The Wasp Woman ('59)


Just before launching into a string of classy, upscale Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with Vincent Price, Roger Corman directed a slew of B&W cheapies. Of course, he would go on to produce scads of b-movies, but The Wasp Woman is one of the better films that he directed himself. No, there isn't a budget. No, the creature effects aren't awe-inspiring. No, this flick isn't that much better than your average "mad scientist" romp, but you know what? It's fun! Susan Cabot plays the head of a cosmetic company that is experiencing a stagnation in sales. To polish the firm's image, she seeks the help of a loopy beekeeper.

You see, our mad scientist has found that a certain enzyme extracted from wasp DNA can reverse the aging process. Naturally, Cabot's character injects the stuff and turns into a hymenopterous were-wasp. You think I made that word up, don't you? Go ahead, look it up. Jackass. Anyway, this is a decent watch. It's fast-paced, well-acted, and the dialogue is witty. Compared to similar pictures, the verbal exchanges are fairly realistic. The whole film has a breezy, informal feel to it that makes the slower scenes easier to sit through. Also, I enjoyed the death sequences, as tame as they are. There is quite a bit of blood. No wounds or puncture marks. Just blood. Yeah.

In researching The Wasp Woman, I read that Cabot was bludgeoned to death in the 80's by her dwarf son. Take that, Poltergeist curse! Corman commissioned an exploitative remake in 1995 that I was unfortunate enough to rent as a teenager. It boasted plenty of gore and bouncing boobies, but needless to say, I prefer the original. With Halloween approaching, now would be a great time to grab this golden oldie. It shouldn't be too hard to find. It's no Attack of the Crab Monsters, but what is?

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