Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roger Corman Week - Day 3 - The Wasp Woman (1960)

So today we move to what really has to be the bulk of Mr. Corman's output - generally low-budget, quickie horror and sci-fi flicks. One thing that must be noted, however, is that almost without exception, no matter how low the budget, no matter what kind of other restraints Corman and his crews were filming under, the end result may not have been high art, but it was generally entertaining.

Of course, probably the best known of these were the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that he produced in conjunction with AIP, most of which starred Vincent Price. Though usually quite loosely (to be kind)adapted from the original source material, titles such as The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Masque of the Red Death, were great hits both for Corman and the studio. Beyond these, however, Corman's output was definitely prodigious. His IMDB page is littered with credits such as Creature from the Haunted Sea, A Bucket of Blood, The Undead, Attack of theGiant Leeches, Humanoids from the Deep, Deathstalker, House, Piranha, and Death Race 2000.

And, of course, today's gem from the treasure chest, The Wasp Woman.

The Wasp Woman is the story of aging model and cosmetics entrepreneur Janice Starlin. Concerned because her advancing years are making her no longer suitable to be the youthful face of her company, Ms. Starlin is desperate for a way to make herself younger. When she is approached by research scientist Eris Zinthrop, who claims to have a serum derived from a queen wasp's royal jelly that gives youth back to test animals, Janice thinks she may have found the answer she is looking for. She immediately insists, over the scientist's objections that it is not ready for human testing, that she be injected with the experimental formula. Though the reaction was immediate with the guinea pig that she was shown, there is no discernable change in Ms. Starlin. Desperate, she begins to sneak into the lab at night and inject herself with larger and larger doses of the serum. Soon, the changes begin to kick in, though they are definitely not the type she was looking for. Fortunately she is able to find a way to stave off the horrific change that she is undergoing. Unfortunately, that way involves the drinking of human blood.

Admittedly the film is a slow burn. And, unfortunately the transformation that Starlin undergoes is nowhere near as dramatic as that shown in the movie's poster. Nonetheless, the movie and it's players have a certain charm that keep it entertaining despite its obvious flaws.

Here's a preview:

And, the Skinny:
Title: The Wasp Woman
Release Date: 1960
Running Time: 73min
Black and White
Starring: Susan Cabot
Directed by: Roger Corman, Jack Hill
Produced by: Roger Corman
Distributed by: The Filmgroup, Inc.

The Wasp Woman is available to watch or download for free here.
Amazon has the film available for purchase on DVD: The Wasp Woman.

Netflix has the movie available to reserve for when they get more copies: The Wasp Woman / Attack of the Giant Leeches.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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