Part of Big Awful Friday is about appreciating movies that stretch thetraditional boundaries of entertainment. A much larger part of it isabout pointing and laughing at cinematic garbage, but in the spirit ofthat smaller, not-just-made-up part, we should stretch ourselves asviewers, too.
Thus, in my greatest challenge to date, I will now attempt to discuss1973's Invasion of the Bee Girls without making a single"B-movie" joke.
When the men of a small research town start dropping dead of sexualexhaustion, federal investigator William Smith is brought in to rootout the cause. With the help of lab assistant Victoria Vetri, theyfind themselves in the midst of a bee-related murder spree.
At first Invasion of the Bee Girls tries to trick you intothinking it's a typically incompetent bad movie. Director DenisSanders sneakily employs flat acting, artless cuts, and a soundtrackthat sounds like the score to 2001 as sung by people saying"Woo woo woo" to create the illusion we've set full sail for failure.
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But then a scientist announces at a town meeting that, until theyfigure out what's happening, the whole town should practice sexualabstinence — and the town nearly riots. Intentionally funny instead ofthe other kind, it's a clear sign of actual skill.
That scene's not alone. Even better is when Smith starts investigatingthe role of insects in the slayings for no reason whatsoever.Seriously, all someone says is, "We're dropping like flies," andsuddenly Smith turns into Sherlock Buzz. Or when the induction of anew member causes the rest of the hive-women to bounce around withtheir most un-beelike chests exposed. I'm no bee-study-guy, but I oncehad a hive cluster in a tree in my front yard, and I don't rememberseeing any behavior like that (though to be fair, I was running awaytoo fast to see much of anything).
Yet Bee Girls offers more than just its salacious premise andswarms of topless women. For all the time it spends wallowing inexploity goodness, it spends an equal amount doggedly trying to workout the science behind all that sexing.
You don't see this much thoughtfulness put into a lot of big-budgetmovies. Is its science good? Ha! Ha ha. By which I mean it's amovie about women crossbreeding with bees. It's a welcome sign ofdedication, though, an effort that turns Bee Girls' story intoan unexpected asset.