The Wasp Woman (1959)

wasp woman poster 1959 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 2/10

All the elements for classic '50s B-Movie

Cheap and generic

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Wasp Woman

Studio: Santa Cruz Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  July 5, 1959 (Premiere)/October 30, 1959 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

wasp woman michael mark susan cabot

Remember that experimental drug you were making? I might have taken a teensy bit of it

Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot) is the owner and face behind a successful cosmetic line but finds her sales are falling as she ages.  When Dr. Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) comes to her with a potential miracle de-aging process using royal jelly from wasps instead of bees, Janice realizes it could not only be a financial boon but also provide a personal salvation.  Janice finds the research going too slowly and decides to try the treatment herself…but the experimental drug isn’t ready for human use and the side effects could be deadly!

Directed by Roger Corman (with additional segments directed by Jack Hill for the television release), The Wasp Woman (also known as Insect Woman) is a low-budget science-fiction horror B-Movie.  The film was originally a double-feature with Beast from Haunted Cave.  The film was released to negative reviews.

wasp woman kills nurse susan cabot

Feel the sting of Wasp Woman!

The Wasp Woman seems like a natural.  From the early horror movies to the 1960s, it seemed like every animal-insect-reptile was combined with a human.  The Wasp Woman has a great poster, but doesn’t live up to the art.

The movie is kind of a generic and cheaper version of the 1958 movie The Fly.  Janice of course experiments on herself and of course there are horrible side effects.  She gets young, but she transforms into a bloodthirsty monster.  It is simple, basic, and develops as you expect.  The movie is short and to the point.  It seems like they had the idea and didn’t know how to end it.  The end is pretty abrupt.

The movie has a very low-budget look and the actors likewise feel wooden in their paper-thin roles.  You have scientists with rooms full of beakers and animals, office buildings for major cosmetic companies that look like they could be selling insurance, and a creature who is barely seen in the light (which is probably smart due to its look).

wasp woman make up susan cabot

I’m a stylish Wasp Woman

The star of the film had an odd story following the release of the movie.  Susan Cabot was known for Westerns but The Wasp Woman was her final role.  She retired and raised a son.  In 1986, her son beat her to death with a weight bar.  He blamed an intruder and then said it was due to an outburst by his mother when she attacked him first (he also was taking medication for medical problems himself).  He received a conviction of involuntary manslaughter and was released for probation in 1989.

The Wasp Woman is one of those creature features that you can pop-in and not have to pay much attention to.  It is generally easy to find and always looks as cheap as you’d expect it to look on streaming services.  The movie did receive a remake in 1995 directed by Jim Wynorski for Corman’s Showtime series Roger Corman Presents.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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