• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Wasp Woman

TITLE: The Wasp Woman

YEAR:  1959

GENRE: Science Fiction and Horror

The 1950’s was an ever changing time similar to our own era. The technological advances in that time frame were immense: advances in automobiles, television, media, and medicine were extraordinary. It also was a time for extreme research in the world of cosmetics, as heavy chemical use was common in the cosmetics of the day. The 1950’s were not too far removed from the era when cosmetics were tested with radioactive materials and shoe sizes were confirmed with heavy doses of X-rays, so there was a valid reason to see science and technology in a more frightening light in that time. Groundbreaking director/producer Roger Corman was one of the many low budget producers who used this fear to create many of his horror and science fiction productions, and The Wasp Woman is one of those more memorable productions. The Wasp Woman is an interesting horror/science fiction movie that while hearkening back to the 1950’s also brings about issues that are still relevant today.

Janice Starling (played by Susan Cabot) is the aging executive of a cosmetics firm that is financially struggling for many reasons. Starling believes that her own natural aging is putting a detrimental impact on the image of her company. Like Heaven sent, scientist Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark) appears with a serum created from the enzymes from wasps that gives older woman youthful skin almost instantly. Starling is more than happy to become the test subject and her youthful radiance returns. However it is with a cost, as secretary Mary (Barboura Morris) and ad executive Bill (Anthony Eisley) notice that their boss is becoming more cantankerous than usual. Zinthrop ends up in an unfortunate car accident and can not whip up any more of the fountain of youth formula. Without the anti-aging cream Starling transforms into a hideous wasp monster with the attitude of a swarm of yellow jackets that ends up terrorizing the employees of her company.

This is one of the famous Corman cheapies that was made on a shoestring $50,000 budget and filmed in just a few days. As a result, this film does have some production flaws mostly from the cheap special effects—the monster wasp woman is merely a black body suit, some cheap makeup, and a wasp mask. The acting is slightly better than most 1950’s science fiction fare which means it was sub-par compared to the A-list pictures of the time. Despite this, The Wasp Woman does question the increasing chemical dependence of the country in all aspects of society including the use of makeup and perfumes. Synthetics were fairly new addition in the make-up world, and Corman used his camera to give a fair warning that the side effects can be deadly. This message can also be applied to today with the increasing use of chemical compounds in food, drinks, and other items mindlessly consumed by a trusting public. In this respect, The Wasp Woman is a fairly groundbreaking film.

This was the last film of Cabot, whose career included appearances in Corman-produced films Sorority Girl and Machine Gun Kelly; Cabot died by the hand of her son as he bludgeoned her to death with a weight lifting bar due to years of accused mental and physical abuse. The Wasp Woman is an interesting study of 1950’s science fiction fare when many projects served as a warning that the upcoming technological breakthroughs would hang over society like the sword of Damocles. Society may be better for a short while with better living through chemistry, but there also could be some dire consequences in the name of convenience. The Wasp Woman is one of those films that serve as a voice in the wilderness and its message is not that far fetched. We may not be turning into hideous creatures due to an anti-aging cream, but the race to be more beautiful than the Joneses has brought with it various forms of cancer that did not exist before our flirtation with liposuction, tanning booths, and bust enhancements. The Wasp Woman is a fun production that may not have aged gracefully, but its exposure to our societal wrinkles is admirable.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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