Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)
Now here’s some good ol’ fashion American exploitation. They don’t make sleaze like this anymore. The premise of the movie is that queen bee babes, created through the magic powers of radiation, are going around screwing men to death for reasons that aren’t really important. This concept allows for copious amounts of female nudity, which the movie indulges it at every opportunity. When the bee girls aren’t stripping naked and offing/boinking some random old guy, they’re parading around in their secret laboratory, covering new recruits (who are naked, naturally) in a white goop, pushing them into a room full of bees, and there’s also a jungle gym and a disco ball involved. Did I mention the scientists are wearing short lab coats and nothing else? Or that they get their casual lesbian on while they watch?
William Smith, mainstay of the ‘70s drive-in circuit, plays the hardboiled hero, who shoots, fights, drinks, and is just generally a swaggering all-American ‘70s badass. The only reason he isn’t banging every one of the girls that come his way is because that would have killed him. (And also would have turned the movie into a porno.) Victoria Vetri plays the scientist co-star. Ms. Vetri, especially her fur-bikini-clad turn in “When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth,” had a, ahem, profound effect on me during my early teen days. She’s rather delightful here, managing to be quite cute when she isn’t smoking hot.
Beyond the general premise of ladies fucking guys to death, the movie piles on the casual misogyny, what with the attempted rape scene, the finale where our hero kills a bunch of half-naked women (With a gun for extra Freudian points), or the epilogue where he does everything but directly stick his dick in her mouth to get a woman to shut up. Did I mention that not a single actress in this movie has anything smaller then a C-cup? (Thanks IMDb!) Or that there’s a scene of a naked lady riding a motorcycle for no particular reason? Or the wacky main musical theme featuring a la-la-la-ing chorus? Or that this was Nicholas Meyer’s, the guy who made two of the best “Star Trek” movies ever, first writing credit? Or how about the end titles running over footage of bees while “Also Sprach Zarathus” plays, because why the hell not? This review probably made me sound like a total pervert but, it’s the movie, I swear. Unapologetic sleaze like this has adverse effects on my brain. (7/10)
Gary Sherman is an underrated horror auteur, the guy behind cult fave “Death Line” and the excellent unconventional zombie picture “Dead and Buried.” Much like “Robocop 3” ended Fred Dekker’s promising career prematurely, “Poltergeist III” seems to have offed Sherman before he had a chance to build a real reputation among fans. However, before the aftermath of that film hit hard, he managed to get this little movie out.
“Lisa” is more of a thriller or even a character study, before going much darker in its last act. Lisa is fourteen, has a really close relationship with her single mom, and is eager to start dating. Mom has put the kebash on that until Lisa’s sixteen. But the girl and her best friend still like to play a game were they get a random cute guy’s license plate number, finagle his phone number and information out of the local police, and call him up, talking cute with him. There’s also a serial killer around town, a guy who follows single women back to their apartment, leaves threatening messages on their tape-deck answering machine (That dates the movie pretty effectively to the late eighties.), before strangling them to death. Naturally little Lisa and strangling Rick bump into each other and begin a phone courtship, both unaware of who they really are. Shit gets real before the movie’s over. Lisa and her mom have a realistic relationship. She's pushing against the rules, like any teenager would, and her young mom is uncertain and nervous about romance herself. The movie ends up being about a teenage girl playing pretend in the grown-up world, but unprepared for the nasty circumstances. (I guess that makes the movie a metaphor for teen pregnancy, maybe?) Stacy Kenan (otherwise known as the daughter from “My Two Dads”) is really quite good while her mom, played by Cheryl Ladd, has an equally strong screen presence.
The movie’s horror roots really begin to show at the end, where the situation builds to an intense, bloody finale. I’m not real crazy about the guitar screeching score, even if it does lead to an excellent jump-scare. I’ll fully admit that “Lisa’ sucked me in totally. It’s a strong character-oriented thriller. I’m seriously considering adding Sherman to my Director’s Report Card project now. (8/10)
Gory, greasy, and unpleasant. However, the movie has moments of sporadic intensity. Sean Astin plays nicely against type as the main villain of the piece. He hams it up to sleazy highs. Unlike “Hostel,” a movie it superficially resembles, the characters are actually likable and are developed beyond their desire to bone and get high. (Though there’s still some of that.) Unlike most DTV torture horror films, there does seem to be some reason behind the mayhem and nastiness. Considering the low expectations I have going into anything from “AfterDark Films,” all of this is actual something resembling praise. (6/10)