Invasion Of The Bee Girls

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I know that at one point or another we all wonder what the first film that Nicholas Meyer ever wrote was. The answer is the sexploitation science fiction classic Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973). Even though Meyer gets sole credit for the screenplay substantial re-writes were done by Sylvia Schneble to help increase the marketability of the film. Director Denis Sanders’ Invasion Of The Bee Girls is a sleazy classic that plays with the formula of atomic mutation that were popular in B-movies of the fifties.

Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford) has been transforming the young women of a rural northern California town into Bee Girls who kill their partners during intercourse. To investigate these murders, which all appear connected to a government research facility, agent Neil Agar (William Smith) is dispatched. Agar quickly forms an attachment to Dr. Julie Zorn (Victoria Vetri) and enlists her in his fight to stop the lethal Bee Girls.

Dr. Harris’ motives are never explained in the film though circumstances imply that she set out to create an all female “bee colony” based on the gender supremacy of the female or “queen bee”. So the paranoia regarding atomic power that motivated the mutant movies of the fifties is exchanged for the fear of the women’s liberation movement. As is typical of many sexploitation films of the early seventies the women’s liberation movement is equated with homosexuality. In the scene where Dr. Harris and her Bee Girls mutate an inductee all sorts of male propagated sapphic signifiers unfurl, culminating with group masturbation.

The sexy coolness of Anitra Ford is countered by the protagonist William Smith. One of the most versatile character actors to ever appear in B-movies, Smith brings a paternal charm to his character that balances his secret agent antics. The promiscuity, queerness and her physical mutations all brandish Ford’s character Dr. Harris as the clear villain; but our hero never actually comes into direct physical conflict with her. As soon as he has deduced her schemes he barges into her lab, grabs Dr. Zorn, shoots the control consul and leaves the Bee Girls to suffer a radioactive meltdown. During all of this Dr. Harris looks on helplessly, almost resigned to her fate as if it were better to die with her hive than to go on living in Neil Agar’s world.

Good exploitation films like Invasion Of The Bee Girls do something unexpected or subvert a generic trope in some way while still offering the viewer plenty of cheap thrills and sleazy diversions. These are flawed films even when entertaining or interesting. It might just be worth while to watch Invasion Of The Bee Girls just for Anitra Ford’s awesome outfits.