Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Wasp Woman, Roger Corman's Anti-Aging Cream

Ahhhh, to reverse the aging process.  In film, this endeavor usually doesn't go well. If Roger Corman made the film, you are guaranteed of horrific results.  Hence 1959's "The Wasp Woman" with Susan Cabot in the title role. In 1957, Corman and Cabot dated and she signed an exclusive contract with him. By the way, she also dated King Hussein of Jordan (I knew King Hussein and Corman had a lot in common).  In the 1980s, Cabot started taking a growth hormone which was prescribed to her son, and became mentally ill. Cabot's dwarf son would later bludgeon her to death.  Her demise appears to be a morbid connection to her most famous film which we will examine today.
Janice Starlin (Cabot) runs a large cosmetic company.  Janice's face graces all of the company's advertisements.  Uh oh....Janice has hit 40, and her face isn't so youthful anymore.  Profits decrease, and Janice needs to figure out something fast. Enter Dr. Zinthrop (Michael Mark), a quack wasp scientist.  He has discovered a wasp enzyme which will reverse the aging process (...yeah, like this will go well). Janice is amazed and convinces Zinthrop to inject her...which he does.  Her secretary, Mary (Barboura Morris) and ad-man, Bill (Anthony Eisley) are suspicious of Zinthrop and spy on him and Janice. To everyone's amazement, our 40 year old CEO now looks 22 again.
 As suspicion grows around Zinthrop's lab, employees start dying. After Zinthrop is involved in a serious accident, Janice begins injecting herself...big mistake. The wasp enzymes go haywire inside Janice, and she begins changing.  As more attacks in the building occur, Bill tries to find out answers. Unfortunately for Mary, the beautiful secretary, she heads to Janice's office to warn her of the danger unaware that Janice is the danger.  Will Mary walk in on a hornet's nest of peril (eh, make that a wasp's nest)?
Campy and at times slow, "The Wasp Woman" has a very exciting ending. Cabot is terrific as the desperate, turned monstrous, cosmetic executive. The final tragic years of Cabot's life make this film a very interesting aspect of her biography.  You can see "The Wasp Woman" on YouTube. Thanks  for some of Cabot's backstory.    

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