Public Domain Movie: The Wasp Woman (1959)

Horror Movie Review

The Wasp Woman (1959)

Susan Cabot stars in The Wasp Woman as cosmetics company owner Janice Starlin, who is worried about her company’s flagging sales.

Sales for the last fiscal quarter are down by fourteen and a half percent; she tells her senior staff members and demands an explanation. To one member of her team, Bill Lane, the problem is obvious and he tells her so: it’s her. Miss Starling has always been the face of Starling Cosmetics, but that is no longer the case. Janice is getting older and now, after sixteen years, a new and younger face features in the company’s advertising campaigns. The company was built, he tells her, on the strength and appeal of one person: Janice Starling and Janice Starling Cosmetics should have Janice Starling’s picture advertising them.

Enter Scientist Eric Zinthrop.

Zinthrop’s last employer was paying him to research the values of Royal Jelly and Royal Jelly comes from bees. So, as you can imagine, the people signing Zinthrop’s paycheck were less than impressed to discover that he was actually working with wasps. Zinthrop tried to explain that he’d made some significant success in reversing the ageing process and it was all because of wasp royal jelly. His employers are not interested though and tell him to buzz off which is just what the nutty professor does and he makes a beeline for Starlin Cosmetics.

Zinthrop needs somewhere to continue his experiments and Janice Starlin needs a way to turn back her biological clock, so, after a little demonstration with a guinea pig, Janice gives Zinthrop a job and tells her people to provide him with everything he needs. Janice does impose one condition on Zinthrop though: she is to be his first human guinea pig. The professor agrees and is soon injecting his concoction into his new employer on a regular basis. The treatment is a success and Starlin’s secretary is soon telling her that she could pass for 23, or maybe even 22. If this sounds like a happy ending, I am sorry to disappoint you, it is only the start because the treatment has some rather nasty side effects and the queen bee of Starling Cosmetics is winging her way to disaster.

The original version of The Wasp Woman is 73 minutes long, but some versions have been cut to just 54 minutes. The story is very basic, but so are a lot of stories. The special effects are minimal, but the same can be said of a lot of older films and yet they do not drag like The Wasp Woman. One problem with the movie may be that it is hard to feel sympathetic towards any of the characters and they are quite hard to like.

The Wasp Woman: Additional Information

Directed by Roger Corman


Susan Cabot … Janice Starlin
Anthony Eisley … Bill Lane
Barboura Morris … Mary Dennison
William Roerick … Arthur Cooper
Michael Mark … Eric Zinthrop
Frank Gerstle … Les Hellman
Bruno VeSota … Night watchman
Roy Gordon … Paul Thompson
Carolyn Hughes … Jean Carson
Lynn Cartwright … Maureen Reardon
Frank Wolff … Man
Lani Mars … Secretary
Phillip Barry … Man

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