The Wasp Woman (1959)



Notes: Filmgroup Presentation. 73 minutes.
Janice Starlin: Susan Cabot
Eric Zinthrop: Michael Mark
Bill Lane: Fred Eisley
Mary Dennison: Barboura Morris
Arthur Cooper: William RoerickMaureen Reardon: Lynn Cartwright

Written: Leo Gordon & Kinta Zertuche
Directed: Roger Corman

Summary: Eric Zinthrop is supposed to be working for a honey corporation, but he gets canned due to his experimentation with royal jelly and wasp enzymes. He seems able to reverse the effects of age (though old guinea pigs become rats on screen).Cosmetics CEO, Janice Starlin, surrounded by stodgy men in a boardroom, expresses displeasure at sagging sales. One wise-ass insists it’s her own fault because she is aging and no longer a viable ad for her own company. Zinthrop brings her word of his discovery. She sees the animal evidence and volunteers to be the first human subject for his experimenting. Meanwhile, one office secretary, Maureen, files her nails and talks tough; it’s all she ever does and she’ll have nothing left but bloody stumps by the end of the film, we suspect.

Janice starts looking younger, eventually 18 years younger, when she was 22 or 23. But another secretary, Mary, and an advertising executive, Bill, are uneasy about the changes in the boss. After all, years ago there was all that hubbub about monkey glands, and look how that turned out!

One of Zinthrop’s cats goes wild, and he is disturbed by the implications, wandering into traffic and getting hit by a car. The brain damage means that Janice must give herself the injections, but something goes horribly wrong and she ends up having episodes during which her head becomes that of a giant hairy insect and she kills people such as the obese night watchman. “Try to think!” she begs the bedridden Zinthrop.

She ends up with only one injection left, begs “Help me,” but becomes the wasp woman and kills a nurse. Zinthrop comes sufficiently out of his fog to urge no more injections: “terrible danger!” Mary is instructed to call the police from Janice’s office, but Zinthrop worries that Janice “will kill her and tear her body to shreds,” “and devour her remains.” The wasp woman vs. the scientist, then vs. a stool thrown by Bill. Some chemical assault drives the wasp woman out the window.

Commentary: The film is better than most thrird-rate monster debacles I’ve seen in these last few weeks. But most distracting is the notion that in the late ’50s and early ’60s you did not have to work much at all during the weekdays. You could plunk your ass down on the corner of a nail-filing secretary’s desk and shoot the breeze. What happened?

Animal & Insect Films