Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973): Beware of the Sexy Feminists!

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)
dir: Denis Sanders
wr: Nicholas Meyer

It's well known that men had a problem with feminism through the 70s, into the 80s and beyond. In cinematic representations, feminists were frequently portrayed as purposeless women who were hellbent on destroying families and killing men in order to achieve their silly little quest for equality...that is, if equality was ever mentioned, as most men couldn't wrap their heads around that.

Invasion of the Bee Girls is one of the primary movies about feminism, especially in terms of the sexual revolution. But, strangely, Bee Girls ends up almost being a meta version of an ultra-feminist screed.

The concept of Invasion of the Bee Girls is exploitatively simplistic. Men are being found dead from congestive heart failure due to sexual exhaustion. Through investigation, a federal investigator discovers that the scientists at the nearby research facility are sexual freaks, and that one woman has decided to merge women with bees through radiation for...whatever reason.

What Denis Sanders and Nicholas Meyer are hinting at, on the surface, is that women are the seducers, and that they're out to destroy men. The bee girls, who always wear Jackie O glasses to hide their compound eyes, are the new sexually free women who are perfectly OK with fucking men, and are actually sexually aggressors. The conversion process of the bee girls involves a lesbionic ritual of rampant nudity, breast rubbing, a white frosting covering and bees. They're practically hinting that sexually free women who want to fuck men are lesbians who just are out to kill men. The end of the movie is a big destruction of the bee girl transformation plant, killing all of the bee girls including the lead scientist bee girl. The federal investigator then takes his girlfriend, ignores everything she says, and flings her on the bed as a sex object.

As a movie from 1973, Invasion of the Bee Girls actually may be espousing some radical tenements. One of the scientists has a secret sex room behind his office that has doves or lovebirds (who has birds in their sex room?!), leather accouterments, a fish tank and a bed. That scientist is also gay, and has a secret lover. All of the other scientists are having litanies of after-hours affairs with anything that moves, and lying to their spouses about where they are.

Of course, it takes two to tango. But, finally, the women are starting to kill the men through sexual exhaustion. A lot of the women are scorned lovers or women who have otherwise been hurt. The men, actually, do a lot of hurting by constantly lying to women, treating them like objects, loudly pronouncing some as "iceburgs" and crowing about their sexual conquests. Not to mention the mid-movie sexual assault, that's about to lead to gang rape, in order for the men to take their revenge on an innocent woman.

Is Invasion of the Bee Girls truly an anti-feminist screed, if it has all of these terrible male behaviors which are frequently used as a reason for women to become feminists? Is it actually saying that raping women is a reason to become a feminist, or that it is a legitimate form of keeping women in line? Is Invasion of the Bee Girls presenting the double standard of freaky-deaky scientists to the sexy-wanting bee girls as a way of exposing the double standard in the hope that somebody will read the subtext? Or, is it completely condemning the feminists, especially given its celebration of the eradication of sexually forward women?

This is written by Nicholas Meyer, who, at the time, wanted his name taken off the film for currently unknown reasons (Meyer, write me!). Sci-fi fans will know Meyer from the films Time After Time, Star Trek II, IV, and VI, and The Day After. Was Meyer originally sending up the male-dominated society of double standards and almost making the men the villains? It's still in the movie a bit. Or, was Meyer actually damning the women, but the filmmakers decided to also damn the men as well?

While Invasion of the Bee Girls is hard to read from 41 years later, it doesn't make it any less fun At 85 minutes, Sanders keeps Bee Girls crackling, with new bizarre events happening with regularity. It's a zippy, hilarious almost-send-up of the sexploitation genre that had been bubbling at the time. Hell, even the theme is cracked and seems to be the launching pad for the theme of The Sinful Dwarf. If you want something that kind of makes you wonder about the politics behind the camera because the politics in front are so cracked, and also want a bit of sexy girls on top of it, Invasion of the Bee Girls may be straight up your alley.

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