The Wasp Woman

Year Of Release: 1960
Running Time: 93 Minutes
DVD Released By: Madacy Entertainment
Directed By: Roger Corman, Jack Hill
Writing Credits: Leo Gordon, Kinta Zertuche (story)
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris, William Roerick, Michael Mark, Frank Gerstle

Tagline: "A beautiful woman by day - A lusting queen wasp by night."

Alternate Titles:
The Bee Girl (1960)
Insect Woman (1960)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Susan Cabot, who plays Janice Starlan in this film, began her career in 1947 in the film Kiss of Death as an uncredited restaurant extra. Her film career encompassed twenty films culminating with her role as The Wasp Woman. Susan was born in Boston and raised in a series of eight foster homes. She attended high school in Manhattan, where she took an interest in dramatics and joined the school dramatic club. Later, while trying to decide between a career in music or art, she illustrated children's books during the day and sang at Manhattan's Village Barn at night. Susan was married twice and had one son who suffered from dwarfism. Sadly, she was murdered on December 10, 1986, by her son who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the crime.

Cast Of Characters
Janice Starlan: The aging but still attractive head of a large cosmetics company that is having a run of bad times. She uses enzymes from a queen wasp to regain her youth but it ends up having nasty effects.

Eric Zinthrop: Old scientist who discovers the enzyme therapy that appears to be the fountain of youth. This guy has a rough life.

Arthur Cooper: Unclear what he actually does. He’s at all the meetings and he seems to be some kind of researcher but we never actually see him do anything except act all snoopy and throw his mister know-it-all attitude around. Constantly has a pipe in his mouth even though he’s not always smoking it. This guy looks like BOB from the Church of the SubGenius. You know the one.

Bill Lane: I think this guy was in the advertising department but I don’t know if it was ever actually said that he was. He and Mary are in cahoots with Arthur but neither one seems too concerned when Arthur disappears. In fact, neither one seems too awful shaken by anything.

Mary Dennison: Janice’s secretary. As previously stated, her and Bob are in cahoots. After you see them together, you’ll think they’re both freebasing valium. She’s a total busybody but mildly attractive and lives through the end of the movie.

The Plot

Janice Starlan is a cosmetics queen in her late thirties whose company is hitting hard times. When she receives a letter from Mr. Zinthrop saying that he’s discovered the fountain of youth pouring out of a queen wasp’s butt, she jumps at the chance to both save her company and to regain her lost youth. She brings Mr. Zinthrop to her company and after seeing a demonstration where he used the serum on an old guinea pig and turned it into a young one, she grants him a laboratory and unlimited funds to develop his serum. There is one condition to all this though. She insists on being his first test subject. He Tries to talk her out of it but finally agrees to her terms. The initial treatments go well, but she soon finds herself addicted to the serum, and strange things begin to happen to her.

What The Hell???
1. Just as an opening note, the whole movie has a green sepia color to it. I don’t know if this was intentional, the result of a transfer from old film stock, or the result of being a low budget Roger Corman movie. It does give the film an interesting look though.
2. At the beginning of the movie, Mr. Zinthrop is out collecting wasps for his experiments. As he’s working at a bee farm, he heads back to his outdoor lab and on the way stops to talk briefly to a young bee keeper who is handling bee hives without gloves! I’m sorry but I would NOT work around bees without gloves. So Mr. Zinthrop says to the younger man during their conversation, “If you knew what I know about wasps m'boy, you’d have no fear of them.” Can you say….foreshadowing?
3. When the bean counter shows up at the bee farm and starts complaining about Mr. Zinthrop’s expenses, the scientist shows him the physical results of his experiments. He’s discovered the fountain of youth. The bean counter fires him because he’s just not one of the team. EXCUSE ME??? This guy just shows you the goldmine of the century and you fire him because his expenses for the month had hit around a thousand bucks? Can you say…IDIOT!?!?!?
4. When Mr. Zinthrop demonstrates his serum on the aging guinea pig, you’d think that he’d end up with a young guinea pig right? WRONG! It turned into a younger, smaller, rat! And not only that, it was a white rat! It not only changed species, it changed color! What the hell is up with that? They couldn’t find a similar looking young guinea pig? I know it’s a low budget movie but come on. Janice didn’t even seem to be phased in the least that this thing had turned into a completely different animal. It was shortly thereafter that she insisted that she be the first test subject. Yeah, good thinkin’ baby.
5. After she becomes young again, Janice wants to start up a massive ad campaign to promote their new wonder product. Again…EXCUSE ME??? They want to release a product that’s barely been tested and certainly hasn’t been tested for long term effects onto an unsuspecting public. I think the FDA might want to have something to say about that.
6. One of the funnier moments in the film was when Mr. Zinthrop went into his lab and a cat he had used a concentrated form of the serum on had gone nuts. It jumped in his face and started attacking him. He fought it off valiantly and managed to kill it. The first thing that popped into my head while watching this scene was the scene in "Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy" when Chris Cooper was walking through Mrs. Herticure's house and a cat dropped on his head. He started screaming, "CAT ON MY HEAD! CAT ON MY HEAD!!!" Anyway, in a state of shock Mr. Zinthrop wanders out of the building and into the street where he promptly loses a fight with a moving vehicle for the right-of-way. It was one of those moments that either makes you say “Doh!” or “Duh!” Either way, he didn’t really have sufficient cause to be wandering around in the street like that. I mean, so a cat attacked him. You can find that happening every single day somewhere. Cats suck.
7. So Mr. Zinthrop ends up in the hospital and Janice sends out search teams to find him. Now would someone please tell me where exactly they got an 8x10 glossy of the old guy?
8. After Janice killed Arthur, he wasn’t at work the next day. No one seemed even a little concerned that he was missing. It was only at the end of the day that Bill and Mary were talking about his absence in a most casual manner. I would like to think that if I disappeared and no one heard from me all day, they’d be a little more concerned than that.
9. The security guard in the building is like totally fat. You’d think they would have been able to find someone that at least looked more like a security guard and less like a weight watchers dropout. He bites it when Janice is in one of her “moods”.
10. Janice kills Mr. Zinthrop’s Nurse right in front of him and in his shock and horror; he pretty much just has a spasm. It was quite funny.
11. Mary and Bill figure out what’s going on kinda-sorta and go to see Mr. Zinthrop. They find out his nurse has been murdered and Bill sends Mary to Janice’s office to call the police, because conveniently, the phone in Mr. Zinthrop’s room can’t dial out. Mary goes to Janice’s office and while there she’s “hysterical” and insisting she be able to call the police. Janice bitch-slaps her to calm her down. Calm her down? If she was any more calm she’d have been asleep.
12. While Mary is talking to Janice in her office, Janice changes into the Wasp creature again right in front of her. Mary takes about, oh, 10 or 15 seconds to register what happened. Either that or it took her that long to wake up. Then what’s she do? She starts screaming and running around the office trying to get away from Janice. She didn’t try very hard but I guess when you’ve been freebasing valium, it’s kinda hard to do anything.
13. Bill and Mr. Zinthrop hear Mary’s screams and run to the lab looking for her. Janice had dragged Mary to the lab where she was laying unconscious. My question is, why didn’t she just kill her outright like she did to everyone else?
14. Bill and Mr. Zinthrop get to the lab and Bill starts fighting with Janice. Mr. Zinthrop grabs a bottle of acid and all of a sudden he’s Nolan Ryan!!! He sailed that bottle of acid across the room and it busted off of Janice’s head like a 90 mph fast ball. What the hell??? Wasn’t this guy just damn near comatose in his bed? Now all of a sudden he’s throwing curveball bottles of acid?
15. I guess the strain of throwing the acid was too much for the old guy, because right after Bill pushed Janice out of the window they showed Mr. Zinthrop clutching his chest and hitting the floor. Here we go again with the incoherent character thing. First he’s Nolan Ryan and now he’s Mr. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up." I wish they’d make up their minds.

Best Quote

"I'd stay away from wasps if I were you m'self. The queen wasp is on level with a black widow spider. They're both carniverous. They paralyze their victim and then take their time devouring them alive. They kill their mates in the same way too. Strictly a one-sided romance."


- Arthur answering Janice's question about possibly using "Royal Jelly" from a queen wasp. - (Reviewer's Note: She should have listened.)

Video Clip
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The Wasp Woman
Funny how even though he's all beat up, Eric still manages to chuck a bottle of acid like a major league pitcher.

The Conclusion
This movie was classic Roger Corman. It was fun to watch and even more fun to rip on while we were watching it. The Mr. Zinthrop character seemed like it was actually several characters melted into one. His actions weren’t always consistent with a single character and the drabness of Arthur, Bill, and Mary got a little tedious after a while.

The weird thing about this film, is that there's really no bad guy. Sure Arthur can be a pain, and he's a little self righteous too, but he's only looking out for Janice. Once Janice finally becomes the wasp woman and starts killing people, she technically becomes the bad guy in the film, but then again, she's really not because what's happening to her is not in her control. The worst thing she consciously did in this movie was to become addicted to the youth serum. When she gets killed at the end, you really just feel sorry for her, and sorry that she didn't get to kill some more of these annoying people as well.

Another thing about this film and I just put my finger on it just now, is that the whole film feels like one long Twilight Zone episode. I believe that they did something similar to this movie on that show as well, but I can't remember what it was exactly.

To sum it all up though, this was a fun to watch classic that you definitely won’t regret watching, especially if you watch it at night with some friends and a big bucket of popcorn.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 3½ Bees

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