BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

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The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

A camp classic, deserving of every ounce of praise it has earned over its lifetime, gets a new 2K scan from the best surviving print thanks to Shout! FactoryThe Wasp Woman, written by longtime Roger Corman contributor Leo Gordon (writer of The Terror and Tower of London), is more than just a tale of youth and beauty regained; it is now a certified classic of bee-movies.  Buzz, buzz.

Toward the latter-half of the 1950s, producer/director Roger Corman took his fledgling distribution company to the stratosphere with a slew of no-budget genre flicks aimed directly for the popular drive-in theaters popping up around the country.  The decision to aim solely for the drive-in was a risky one.  To be that limited in the market game had huge financial risks.  It paid off; however, and we now celebrate Corman as the movie genius that he remains.

"With The Wasp Woman, we have Corman helming one of his strongest outings."


There’s simply no one in Hollywood, for a long period of time, that didn’t owe Corman a huge debt for launching their careers in the business of moviemaking.  Corman worked with a lot of talented people.  From Jack Nicholson to Joe Dante, Corman launched a lot of careers.  With The Wasp Woman, we have Corman helming one of his strongest outings.

Otherwise known as the movie that almost killed Corman regular Susan Cabot (Sorority Girl), The Wasp Woman is Roger Corman’s protest movie about not valuing women over a certain age.  It’s true.  We don’t and, as the lesson is still not learned, we continue to devalue women of age to this day.

In Gordon’s script, this whole situation is presented through a cosmetics firm whose aging owner (Cabot) takes a huge risk when a pseudo-scientist claims to have discovered the secret to reversing a person’s age.  She becomes his guinea pig and, yeah, she turns into a woman-sized wasp.  Of course, she gets younger first and then craves the serum, but the side effect of morphing into a wasp just isn’t worth it.  She pays the ultimate price, too.

While some might suggest that The Wasp Woman is merely a rip-off of The Fly, made with PMS on the mind, and only exists to line wallets with cash, I sill submit to you that Corman was always socially concerned and, because he could turn a quick profit, shot the film in a total of five days to, yes, (a) cash in on The Fly and (b) comment on women being under appreciated in a work environment that saw them as secretaries only. 

The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

Regardless of whether I am right or wrong, the film zips along with an energy that comes from Corman’s thriftiness and execution.  The film is funny and frightening, filling its time with Corman-type character actors: including Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris, William Roerick, The Atomic Brain’s Frank Gerstle, Roy Gordon,  and Bruno VeSota.  The sharpest of eyes will also spot a rare Corman cameo as

And thanks to Shout! Factory, we get two versions of the movie: the theatrical version and the extended version, with 10 additional minutes shot by Jack Hill, to sink our teeth into!

5 beers

The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
63 mins
Director
: Roger Corman
Writer:
Leo Gordon
Cast:
Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Strong men forced to satisfy a passion no human knows.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'd stay away from wasps if I were you, Mrs. Starlin. Socially the queen wasp is on the level with a Black Widow spider."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 30, 1959
Synopsis: Susan Cabot plays Janice Starlin, whose cosmetic company has started to lose sales because its marketing relies on her own once-impressive but now aging beauty. The eccentric Dr. Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) develops an enzyme extract from royal wasp jelly, which rejuvenates Janice, with one tiny little side effect: It turns her into a monster! Written by frequent Corman collaborator Leo Gordon (The Terror, Tower of London), this chiller co-stars Anthony Eisley (The Naked Kiss) and Barboura Morris (A Bucket Of Blood).

The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- October 30, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master audio
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Using a fine grain print with which to do a 2K scrub, Shout! Factory cleans up The Wasp Woman and makes the details shine again.  The handling of this camp classic does not disappoint thanks to breathtaking black and white imagery and a steady pace.  The gray and white skin tones are well-saturated and shadows are strong. There is a nice grain to the look of the film and textures in the house are more than perceptible. The 1.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix keeps us in the picture with mood effects and clean dialogue.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries: one with Film Historian Troy Howarth and another with Film Historian Tom Weaver and Dr. Robert J. Kiss.

Special Features:

This release includes both the Theatrical and Television Cut of the film in High Definition.  We get two audio commentaries, and a theatrical trailer. 

• Theatrical Trailer

The Wasp Woman (1959) - Blu-ray

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