The Wasp Woman

September 4, 2011 at 2:00 am (5 Heads, Wasp Woman) (, , , , , , )

The Wasp Woman – 1959 – United States

The Wasp Woman exemplifies producer/director Roger Corman’s derivative and thrifty style. Imitating the The Fly (1958), Wasp Woman’s aspirations are low. Fun fact: Jack Hill produced a prologue two years later for Wasp Woman’s television release. The prologue features an uncredited Aaron Kincaid, known for cut-rate Beach Party clones (Ski Party, The Girls on the Beach, Beach Ball). It’s hard to miss his irritatingly intense voice.

In this nearly educational prologue, beekeepers do their thing. Meanwhile, an unhinged but well-meaning scientist formulates a serum from wasp royal jelly. With the serum’s revitalizing power, a giant Doberman reverts to a lovable puppy. An aging cosmetics CEO hires the scientist and schemes to sell the serum, but mostly just doses herself and stay forever young. Of course, after a test-kitten ominously goes berserk, we know everything won’t turn out okay. Soon enough, the CEO injects too much serum against the scientist’s wishes and transforms into a were-wasp. Here the flick’s pithy bloodletting begins.

The Wasp Woman’s slow and talky script is cheaply confined to stark offices and laboratories. The titular wasp woman doesn’t even show until the last third. The effects are comprised of a furry wasp mask (formerly a wolf-man mask) and a few blood dribbles. Witness Roger Corman at his most spartan. However, I appreciate Wasp Woman’s message. The moralistic plot criticizes vanity and brushes philosophical queries such as “Should Man play God?” and “Is there a beast in all of us?” Also, the crazy scientist is surprisingly a good guy.

Those familiar with Corman’s numerous sci-fi efforts (It Conquered the World, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Not of this Earth) know what to expect. You either love this crusty old crap or just don’t care.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. For the ultimate in sexy gal bugs, see Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973).

Note: In one scene, two characters discuss Dr. Cyclops (1940). How very unlike Corman not to namedrop one of his own flicks instead.


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