Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wasp Woman (1960)

The Wasp Woman (Also known by the title The Bee Girl and Insect Woman) is a science fiction movie directed by Roger Corman which was completed in 1959. 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 queen wasp. 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 Bill Lane 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 to 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 breath, so they managed to pull a bit of the mask off, along with some skin.

Director Corman was clearly influenced by Kurt Neumann's 1958 film The Fly. 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. In Jack Hill's prologue, we see a slightly mad Dr. Zinthrop fired from his job at a honey farm for experimenting with wasps. Trying to keep ahead of schedule, Corman tried to film the climactic action scene in one take.

73 MIN

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