Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Wasp Woman (1959)

The Wasp Woman (1959) is one of many low-budget B horror movies produced by legendary producer, director and actor Roger Corman. The film stars Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin the "wasp woman". Cabot is known for appearing in a string of westerns and b-movies in the 1940s and 50’s. She gained notoriety when rumors of her alleged affair with King Hussein of Jordan surfaced. The Wasp Woman (1959) would be her final movie.
The film also starred:
Anthony Eisley, best known for his role as Tracey Steele, in the television series Hawaiian Eye.
Barboura Morris noted for appearing in many low-budget movies, such as Sorority Girl (1957) with Susan Cabot and A Bucket of Blood (1959), both directed by Roger Corman. She graduated from UCLA where she and Corman were classmates.
Michael Mark appeared in over 120 films between 1928 and 1969. He appeared in several of the Universal Frankenstein movies. He played different parts in each of the Frankenstein films, his most notable role in the series was that of as Maria’s (the little girl who is drowned by the creature) father in Frankenstein (1931)
Roger Corman, the director and producer made a cameo appearance as a doctor in the hospital scene.
A scientist played by Michal Mark begins secretly working for a cosmetics company executive played Susan Cabot.  The somewhat eccentric scientist develops a new rejuvenating beauty cream derived from an enzyme secreted by wasps which is intended to make women look more youthful.  The executive obsessed with restoring her lost beauty, insists on being the first test subject. The solution seems to work well until she begins to take on traits of a giant female wasp, setting out on a killing spree.
This film was clearly influenced by Kurt Neumann's The Fly (1959).  Corman was known for coming up with the poster for his films before the script was even written. Which would explain why the Wasp Woman in the film has the head and hands of a wasp but the body of a woman which is exactly the opposite of the creature shown in the film's poster.
In the final scene, when the  scientist, Zinthrop throws a bottle of acid at the Wasp Woman the plan was that Cabot would drop behind a desk and someone would sprinkle liquid smoke on her mask and then she would come back up.However someone over filled the 'breakaway' bottle with too much water and the bottle was so heavy that when it struck Cabot she said "I thought my teeth had been knocked through my nose!” To make matters worse, someone accidentally put too much liquid smoke on her mask and by the time she crashed through the window the smoke had gone through the two air holes and into her lungs. A crew member realized that she could not breathe, so they quickly pulled the mask off along with some of Cabot’s skin.
To save money the film's musical score, written by Fred Katz, originally written for A Bucket of Blood (1959) was reused for this film.  The score has been used in a total of seven films, including Creature from the Haunted Sea (1959) and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).
Originally double-billed with The Beast from Haunted Cave (1959) which was produced by Corman’s brother Gene Corman. The Wasp Woman (1959) directly inspired Edward Dein’s The Leech Woman (1960). Like most of Roger Corman’s cheapie films The Wasp Woman (1959) a somewhat goofy but entertaining horror flick.


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