Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#512. The Wasp Woman (1959)

Directed By: Roger Corman

Starring: Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris

Tag line: "A beautiful woman by day - a lusting queen wasp by night"

Trivia:  This was Susan Cabot's final movie

The Wasp Woman is an early entry in the filmography of B-movie guru, Roger Corman, who both produced and directed this low-budget sci-fi tale about an elixir that turns normal human beings into bloodthirsty insects. 

Starlin Enterprises, a Manhattan-based company specializing in beauty products, has seen its sales plummet in recent months, primarily because its owner, Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot), is herself looking much older these days, leading the public to no longer trust her merchandise. In desperation, Janice meets with Dr Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark), a scientist claiming to have developed a serum, made entirely of royal jelly extracted from wasps, that will reverse the aging process. Amazed by his results, Janice agrees to fund Dr. Zinthrop's research in exchange for sole ownership of his serum. What's more, Janice volunteers to be his first human “guinea pig” and before long, she's looking 20 years younger. Her employees are stunned by Janice's youthful appearance, but the serum does have one unfortunate side effect: it turns Janice into a killer wasp! 

Even at a mere 72 minutes, The Wasp Woman has some fat that needs trimming. The first ten minutes are dedicated to Dr. Zinthrop collecting specimens for his research, and ultimately being fired by his employer for conducting his experiments on company time. This entire sequence could easily have been cut in half and been just as effective. Then it's off to Starlin Enterprises, where Janice is holding a board meeting to talk over the falling sales. Blah...Blah...Blah. These opening moments are bland, and not even Dr. Zinthrop's arrival at Starlin can liven things up. Sure, the scene where he “proves” the potency of his concoction showed promise, but soon after, we join three of Janice's most trusted employees: Bill (Anthony Eisley), Mary (Barboura Morris) and Arthur (William Roerick) over lunch as they discuss whether or not Zinthrop is a con man. This happens a few times throughout The Wasp Woman; something interesting happens (like when Zinthrop is attacked by the cat he's been using as a test subject), then the action shifts to a couple of characters having a conversation, and what they're talking about is usually dull with a capital “D”. 

The movie does pick up steam when Janice finally changes into a wasp, but by that time, I was already out of the story. The Wasp Woman may be the longest 72-minute film I've ever had to sit through.


Kevin Bachelder said...

I've had this one on my "to be watched" list for a while. Too bad it doesn't sound like it's worth it. :(

DVD Infatuation said...

Kevin: Thanks for the comment!

The movie definitely does pick up once Janice begins "transforming" into a wasp. But as I said above, far too much time passes with very little happening (which wouldn't be bad if the dialogue weren't so damn DULL most of the time).

Als0 (and I'm not saying this is a reason to sit through the movie), there's a cameo appearance by Corman himself, who plays a doctor, and seeing a young Roger was pretty cool.

Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to my next appearance on the Saturday B-Movie Reel Podcast!