Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

Rating: C-

Dir: Denis Sanders
Star: William Smith, Victoria Vetri, Anitra Ford, Cliff Osmond

I heard about this one maybe 20 years ago: it was one of the movies that Lino used to mention repeatedly. However, I was rather disappointed by the movie behind the myth, which doesn’t live up to the expectation inherent in the title. It’s not much of an invasion, and to be honest, they’re hardly bee girls: when I hear that, I think of sultry beauties with wings, stripes and stingers coming out of highly-threatening places. What we get here may be sultry, but in terms of apistological (is that a word?) facets, all we get is Bee-Vision, basically POV shot through a multi-faceted lens. Describing this as a “bit crap” would be rather kind, and you can see why Nicholas Meyer – later to helm two Star Trek movies and be nominated for a scriptwriting Oscar – almost disowned the finished product.

It sees special agent Neil Agar (Smith) dispatched to investigate the suspicious death of a government scientist, who turns out to have basically been shagged to death. After a lot of shenanigans, it turns out – and I trust I’m not spoiling this for anyone – to be the results of experiments by mad scientist Dr. Susan Harris (Vetri). She is mutating women in to insects, through a strange process that involves radiation and… ah, being swarmed by bees? Quite how Harris came up with that, or even what the point of this might be, are entirely ignored by the script. Truly a product of its time, which in this case would be 1973, a time when breasts were differently-shaped from now (I’m crediting better nutrition). Then, the main object of societal concern, the one thing most likely to trigger its absolute destruction, was apparently not disease, global warming or even zombies, but something much more ludicrous: women’s rights.

As such, it inevitably has dated poorly, and even the kitsch appeal on view is limited by the execution, which tends to be more of the “mind-numbingly tedious” kind, than anything of particular merit, despite the bizarre presence of naked motor-cycling. While there’s absolutely something here to offend just about any minority group, that isn’t enough to justify its existence, though both Smith and Vetri go at roles with acceptably straight faces, and can only be admired for their commitment. What this probably needs is a remake, because it’s one of those cases where special effects have now caught up with the story. Just as David Cronenberg turned mediocre B-movie The Fly into an epic of body horror, imagine what someone like Takashi Miike could do with the concept here.