The Wasp Woman (1959)
Reviewed on 2008 April 1
This is a (unintentionally) hysterically funny Roger Corman grade-Z drive-in fodder. Don’t waste your time with the remake, just watch the original in all its cheesy glory.
Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) is a conscientious scientist — a rarity in your 50s junk science vehicle — who thinks he’s found the fountain of youth in royal jelly extracted from wasps. No wussy bee royal jelly for him; no sir, he’s getting his royal jelly from aggressive, carnivorous wasps. (Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you?) Zinthrop’s results are initially encouraging but before he can do further testing, his research team, determined to stick with bees, dismiss him. Zinthrop packs up his equipment and resolves to find someone who’ll appreciate his genius.
He meets with Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot), an aging cosmetics queen who’s threatened with being dethroned because she’s no longer perceived as youthful. Zinthrop shows her the results of his wasp enzyme serum and she insists on being his first human test subject. The stuff erases years from Starlin’s face and makes her young and beautiful again, but at times it also has the unpleasant side-effect of turning her into a flesh-eating she-wasp.
Normally, when I get so much as a rash, I throw the offending product away. Starlin must dread those pesky crows feet even more than being a human-eating insectoid, because she keeps shooting up with wasp juice. You can imagine the gruesome results. What you can’t imagine is the $1.98 wasp costume used to convey her transformation. Some things just need to be experienced first hand. The wooden acting matches nicely with the costuming and special effects too.
Two chocolate morsels.