October 22nd, 2012
|11:20 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The Wasp Woman|
Confession: When I picked The Wasp Woman as tonight's movie, I'd misread the title as The W.A.S.P. Woman and was expecting something along the lines of Lutherans from Space, but no such luck.
Actually, no, I'd chosen this movie because it was short.
I am of two minds regarding The Wasp Woman On one hand, I'd like to say that it's not very good. On the other, I'd like to say that it's fine for what it is, and I guess that's the tack I'd like to take: most horror movies are "fine for what they are". It is a genre that produces very few epics, and the majority are like candy: relevant only while you're experiencing them, and over with little consequence. Perversely, it is this very inconsequence that makes them so pleasurable to consume in mass quantities, and yes, every once in awhile you come across one that's really good or poignant or otherwise important.
The Wasp Woman is not really good or poignant or otherwise important, but in 73 minutes it delivers a pleasurable buzz. The word buzz was part of that sentence before I realized the pun, sorry.
Let's get down to brass tacks: Do you ever get to see a giant wasp with a woman's head, like on the poster? No. This is the story of the Starlin Cosmetics Company, and in particular, its founder, Janice Starlin. Janice is getting on in years -- well, she must be around forty, but to a professional model, that's like being in the vicinity of forty three. Janice can no longer model her own products. Luckily, the dubiously-credentialed Mr. (not Dr. -- no one ever calls him doctor) Eric Zinthrop shows up mit ein German accent, und a crazy-but-genuine miracle anti-aging cure involving royal jelly. Janice agrees to fund his research, but only if she can be the first human test subject.
From here we watch as Janice becomes younger and more beautiful by day, but becomes a man-eating beelady at night. And by that I mean that she actually attacks people, bites their necks and drinks their blood Bela Lugosi-style. The board members of Starlin Cosmetics provide a MacGuffin by conducting an investigation into just what the hell the movie is about, since everything important is happening when they're offscreen.
There are no big twists or surprises, but it moves along at a good clip, and if not beautifully constructed, it's at least competently written. No surprise there -- Roger Corman directed and acted as producer. Corman knew how to give an audience their money's worth (but no more than that). Jack Hill also has a directing credit, and as it turns out, he shot a pointless 7-minute prologue to pad out the running time for television broadcast. Most versions of the movie include the prologue, and would play better without it. Jack Hill is a favorite director of mine, and this came early enough in his career that he was probably still trying to get his foot firmly in the door.
Anyway, in conclusion, I'd like to make two jokes, one involving the word buzz, and the other ending with the phrase "one honey of a film!" I'm too lazy to make the jokes myself, but I'm sure you can fill something in.
Here's the trailer, but it's in the public domain, so you can see the whole thing here.