Friday, March 03, 2017

150. Invasion of the Bee Girls

150. Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)
Director: Denis Sanders
Writer: Nicholas Meyer
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In
Watch: archive.org
The State Department starts investigating the curious deaths of their scientists, deaths seemingly caused by exhaustion during sex. What the investigator finds, though, is a case of science gone mad.
State Department investigator Neil Agar arrives at a sleepy little town that houses State Department researchers doing weird experiments. One of their lead scientists was found dead in a hotel, apparently dying while having sex. Agar teams up with the scientist’s assistant/secretary/colleague who tells him the research compound is like a giant swingers’ club: everybody’s hooking up with everybody.

Meanwhile, more men die while having sex. It’s an epidemic sweeping the town. Naturally, this allows the movie a variety of brief nude scenes, each one closing with a rising buzzing sound.

To try to prevent further deaths, Agar, the Sheriff, and a representative from the lab hold a town hall and suggest that there may be a new form of VD going around so, until things are sorted out, everyone should practice abstinence. The head of the lab’s maintenance union stands up and objects loudly.

And I think I’ll stop there because this is where I stopped while watching the movie. I assumed this was supposed to be a joke, that on some, if not every, level, the movie is not serious. Is the whole thing supposed to be a camp comedy with lots of nudity? Are the characters supposed to be funny? Are we supposed to find the situations comedic? Initially it felt like the tone was aiming for titties and blown raspberries, but then the nudity seemed to fall away instead of it being like a boob comedy where everything inevitably leads to toplessness. The characters have ridiculous conversations, but they don’t quite rise to the level of parody or farce. Then there were the actual events of the plot, and that’s where I abandoned the idea that this movie’s a comedy.

Agar’s assistant is assaulted and nearly raped by a group of men.

This movie, about women being genetically mixed with bees and then killing men by having sex with them is 100% earnest. They’re making a serious sci-fi thriller here. When I realized that, any sense of fun I was reading from the movie disappeared.

I’d go through the rest of the plot, but there really isn’t one. One of the scientists is the “queen bee,” as it were, and is kidnapping the wives of the victims to put them in her transformation apparatus to turn them into her bee slaves. The transformation sequence is just another excuse for nudity, and excuses for nudity are things you’d think a movie about people dying while having sex wouldn’t need, but it’s just long and boring. There are a few good shots—the victim covered in bees, getting covered in wax—and they’re good because they are honestly strange and unnerving. The rest though, including the orgasmic moaning and self-caressing all the bee girls engage in after the process is complete, is the definition of tedium.

Somehow Agar figures it out. Literally. “Somehow.” Nothing in this movie moves from point A to B. How he comes to any of his conclusions or why the mystery leads him where it does is never explained. At the last minute, he breaks into the scientist’s lab to rescue the assistant. He shoots the big machine, grabs her, and all the bee girls burn to death. Cut to her house where, apropos of nothing, she’s chattering away like she never did in the movie and then the couple go to the bedroom to screw while bees visit the flowers outside. I’d say, “Implying that she’s a bee girl as well,” but this film implies nothing. It has no sense, no subtext, and no ability to present things subtly. THE END.

One of my notes for this is literally, “What the fuck is this movie?” It’s unintentionally funny until the rape scene which runs too long and is allowed to proceed just a bit too far before the hero arrives to save the day. And maybe that sums up the movie: just a little off and wrong in every way.

And that’s really disappointing because this could have been a lot of fun. It’s a really stupid idea and should have been pursued with campy glee. You might have been able to rework it as a sort-of sequel to The Wasp Woman which would have given just a bit more punch. And I could write about the weird gender politics of the movie which ultimately posits that when women want to have sex, something is very wrong and it could kill you.

I’ve thought about suggesting this movie to We Hate Movies for their “Side Order of Sleaze,” but it doesn’t even rise up to that level. This is actually supposed to be kind of sleazy—people are dying from fucking left and right—and it has long stretches with no nudity whatsoever. That’s the only reason you make a movie with this premise in 1973. I’m not looking for that, but I’d at least like to see one kind of joy pursued in the movie. Instead, it’s serious. . . about bee women fucking people to death.

This is one I’d suggest giving a pass. It’s in the public domain and there’s a widescreen, uncut version on archive.org here. I would have uploaded an MPEG from my DVD, but Mill Creek burned their logo into it, but it’s just as well.

No comments: