|Invasion of the Bee Girls
1973 - R - 85 Mins.
|Director: Denis Sanders
|Producer: Nicole Scott
|Written By: Nicholas Meyer and Sylvia Schneble
|Starring: William Smith, Anitra Ford, Victoria Vetri, Cliff Osmond, Wright King
|Review by: Jennie Kermode
|Official Site: n/a
A classic example of the crossover genre which thrived briefly in the 'sixties and 'seventies, this enthusiastic mixture of invasion horror and badly shot soft porn focuses on a small American town whose menfolk are mysteriously dying, apparently during the act of coitus. From the outset, this presents us with two mysteries: why are the deaths occuring, and who would want to have sex with these men anyway? To be fair, the bad lighting and orangey colouration in this film don't flatter anyone, even the genre's better-known actresses; in places the lighting is bad enough to create an extra layer of mystery, as it's hard to see what the characters are doing. Nevertheless, this is a B-movie with a certain charm, pompous enough to be amusing even in its less salubrious moments.
The film's central mystery doesn't remain such for long, as viewers are allowed to see rather more than they might want to be of what's going on. Gratuitous nudity mingled with twee landscape photography evokes Russ Meyer whilst conveying none of his artistic confidence. Enthusiastic women lead older, uglier men into compromising situations; a buzzing sound is then heard, and the men die. Why? Because these women have been turned into half-bee creatures (sadly, 'Monty Python's' Eric does not make an appearance); naturally, over-ambitious scientists are to blame. Sent to investigate is the portentously-named Federal Agent Agar. We can tell he's the hero because he has a manly speech impediment and he hits people at every opportunity. Naturally, the risk of death is insufficient to keep him from looking for some action, and he's able to do it heroically when he has the opportunity to save shy secretary Julie from rape in a scene which would say disturbing things about the intended audience if one were remotely able to take it seriously.
With a charismatically awful performance from Anitra Ford as the queen bee of the research institute, 'Invasion of the Bee Girls' goes all out for the 'seventies science fiction *look.* Otherwise naked women wrapped in white labcoats contrast with those in daywear clearly made out of curtains. Scientific buildings are ultra-modern and desperately dated. The great machine which Ford's character keeps in her secret laboratory is a fantastic piece of pointless futuristic sculpture, as is the console which controls it, none of this equipment making any sense at all. Sets shake and redubbed sound slips out of sync. Astoundingly silly scenes involving implied lesbianism and wallpaper paste sit alongside forty mile an hour car chases and macho cop-talk. And, of course, there's no actual invasion at all, as all the transformed women live in the town to begin with.
'Invasion of the Bee Girls' is one of those curious little movies which seeks to condemn the permissiveness of modern society whilst revelling in it; without taboos, its sex appeal disappears. Similarly, it skirts around issues relating to cults and Communism, taking advantage of cultural paranoia without openly addressing anything. Cheerfully shallow and meaningless, it's just the thing to put on after coming home from the pub. Just don't expect too much if you watch it sober.