Notorious biker badass William “Big Bill” Smith plays Neil Agar, a security agent working for the State Department sent to investigate the death of a scientist who was working at the Brandt Research facility. While Agar is busy flirting with laboratory librarian, Julie Zorn (1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Victoria Vetri), and searching ineffectually for clues, more researchers (who we learn enjoy frequent sexual escapades inside their elite community) turn up dead. Autopsy results indicate that each of the men died from sexual exhaustion. Meanwhile, the women of Brandt Research facility are wearing sunglasses indoors and are generally more horny than usual. Agar begins to suspect there’s a link between the bodies and the bee research being conducted by the gorgeous entomologist, Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford, a former member of Barker’s Beauties on “The Price is Right”).
Invasion of the Bee Girls’ main focus is not quite in line with the title of the series under which it was presented. Terror is the last thing on its mind. Instead, it seeks to titillate by teasing the audience with beautiful women for the first half and then keeping them in constant, clothes-less rotation for the second. Scenes of bee women attacking men during coitus consist of buzzing sounds, some rolling around, black eyes and then sudden death. On a procedural level, the audience is way ahead of Agar at all times, his style of investigation is mostly wandering around making completely unexplained (and inexplicably correct) leaps in logic and going about his day with a complete lack of charisma that could be mistaken as him being “cool”. Basically he’s the David Caruso of sexploitation.
The sci-fi elements of Invasion of the Bee Girls are just as perplexing. Once it’s discovered that Dr. Harris’ experiments have given local women queen bee levels of sex drive, the audience is treated to the process. It essentially involves encasing the woman in a plaster of Paris type substance, putting her in a room full of radioactive bees where she is completed covered in them, bringing her back out for some more radiation blasts, and then removing the cocoon to reveal a changed woman- she now has the evil black eyes and a new hairdo. If this is the process by which women are converted, one wonders how Dr. Harris first stumbled upon the radioactive bee cocoon method in the first place. It’s never quite clearly explained what her motivation or process was. Fortunately, the audience is treated to a documentary reel about queen bees that succinctly explains the effects of the transformation on the women but it’s later revealed that the radiation leaves them barren. They are doomed to forever attempt, but fail at, mating.
If Invasion of the Bee Girls has anything going for it (as it’s already fallen short on horror, thriller, and science fiction levels) it’s a healthy backbone of knowing kitsch. While William Smith wanders in and out of scenes with his glazed-over stare conducting something that would be very loosely be described as “investigating”, we are treated to a steady rotation of beautiful women in the most ’70s of scant attire. Even the ladies lab coats are sexy, short on the bottom and wide open on the top for maximum cleavage exposure. The expectation of any sort of intelligent plotting or scripting is entirely that of the audiences, the film never makes such promises and never betrays its main objective in being a goofy, sexy exploitation film. For that, it cannot really be faulted.
Dialog quality is best defined as “sufficient” with little attempt made to do anything other than provide the actors with things to say between stages of undress. One particular scene, though, almost single-handedly saves the movie from itself. When the leaders of the town in which the Brandt Research facility is located call a town meeting, they propose total sexual abstinence for all residents. This is met with backlash filled with the film’s best and most quotable lines. It is a hilarious and standout scene.
We forgive the film its lapses in logic because we recognize it for what it is- it’s a sexploitation film that throws sci-fi and horror tropes around without any regard for authenticity until something sticks. So when the culmination of all the “terror” is a finale that makes as little sense as the setup, it’s unsurprising and, ultimately, quite amusing. For all its shortcomings, it’s hard not to have fun with a movie like Invasion of the Bee Girls (or Graveyard Girls as our print was even more inappropriately titled), a film so inept at its eagerness to please and titillate it comes full circle back into entertaining territory. The only real complaint about the presentation I saw was it didn’t really fit under the Terror Tuesday banner. It should have been temporarily renamed Terror Boobsday.
Because there’s a certain expectation of the kinds of films programmed at Terror Tuesday, there was a clear divide amongst the audience. Invasion of the Bee Girl most definitely belongs more in the Alamo Drafthouse’s other signature series, Weird Wednesday and, as it turns out, the Terror Tuesday crowd doesn’t crossover in all cases. So while the vast majority of people did enjoy the film, fits of laughter and applause were plentiful and there was a generally jovial atmosphere, there were a few pockets of attendees that appeared bored by the film. In fact, one gentleman was apparently so put off he decided he would play with his phone rather than watch the movie. Fortunately, the Alamo Drafthouse stuck to its no cellphones, no talking policy and, as they advertise they will, kicked his ass out.