The Wasp Woman – USA, 1959 – overview and reviews

‘A beautiful woman by day – A lusting queen wasp by night.’

The Wasp Woman is a 1959 American science fiction horror feature film produced and directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Leo Gordon (The Terror; Tower of London; Attack of the Giant Leeches). The movie stars Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley and Barboura Morris.

To pad out the running time when the film was released on television two years later, a new prologue was added by director Jack Hill (Spider Baby).

The Wasp Woman‘s musical score, written by Fred Katz, was originally composed 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, he 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.

Corman remade the film for cable television in 1995.

Scream Factory released The Wasp Woman on Blu-ray on October 30, 2018.

  • Includes both the theatrical and television versions of the film in high definition
  • New 2K scan of an archival fine grain print of the theatrical version and the additional television footage
  • New Audio commentary with film historian and author Troy Howarth
  • New Audio commentary with film historians and authors Tom Weaver and Doctor Robert J. Kiss
  • Theatrical trailer


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 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. 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 queen wasp… wasp_woman_lobby_card_1

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“… would certainly seem to offer little promise for those who expect more from a horror or science-fiction movie than a shitty monster suit and a woman in peril, but Corman and screenwriter Leo Gordon somehow managed to turn it into something startlingly serious and mature.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“A passably well-made B movie but there is nothing remarkable to it. Most of the action is static and talky and the film drags, even though it only has a 73-minute running time. Indeed, The Wasp Woman is surely the first monster movie where the action is entirely limited to the confines of an office.” Moria

“Sure, it’s about as kitschy and cheesy as any late 50‘s/early 60‘s Roger Corman flick (one only needs to look at the dreadful movie poster to ascertain this), but with the benefit of hindsight we can look at the film now as a prescient satire on a society obsessed with appearance, beauty, and sexuality.” A Fistful of Cult


Buy 12 Cult Classics DVD:

“Even though this movie is about a woman who de-ages and transforms into a wasp-human hybrid, it’s surprisingly realistic, both in its portrayal of a sympathetic villain and in its understanding of how the beauty industry affects and pressures people. The performances are likewise compelling, and, despite the obvious camp of the script, the actors give it their all.” Syfy Wire


The Wasp Woman is seen by some as Roger Corman’s heart-felt protest at how society undervalues women over the age of forty, as true today as ever. Others argue The Wasp Woman is evidence of Roger’s sincere belief that a shameless rip-off of  The Fly (1958), a big money-earner for 20th Century Fox the previous year, would earn similar profits for him.” Horror News

“Seriously, Cabot is quite good in this entertaining low budget drive-in effort that’s nicely directed by the King of the Quickies. Corman’s tight direction weaves a bit of realism into the wacky sci fi material, and enhances the overall effectiveness. It may be implausible, but it’s good old-fashioned matinee fun.” The Terror Trap

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