Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Invasion of the Bee Girls

Why are the middle-aged men in a California town dying of heart attacks during sexual intercourse? Because the first victim worked for Brandt Industries, a local thinktank with a government contract, the Pentagon sends agent Neil Agar (William Smith) to investigate. 

Agar and the local law, Captain Peters (SWEET SUGAR’s Cliff Osmond), are flummoxed by the escalating body count, which he and Brandt scientist Julie Zorn (Victoria Vetri, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH) attribute to a race of insatiable bee women (!) led by the sublimely sexy mad scientist Susan Harris (luscious Anitra Ford, who was also in STACEY! the same year). 

Despite the title, INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS isn’t campy, though the screenplay by Nicholas Meyer (his first) has humor. One suspects Meyer, who moved on to THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION, TIME AFTER TIME, and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, and director Denis Sanders (ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS) may have been working at different levels (in fact, Meyer wanted to use a pseudonym as his screen credit). Most of the cast, particularly Ford, appear in tune with the screenplay’s tongue-in-cheek spirit and sexual politics, but the film plays the material straight more or less.

For instance, Smith, one of the screen’s great heavies (he was Falconetti on RICH MAN, POOR MAN), has occasionally convinced as a leading man, but he’s miscast here. Plodding after clues and romancing Vetri like the hero in a police procedural isn’t up Smith’s alley, and an incongruous rape scene feels wedged into the plot just to give Big Bill somebody to beat up. Sanders’ picture doesn’t really kick in until the third act, when we finally learn how Ford (then one of Bob Barker’s “beauties” on THE PRICE IS RIGHT) creates her “bee girls.” Looking unearthly in Foster Grants, Ford is a formidable and attractive foe for Smith.

1 comment:

nyrdyv said...

IBG is still one of the cult classics that is still very much underground.


Steven G. Willis