The Wasp Woman

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The Wasp Woman
The Wasp Woman.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roger Corman
Jack Hill
Produced by Roger Corman
Screenplay by Leo Gordon
Story by Kinta Zertuche
Starring Susan Cabot
Anthony Eisley
Michael Mark
Barboura Morris
Music by Fred Katz
Cinematography Harry Neumann
Edited by Carlo Lodato
Distributed by Filmgroup
Release dates
  • October 30, 1959 (1959-10-30) (United States)
Running time
73 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50,000 (estimated)[1]

The Wasp Woman (aka The Bee Girl and Insect Woman) is an American science fiction film produced and directed by Roger Corman (who also plays a cameo as a doctor in the film) which was completed in 1959. The film was originally released as a double feature with Beast from Haunted Cave.[citation needed] To pad out the running time when the film was released to television two years later, a new prologue was added to the film by director Jack Hill.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

In Jack Hill's prologue, we see a slightly mad Dr. Zinthrop 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. Scientist Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) has been able to extract enzymes from the royal jelly of the queen wasp that can reverse the aging process. Starlin 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 managing and then transferring his care to herself.

Janice continues her clandestine use of the serum and sheds twenty 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Susan Cabot as the Wasp Woman

The Wasp Woman has the head and hands of a wasp but the body of a woman—exactly the opposite of the creature shown in the film's poster (which does not appear in the film).

Trying to keep ahead of schedule, Corman tried to film the climactic action scene in one take. Whenever The Wasp Woman bit one of her victims, Cabot had to have a mouthful of chocolate syrup to pass for black-and-white blood. When Eric Zinthrop throws a bottle of acid at The Wasp Woman in the final scene, the plan was that Cabot would drop behind a desk and someone would sprinkle some liquid smoke on her mask and then she would come back up. They accidentally put too much liquid smoke on her and by the time she crashed through the window the smoke had gone through the two air holes and into her lungs. Then someone worked out that she could not breathe, so they managed to pull a bit of the mask off, along with some skin.[citation needed]

In 1962,[2] director Jack Hill added 20 minutes to the film for its eventual television syndication release, shooting without access to any original cast-member.[3]

Release[edit]

According to Tim Dirks, the film 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." [4]

Though most audiences did not see the film until the official release on February 12, 1960 (when male lead Anthony Eisley was starring on the TV series Hawaiian Eye), it was re-released as part of the 100th Anniversary of Monster Movies in March 2010.[5]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's musical score, written by Fred Katz, was originally written for 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, Katz sold the same score as if it were new music.[6] The score was used in a total of seven films, including The Little Shop of Horrors and Creature from the Haunted Sea.[7]

Reception[edit]

The film has received mixed to negative reviews from critics.

TV Guide gave the film a negative review, awarding it a score of 1 / 4 calling the film "laughable".[8] Allmovie a negative review, criticizing the film's "ludicrous" monster costume, special effects, and low budget.[9] Leonard Maltin gave the film a mostly positive 2 1/2 / 4 stars.[10] It currently has a 45% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes[11]

Parodies[edit]

On April 6, 2008, Cinematic Titanic did a live riffing of the film to a theater audience. It was released on DVD on August 7, 2008.[12]

Cinema Insomnia[edit]

In 2007, The Wasp Woman was shown on the horror hosted television series Cinema Insomnia.[13] Apprehensive Films later released the Cinema Insomnia episode onto DVD.[14]

Remake[edit]

The film was remade in 1988 as Rejuvenatrix (also known as The Rejuvenator). In 1995, a remake of The Wasp Woman was produced for the Roger Corman Presents series. The remake was directed by Jim Wynorski, and stars Jennifer Rubin as Janice.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alan Frank, The Films of Alan Frank: Shooting My Way Out of Trouble, Bath Press, 1998 p 65
  2. ^ Waddell, Calum (2009). Jack Hill: The Exploitation and Blaxploitation Master, Film by Film. McFarland & Company. p. 11. ISBN 978-0786436095. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Monster Movies Celebrate 100th Anniversary With Marathon Webcast
  6. ^ Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers As Distributors. McFarland & Company. p. 40. ISBN 0-89950-628-3. 
  7. ^ "Fred Katz filmography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  8. ^ "The Wasp Woman Review". TV Guide. TV Guide.com. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Wasp Woman (1959) - Roger Corman | Review". Allmovie. AllMovie.com. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3. 
  11. ^ "The Wasp Woman (1959)- Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes.com. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "Cinema Insomnia". Cinema Insomnia. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Wasp Woman DVD". Apprehensive Films. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  15. ^ The Wasp Woman at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]