Review Date: 2/12/18
Cast: William Smith, Anitra Ford, Victoria Vetri, Cliff Osmond
More sleaze from the seventies. Men are showing up dead in a small California town due to apparent sexual exhaustion. Among them is a scientist from a government research facility, and special agent Neil Agar (William Smith) is assigned to investigate. What he discovers is a town full of sexual deviance, and the widows of the deceased men have been mutated into unstoppable sexual predators that exhibit bee-like traits. Thankfully, a lucky shot from his handgun manages to destroy the entire lab where Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford) is conducting her fiendish experiments.
It's essentially a softcore sex romp with a science fiction horror spin. It's utterly dreadful to watch and the pacing is excruciatingly slow, but what's interesting to me is how serious the presentation is. The treatment is thoughtful and mature, the dialog is smart, the characters are well developed, and the story makes a valiant attempt to stay grounded in reality. The tone is gritty, nasty, and adult-oriented, but its attitudes towards sex, homosexuality, S&M, and swinging culture are surprisingly frank and non-judgmental. This was back when sex and nudity were considered progressive cinema, and these filmmakers were daring and serious-minded. However, there's definitely a strong undercurrent of misogyny that runs throughout the picture, and the story feels like a cautionary tale born of the male hysteria that followed in the wake of Women's Lib and the Sexual Revolution. The moral of the story seems pretty clear: be afraid of strong and sexually dominating women.
The acting is quite good for the genre, and Victoria Vetri gives an eye-opening performance as a sexy scientist who assists Agar's investigation. She's also subjected to a nasty rape scene that's difficult to watch. The bee girls themselves are delightfully campy embodiments of pure lust, with voluminous hair and creepy compound eyes. Anitra Ford and her lovely lab assistants strut around in short and sexy unbuttoned lab coats, while hiding their hideous eyes behind enormous sunglasses. If you can get past the film's unpleasantness and the painfully long sex scenes, it's a fascinating piece of cinematic and cultural history from a bygone era.