s honey bees accidentally triggers an eco-apocalypse.
In briefs: Despite the film’s titular promise of honey, DeCoteau’s ‘zombees’ fail to buzz.
Watched late on DVD, 08 DEC 2019 .