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Terror Out of the Sky aka Revenge of the Savage Bees
This 1978 follow up to The Killer Bees was directed by Lee H. Katzin and sees Tovah Feldshuh cast as Jeannie Devereaux (played by Gretchen Corbett in the earlier movie). Having survived the events of the first film, she's now romantically involved with her boss, David Martin (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), will trying to sort out her romance with on again/off again boyfriend Nick Willis (Dan Haggerty).
In the midst of this sappy drama are… some bees! A batch of bad, killer bees has escaped from a lab of some sort and is now wreaking havoc across the south of the United States. As the bees attack high school marching bands and ruin peoples' baseball games, our three main characters have to try and figure out a way to put a stop to the menace, but before they do that, they'll have to figure out how to stop fighting amongst themselves for a minute in what turns out to be a pretty dire mix of reasonably amusing, if dated, insect attack sequences and tepid, insipid drama.
When the killer bees are doing their thing, the movie is entertaining. It never approaches masterpiece status, but it gets your attention and provides some reasonably effective thrills and chills. Our heroes try to get those in power to listen (they don't) and try to get those who are soon to be affected to cooperate (they don't) all while greed and power plays throw a monkey wrench into their plans to try and save the country. None of this is particularly surprising, but again, killer bees are kind of an interesting premise for a horror/thriller/suspense picture and that aspect of the storyline is handled reasonably well in Terror Out Of The Sky.
The human element, however, specifically the drama and the love triangle angle, whenever it rears its ugly head? It brings the movie to a screeching halt. Unfortunately the characters just aren't developed enough or interesting enough for us to latch on them and want to know how their plight plays out. These characters aren't interesting, they're just one dimensional and that fact really hurts what could and should have been a fun seventies nature run amok movie.
As to the acting? It's fine. It isn't great, it isn't terrible, it's just fun. Tovah Feldshuh has a great face. She's interesting to look at. Attractive enough, and we have no problem buying her as brainy. She's a good choice for the part, the part just isn't that meaty or interesting. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is kind of forgettable. He looks the part, but his action just isn't very interesting. Dan Haggerty, that's right, Grizzly Adams himself, steals a few scenes from everyone else. He's very watchable here, as he is in most things, simply because you're never not aware of the fact that you're watching the guy who played Grizzly Adams fight some killer bees. There are a few fun supporting players here as well, like Lonny Chapman, Ike Eisenmann and Richard Herd, but the bulk of the movie revolves around our three main leads.
Production values are alright for a CBS seventies movie of the week. The bee attacks aren't always convincing but they are always cool in the way that neat, outdated effects work can be neat. The score isn't super memorable but it's decent. The cinematography is pretty good and the editing is fine. It's just a shame that the movie gets bogged down in the unnecessary and uninteresting drama, because that hurts it a lot.
Kino brings Terror Out Of The Sky to region A Blu-ray on a 25GB disc with the ninety-four minute feature taking up just under 20GBs of space and framed at 1.33.1 widescreen. Generally speaking, this is a pretty nice transfer. Detail doesn't rise to the levels that it would have had the movie been given a new 4k scan but it definitely takes advantage of the format and looks pretty decent overall. Colors look nice and natural and there's some pretty nice depth noticeable in the image. The elements used for the transfer were clearly in great shape, there's very little print damage here, though the film's natural grain is retained. Compression artifacts, noise reduction and edge enhancement are a never an issue. All in all, this looks quite good.
The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only. The track is clean, clear and nicely balanced and for an older mono mix for a low budget film from the early seventies, it sounds pretty solid. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue is always clean and easy to hear.
Aside from trailers for a few other Kino properties, as well as menus and chapter selection options, the main extra on the disc is a commentary by film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCoteau. The cover the film's connection to the earlier The Killer Bees, offer up biographical information on the cast and crew as well as the film's director, analyze what works for them and what doesn't in the movie and quite a bit more.
It's also worth pointing out that this release comes packaged with a slipcover.
Terror Out Of The Sky has moments of interest and the scenes where the killer beers are killer beeing are pretty fun, but the movie gets bogged down in too much drama that sinks the movie like an anchor attached to its anchor. Kino's Blu-ray looks good and sounds good and the commentary is decent but the movie itself just never catches fire the way you want it to. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.