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Key DVD presents
Killer Buzz (2002)

"They're hiding something. I can feel it."
- Ann (Gabrielle Anwar)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 05, 2004

Stars: Gabrielle Anwar, Rutger Hauer, Craig Sheffer
Other Stars: Mark Adair-Rios, Duncan Regehr, Jason Brooks, David Naughton, Adam Wylie
Director: Jeff Hare

MPAA Rating: R for violence
Run Time: 01h:39m:57s
Release Date: September 09, 2003
UPC: 024543117216
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+B-B- D-

DVD Review

Decent killer bee flicks are few and far between, and while Killer Buzz (which was also known briefly as Flying Virus) is not of the greats, it is a tolerable piece of mindless B-movie pap. Writer/director Jeff Hare loaded his film with a hive full of recognizable names and faces (Gabrielle Anwar, Craig Sheffer, David Naughton, Rutger Hauer), but this one never fully lives up to its potential, despite it's genre-friendly casting.

Hard-nosed television news reporter Ann (Anwar), on assignment in the rainforest, inadvertently stumbles upon some kind of top-secret military operation involving a batch of genetically altered bees that really, really love to kill. It seems that a murderous scientist named Ezekiel (Rutger Hauer) is behind the so-called "Vitamin B Project", and he is leading a covert operation to wipe out the indigenous rainforest folks with his crazy bees, all for the sake of big business. When a crate full of the angry stingers are illegally brought on board a commercial flight bound for New York, and accidently released, the plane is earmarked for destruction rather than risk further spread of the deadly insects. That is, unless Ann and her trusty camera man Raka (Mark Adair-Rios) can come up with a serum in time.

Bees on a plane is a good premise, but Hare takes an interminable amount of time to get to it, and instead chooses to kill a lot of runtime with scene after scene of Ezekial's troops firebombing assorted tribal villages. I appreciate a good explosion as much as the next guy, but Hare's budget restrictions apparently required him to reuse the same footage over and over, sometimes from different angles. It's a glaring and obvious bit of cost-cutting, and at one point it became a game to count the reused clips. There is one particular native character who does a perfectly executed forward somersault after an explosion, and we get to see him a handful of times, dying again and again with the skill of a circus performer. Similarly, the extended shootouts between the military and the villagers go on way too long, and the bloodless violence is nonsensically distracting. When a barechested man gets hit with a volley of automatic weapon fire, it seems like we ought to see at least a drop of blood—but not here.

Reused footage aside, Killer Buzz has the hit-or-miss watchability of a made-for-cable movie. Seeing familiar faces like Craig (Nightbreed) Sheffer, here playing Anwar's estranged husband and our ersatz hero, and perennial bad guy Rutger Hauer as a demented bee wrangler, is enjoyable, while watching David Naughton's wide-eyed and ham-fisted portrayal of a troublesome doctor is unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny. The CG bee effects are surprisingly good for a low-budget genre title, including a terrific bees-attacking-a-panther sequence that gave me false hope for what might still come. But once the bees got loose, things fell apart quickly, with a crazy climax involving characters dangling out of a moving airplane and the ol' standby of a passenger enlisted to take over when the pilot becomes incapacitated.

To bee, or not to bee. That is the question, and this isn't necessarily the answer.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, Killer Buzz is bright, if nothing else. Colors are well-saturated, and fleshtones generally look pretty natural. Image detail is iffy from scene to scene, with some sequences looking crisper and more defined than others. In addition to some pesky shimmer, the print is also plagued with quite a bit of specking, too.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 surround track offered here is better than most low-budget titles of this caliber, and if it had been slightly more aggressive it might have downright fun. C'mon, this is bees on plane—I want manic buzzing all around me. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at the bottom end offered up by the mix; it didn't necessarily knock pictures off the wall, but it did provide more rumble than I was expecting. Dialogue is always clearly understandable, with no trace of distortion or hiss. Rears kick in occasionally, adding some marginal depth to the presentation.

A Spanish. 2.0 surround track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Not much here, as the only extra is a trailer for the feature. The disc is cut into 24 chapters.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A few of the valuable lessons I learned while watching this:
-if you fly coach, killer bees will attack you, but they can't quite figure out how to get into first class
-examine all jelly beans before eating
-if an explosion occurs behind you, you must somersault forward
-airliners can potentially land ANYWHERE


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