The Wasp Woman (aka The Bee Girl and Insect Woman) is a science fiction film produced and directed by Roger Corman (who also plays a cameo as a doctor in the film) which was completed in 1959. The film was originally released as a double feature with Beast from Haunted Cave. To pad out the running time when the film was released to television two years later, a new prologue was added by director Jack Hill.
In Jack Hill's prologue, we see a slightly mad Dr. Zinthrop fired from his job at a honey farm for experimenting with wasps.
The founder and owner of a large cosmetics company, Janice Starlin (Susan Cabot), is disturbed when her firm's sales begin to drop after it becomes apparent to her customer base that she is aging. Scientist Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) has been able to extract enzymes from the royal jelly of the queen wasp that can reverse the aging process. Starlin agrees to fund further research, at great cost, provided she can serve as his human subject. Displeased with the slowness of the results she breaks into the scientist's laboratory after hours and injects herself with extra doses of the formula. Zinthrop becomes aware that some of the test creatures are becoming violent and goes to warn Janice but before he can reach anyone he gets into a car accident. He is thus temporarily missing and Janice goes through great trouble to find him, eventually managing and then transferring his care to herself.
Janice continues her clandestine use of the serum and sheds twenty years in a single weekend, but soon discovers that she is periodically transformed into a murderous wasp-like creature. Eventually, Zinthrop throws a jar of carbolic acid at her face, and another character uses a chair to push her out of a window, killing her.
Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin
Anthony Eisley as Bill Lane
Barboura Morris as Mary Dennison
William Roerick as Arthur Cooper
Michael Mark as Dr. Eric Zinthrop
Frank Gerstle as Les Hellman
Bruno VeSota as Night Watchman
Roy Gordon as Paul Thompson
Carolyn Hughes as Jean Carson
Lynn Cartwright as Maureen Reardon
Frank Wolff as Delivery man
Lani Mars as Secretary
Philip Barry as Delivery man
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Susan Cabot as the Wasp Woman
The Wasp Woman has the head and hands of a wasp but the body of a woman—exactly the opposite of the creature shown in the film's poster (which does not appear in the film).
Trying to keep ahead of schedule, Corman tried to film the climactic action scene in one take.
Whenever The Wasp Woman bit one of her victims, Cabot had to have a mouthful of chocolate syrup to pass for black-and-white blood.
When Eric Zinthrop throws a bottle of acid at The Wasp Woman in the final scene, the plan was that Cabot would drop behind a desk and someone would sprinkle some liquid smoke on her mask and then she would come back up. They accidentally put too much liquid smoke on her and by the time she crashed through the window the smoke had gone through the two air holes and into her lungs. Then someone worked out that she could not breathe, so they managed to pull a bit of the mask off, along with some skin.
In 1962, director Jack Hill added 20 minutes to the film for its eventual television syndication release, shooting without access to any original cast-member.
Though most audiences did not see the film until the official release on February 12, 1960 (when male lead Anthony Eisley was starring on the TV series Hawaiian Eye), it was re-released as part of the 100th Anniversary of Monster Movies in March 2010.
The film's musical score, written by Fred Katz, was originally written for A Bucket of Blood. According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, Katz sold the same score as if it were new music. The score was used in a total of seven films, including The Little Shop of Horrors and Creature from the Haunted Sea.
On April 6, 2008, Cinematic Titanic did a live riffing of the film to a theater audience. It was released on DVD on August 7, 2008.
In 2007, The Wasp Woman was shown on the horror hosted television series Cinema Insomnia. Apprehensive Films later released the Cinema Insomnia episode onto DVD.
The film was remade in 1988 as Rejuvenatrix (also known as The Rejuvenator). In 1995, a remake of The Wasp Woman was produced for the Roger Corman Presents series. The remake was directed by Jim Wynorski, and stars Jennifer Rubin as Janice.