The Wasp Woman
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|The Wasp Woman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Screenplay by||Leo Gordon|
|Story by||Kinta Zertuche|
|Music by||Fred Katz|
|Edited by||Carlo Lodato|
Allied Artists Pictures Corporation
The Wasp Woman (a.k.a. The Bee Girl and Insect Woman) is a 1959, independently made, American black-and-white science fiction-horror film, produced and directed by Roger Corman, that stars Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Michael Mark, and Barboura Morris. The film was originally released by Filmgroup as a double feature with Beast from Haunted Cave. To pad out the film's running time when it was released to television two years later, a new prologue was added by director Jack Hill.
In Hill's prologue, a scientist, Dr. Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark), is fired from his job at a honey farm for experimenting with wasps.
The founder and owner of a large cosmetics company, Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot), is disturbed when her firm's sales begin to drop after it becomes apparent to her customer base that she is aging. Zinthrop has been able to extract enzymes from the royal jelly of the queen wasp that can reverse the aging process. Janice agrees to fund further research, at great cost, provided she can serve as his human subject. Displeased with the slowness of the results, she breaks into the scientist's laboratory after hours and injects herself with extra doses of the formula. Zinthrop becomes aware that some of the test creatures are becoming violent and goes to warn Janice, but before he can reach anyone, he gets into a car accident. He is thus temporarily missing and Janice goes through great trouble to find him, eventually taking over his care.
Janice continues her clandestine use of the serum and sheds 20 years in a single weekend, but soon discovers that she is periodically transformed into a murderous, wasp-like creature. Eventually, Zinthrop throws a jar of carbolic acid at her face, and another character uses a chair to push her out of a window, killing her.
- Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin
- Fred Eisley as Bill Lane
- Barboura Morris as Mary Dennison
- William Roerick as Arthur Cooper
- Michael Mark as Dr. Eric Zinthrop
- Frank Gerstle as Les Hellman
- Bruno VeSota as Night Watchman
- Roy Gordon as Paul Thompson
- Carolyn Hughes as Jean Carson
- Lynn Cartwright as Maureen Reardon
- Frank Wolff as Delivery Man
- Lani Mars as Secretary
- Philip Barry as Delivery Man
- Roger Corman as Hospital Doctor (uncredited)
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The Wasp Woman has the head and hands of a wasp but the body of a woman—exactly the opposite of the creature shown on the film's theatrical release poster (which does not appear in the film).
The film was made for an estimate budget of $50,000.
According to Tim Dirks, The Wasp Woman was one of a wave of "cheap teen movies" released for the drive-in market. They consisted of "exploitative, cheap fare created especially for them [teens] in a newly-established teen/drive-in genre".
The film was re-released as part of the "100th Anniversary of Monster Movies" in March 2010.
The Wasp Woman's musical score, written by Fred Katz, was originally composed for the film A Bucket of Blood. According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, he sold the same score as if it were new music. The score was used in a total of seven films, including The Little Shop of Horrors and Creature from the Haunted Sea.
The Wasp Woman received a mixed-to-negative reception from critics upon its release. The film currently holds a 45% "Rotten" rating at the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 10 based on 11 reviews.
Variety declared, "Film has interesting points and looks polished but it's pretty slow and not very frightening". Charles Stinson of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Leo Gordon's script is smoothly urbane with nice surprising little touches of humor here and there. Slim, intense, brunet Susan Cabot, who always impresses, does excellently nuanced work as the neurotic lady with the worries and the wasps". The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "The earlier, more realistic scenes of this modest shocker, which is slow to get going, are pretty unlikely, while the later bouts of fantasy are ludicrous rather than terrifying. Routine stuff, in fact, for determined enthusiasts only". Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film a mostly positive 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. TV Guide gave the film a negative review, awarding it a score of 1 out of 4, and calling the film "laughable". Allmovie gave a negative review, criticizing the film's "ludicrous" monster costume, special effects, and low budget.
On April 6, 2008, Cinematic Titanic did a live riff on the film to a theater audience. It was released on DVD on August 7, 2008. In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Night of the Were-Mole", Muriel can be seen watching The Wasp Woman, which she describes as "her favorite show".
- The Fly (1958 film)
- The Wolf Man (1941 film)
- List of American films of 1959
- List of films in the public domain in the United States
- December 24, 1959 issue of The Plain Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Page 37
- Alan Frank, The Films of Alan Frank: Shooting My Way Out of Trouble, Bath Press, 1998 p 65
- Waddell, Calum (2009). Jack Hill: The Exploitation and Blaxploitation Master, Film by Film. McFarland & Company. p. 11. ISBN 978-0786436095.
- Hartl, John (June 20, 1996). "Not Yet Over The Hill -- Director of Campy 'Sisters' in Comeback". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- Dirks,Tim. "Citing Website" The History of Film - The 1950s: The Cold War and Post-Classical Era, The Era of Epic Films, and the Threat of Television, Part 1. Accessed March 16, 2015,http://www.filmsite.org/50sintro.html
- Monster Movies Celebrate 100th Anniversary With Marathon Webcast
- Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers As Distributors. McFarland & Company. p. 40. ISBN 0-89950-628-3.
- "The Wasp Woman (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- "Film Reviews: The Wasp Woman". Variety. March 23, 1960. 6.
- Stinson, Charles (March 18, 1960). "'Wasp Woman' Fair Science Fiction Effort". Los Angeles Times. Part III, p. 8.
- "The Wasp Woman". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 27 (314): 41. March 1960.
- Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
- "The Wasp Woman Review". TV Guide. TV Guide.com. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- "The Wasp Woman (1959) - Roger Corman | Review". Allmovie. AllMovie.com. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Joel Hodgson’s CINEMATIC TITANIC Sets Sail Live And One Of Our Spies Was There! - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news
- "Night of the Were-Mole" Courage the Cowardly Dog Dir. John R. Dilworth, Stretch Films, 1999.
- "Cinema Insomnia". Cinema Insomnia. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- "Wasp Woman DVD". Apprehensive Films. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- Time Capsule: Reviews of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films and TV by Judy Harris
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching The Skies, Vol II: 1958–1962. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1986. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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