Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Wasp Woman


I’m not usually into bad movies, but for some reason when this title came up as I was scrolling through upcoming stuff on TCM, I decided to TiVo it. I didn’t know it was a Roger Corman production until his name appeared in the credits as writer and director. Typically, it had a shooting schedule of about a week. And as usual, Corman used standing sets, and pretty cheap ones at that. There is an “elevator” that is truly laughable. The doors slide open and you can almost see the stagehands pulling and pushing them. Beyond the doors is what looks like just another room.

The story is about a woman who founded a cosmetics company that is failing. She looks for a way to restore her faded beauty, and market it as a fountain of youth. An off-the-shelf strange scientist is experimenting with bee and wasp compounds, and he injects her with one. The result is that from time to time she grows a huge head and insect claws and kills the people who work for her. And she eats them, all apparently without growing any larger. Hell, instead of a youth drug she has invented the ultimate no-weight-gain diet!

Even in an era of dime store silly and awful monsters, her “wasp” head is hilarious. We don’t get to see it for more than a second in any shot. If we had, the laughter in the theater would have been heard outside, and a block away. The whole thing was only 60 minutes long, but seemed longer.

This was the last film role for Susan Cabot, born Harriet Shapiro. It seems she actually had some stature as an actress for a while, at least in the B-movie community, co-starring with guys like Tony Curtis and Audie Murphy. She was romantically linked with King Hussein of Jordan, for chrissake! But her mental health deteriorated. She became a hoarder, paranoid, suicidal. Finally she was murdered … by her own son.