Movie Reviews 280 – Fail-Safe (1964)

December 7, 2016

fail-safeDuring the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union the world sat around as the two superpowers constantly increased and intensified their respective nuclear arsenals. Beyond any sane tipping point, the discussions eventually became doomsday scenarios, with global obliteration should either side spark a conflict. If either side side sensed an immediate threat to their country it was clear that there would not be any winner left remaining.

When it came to films anyone could be forgiven if only Stanley Kubrick‘s Dr. Strangelove came to mind as it was, and remains, the categorical classic comedy on the subject. There have been a number of movies of a more serious nature – Seven Days in May comes to mind – but most have been action oriented and with spies and conspiracy theories as the driving forces thrown in for suspense. But there exists a film that in many ways is the exact opposite of Dr. Strangelove, plays out pretty much the same scenario, is just as good and yet has been largely forgotten by cinephiles and history.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, a masterful filmmaker in his own right, Fail-Safe is the definitive movie that depicts the threat of Cold War nuclear proliferation, and is presented without comedy, action sequences or surreal plot devices. Instead the drama is played out in monotone meetings with sombre faced dignitaries, sweaty brows, and tense knuckle wrangling when the unthinkable becomes imminent.

The premise of the movie has military brass conducting a presentation to dignitaries visiting the Department of Defense central command and explaining how airspace is constantly monitored by radar. Any anomalies elicit the deployment of retaliatory aircraft which, under usual circumstances, are simply recalled when the anomalies turn out to be stray airliners or other radar phenomena. They reassure everyone that fail safes have been put in place to ensure that should threats not be discounted, a presidential order is still required to have a counterattack proceed to any final target. Of course the scenario of an errant airliner then plays out live as everyone watches the big board and a cascading sequence of events lead to a blissfully ignorant rogue squadron, believing that the US is already under attack, dutifully continue to carry out orders to bomb Moscow . This leaves the president with some dire choices and the fate of humanity in his hands.

What makes Fail-Safe that much more interesting is when we compare it to Dr. Strangelove, noting the many parallels and yet at the same time being orthogonally different. The parallels begin with scenes depicting the central command showing symbolic planes against an outlay of a world map which eventually becomes concentrated on that last, lone squadron heading in with misguided intentions. We also have the lone strategist who continually posits that the situation, no matter how it changes, should call for an immediate first strike since war is imminent. And finally both have a president that has to try to convince the Soviet leader that it was all a mistake and that everything is being done to avert the drop.

But where this movie gets turned on its head when compared to Dr. Strangelove is just as interesting. Instead of having a comical Peter Sellers as president we have the stone cold portrayal of Henry Fonda. Instead of having George C. Scott as the warmonger, we have Walter Matthau, which is doubly ironic given that both of these actors were playing non-traditional roles, Scott doing comedy and Matthau playing a heavy. The role reversal continues with comedian Dom Deluise in a very minor early role but one that performs a critical act with all eyes on him.

The truth is, if you just want to watch a movie about imminent nuclear war you will be more than satisfied with Dr. Strangelove. But if you want to see a realistic movie that will scare the bejesus out of you as you consider how the fate of the world can be left in the hands of one person, the President of the United States (notwithstanding the fact that in a few weeks buffoon Donald Trump will be that man), you have to watch Fail-Safe.

Movie Reviews 279 – Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

November 27, 2016

chernobyl-diariesThe spectre of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster shocked the world in 1986 and that horror, while now contained in a man made ‘bunker’, still has lingering effects more than 30 years later. I recall reading Final Warning: The Legacy of Chernobyl, a book detailing the disaster which was written by one of the American doctors called in to assist with the aftermath of the explosion. The book described in detail the effects of radiation and the grisly injuries inflicted on both some of the staff nearby when the explosion occurred and worse, the higher radiation doses subjected to the first responders called to address the situation, some knowingly sacrificing their lives to avert an even greater global disaster.

Another aspect dealt with in the book was how Pripyat, the small city neighboring the facility, basically created as a home for all the families of those who worked at Chernobyl and only a mere three kilometers apart, ended up being the epicenter of the crisis. A city literally vacated within hours, with residents dropping everything with minutes to spare as the evacuation roundup progressed.

Now that decades have passed since the disaster (sadly overshadowed by Fukushima), the area remains radiated but only mildly compared to the initial contamination. While still uninhabitable it has become safe enough to visit for brief periods. To serve the curious, the daring and perhaps the foolish, a small but vibrant tourist trade has sprung up in the last few years.  There, for very short periods, the curious and those seeking exotic adventure can briefly enter the restricted zone and linger for a few moments to take in the ghostly vistas of the desolate city ruins.

Chernobyl Diaries blends the tourism terrors of Turistas, the unseen dangers of The Descent and the bleak city landscapes of post-apocalyptic movies to deliver a quaint, semi-original tale.

A young couple Chris (Jesse McCartney) and Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) tote Natalie’s best friend Amanda (Olivia Taylor Dudley) to the Ukraine with plans to hook up with Chris’ brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) before heading of to Moscow as the next leg of their worldwind vacation. With great reluctance on the part of Chris, Paul convinces the gang to forego Moscow and instead take up the offer from his  friend Yuri (Dimitri Diatchenko) who has a small business that  provides semi-official tours of the dilapidated Pripyat.

As they embark on their excursion they are joined by another young couple of foreign adventurers, Michael and Zoe, and together the entire gang take a two hour trip in a van to the derelict city. After a few interesting and scenic sights, it’s time to head back to safety but the van falters leaving them in a sticky situation.

With no communication, nobody on the outside knowing that they have gone there, tens of kilometers away from the nearest civilization, the group ponders staying stranded for the night. But Pripyat has a few secrets and the noises emanating in the dark may only be the rabid dogs they’ve heard stories about, or something else altogether.

The plots devolves into characters that go missing, get injured and die, but other than glimpses of humanoids scurrying in the background, we don’t learn much more. There is some tension, some question of trust, especially that of Yuri, but once that is settled, the movie just becomes a chase and survival flick. Too easy.

There are horrors that eventually reveal themselves but the the real horror of the Chernobyl tragedy surpases this lifeless cinematic opportunistic film. Watch a documentary on Chernobyl instead.

Movie Reviews 278 – Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

November 17, 2016

Scouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseLife long friends Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller), and Augie (Joey Morgan) have also been boy scouts for as long as they can remember. But life moves on and both Ben and Carter are feeling the strains of being uniform wearing outcasts. Besides, they’ve discovered girls. Trouble is, they have remained members of their pathetic troop, only themselves and the dorky scout leader Rogers (David Koechner), because of their sympathy for Augie since the loss of his father a few years earlier. But Carter has pressed the point with Ben and the two have decided to come clean with Augie and let him know they are quitting. As Augie is on the brink of receiving the highly honoured Condor patch award with only one more night camp out required, the boys plan to seize that opportunity to tell him. The timing however could not be worse as Ben and Carter they have just been invited to the “Big Party” that very same night. Even worse is the fact that due to a “janitorial mishap” at the nearby laboratory a plague has been unleashed on the unsuspecting town. Thus, making use of all their acquired survival skills, the boys provide viewers with the Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

OK, we really didn’t need another zombie movie this late in the craze, but while a lot of the tropes are just played out, there are a few good laughs, a few good kills, a touch of pathos and if that wasn’t enough they threw in a strip club with a zombie stripper just to make things interesting. But don’t worry, the brains and guts in this zombie fighting team aren’t the boys at all but the cocktail waitress (not stripper! Denise (Sarah Dumont) from the club who leads (and saves) the boys before they launch the final scout charge.

Some of the fun comes from the Dolly Parton worshiping scout leader and his home museum dedicated to the country star that includes a Dolly pinball machine. The opening scene with the pothead janitor who unleashes the peril while slacking on the job is pretty hilarious, but there are a few other decent jags and kills to keep things interesting. We also have the mandatory bit of teen love, teen lust, and teen coming of age. In the end the scout Oath prevails over all, including zombies.

So I recommend you watch this movie and earn your own Zombie Merit Badge before the craze ends. I think you have to watch at least 100 zombie movies for the badge, though. Going to have to check my 1976 scout guide book, because yes, yours truly was a scout that year. I like to think I survived that even if I had no zombies to contend with. But that is a different horror story…

Movie Reviews 277 – Strangeland (1998)

November 12, 2016

StrangelandWhen Twisted Sister hit the airwaves with their hit “We’re Not Gonna Take it” back in the mid 80’s, I didn’t think much of the group or their long frizzy haired lead singer Dee Snider. While taking a cue from other rock groups that employed exotic makeup and wardrobes as defining styles, the rouge faces and excess blue eyeshadow made them look like dolls rather than give them any desired appeal. Little more than one-hit wonders I thought, and with the sporadic output that followed, Snider and the band faded as quickly as they arrived.

So I was reluctant to pick up the Strangeland DVD when I came across it diving into DVD bins a few years back. Branded “Dee Snider’s Strangeland”, the DVD cover was interesting enough featuring a stitch-mouthed girl, but it also boasted Snider with the writer’s credit as well as the  starring role.  I chucked it into my buy bag and promptly forgot about it. Later, whenever I scanned my DVD shelves picking my next movie to watch, I just as quickly drifted over the title figuring I must have something better to watch.

Then a few months ago, I came across a new video of Snider singing a remarkably different rendition of “We’re Not Gonna Take it” as part of magician Criss Angel’s charitable venture for pediatric cancer. Now riding on low octane, his voice was in top form. But more impressive was that Snider was imparting an older, wiser, poised, concerned look. He sure has come along a long way I thought. Which got me to thinking about this movie on my shelves.

While not a remarkable movie, Strangeland does have a few things going for it and yes, Snider is one of them. Snider plays the role of “Captain Howdy”, the online alias he uses to lure young men and women to his den of torture and degradation.  When Captain Howdy makes the mistake of luring a cop’s daughter, her dad, detective Gage (Kevin Gage) manages to track him down and bring him in and even save her.

But Carlton Hendricks, Captain Howdy’s real name, is declared insane and ends up being rehabilitated in a psychiatric hospital only to be released a few years later as a weak, quiet and sedate, even fearful of retribution citizen which. This displeases not only Gage but many other locals as well, and it’s those locals led by a particularly overbearing redneck (Robert Englund) decide to take matters into their own hand. This is when Gage, sitting in his car in front of Hendrick’s house turns a blind eye to the deed. Hendricks is beaten, hauled to a hangman noose and left for dead. Instead of ending the nightmare, this leads to the resurrection of “Captain Howdy”, now worse than ever and with revenge in his blood.

Dee deftly plays the role of the psychopath Captain Howdy whose physique is heavily adorned with ‘body art’ and other artistic modifications. The transformation between Captain Howdy, Hendricks and then back again to the Captain is jarring. And that’s one of the few problems with the film. As Hendricks, Snider is just too placid and quiet and despite the fact that he’s on medication it’s a bit unconvincing given Dee’s stature and especially given his prior Captain Howdy persona. With that and the the almost laughable Internet ‘chat’ application (yeah this was pre Internet 2.0, but still), my only other minor gripe was that the story could have used a bit more to the plot.

The gore is as the poster/DVD would suggest and does deliver the depicted scene but it’s tastefully handled (as much as such a scene can be) along with a few other scenes featuring body centric implements of torture.

The clear attraction here is Captain Howdy and I’m glad to have just learned that Snider is putting together Strangeland 2 at which point we’ll all be able to say “Howdy” once again to this Captain.

Hellmaw: Eye of Glass – Marie Bilodeau (2016)

November 2, 2016

hellmaw-eye-of-glassFor myself, there is nothing like a severed head to make me giggle in delight. But my ill mannered rejoicing usually comes in the form of slasher movie gore scenes and not in written prose. Marie Bilodeau ups the ante by not only having a severed head in her new novel Eye of Glass, but has the audacity to make the severed head one of the main characters. And just to be clear I’m not talking about some bound medical experiment like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (one of my faves, natch) but a mobile, talking, scheming noggin that gets around more than a cheap corner hustling floozy.

At the center of the story we find Cassie, a young woman trying to eke out a living as a waitress. Her life implodes the day she finds a lifeless head in an alley with nothing more than a spine attached. Only the head is Jaeda, and prankster that she is, likes to lay dormant only so that she can bound to life and scare the living crap out of unsuspecting humans. When the cops swoop in what is evidently a murder scene, the salty detective Tren calls in the resident gangly morgue technician Charles Kite to gathers up “the head” much to the chagrin of Charles who witnesses her escape and becomes equally entangled in the mystery.

A tale of a juvenile delinquent daemon alien slowly regenerating a body, but who is also almost as clueless of her origin as her two new found friends, Jaeda is the precious subject of her one time giant green caregiver as well as another fire spouting villainess. But what are the plans of these alien Araurrans and why do they all want Jaeda? Who are the members of a clandestine underground online forum that Charles has infiltrated and are just as focused on Jaeda while seeming to help Charles? With Tren one step behind Cassie and Charles, the two each have their own motives to rescue Jaeda from the evil daemons hot on her heels. Well not heels since she doesn’t have those either, but you get the picture.

This action packed adventure provides non-stop intrigue and comedy relief largely at the hands (well spine) of Jaeda. Her vertebrae operate like a Swiss army knife of tools that can be used to take down adversaries, climb walls, slither through the streets and vents, or even drive a car. All seemingly with ease (maybe not the car driving thing) as long as there is no shag carpeting which seems to be the only thing that can cramp her style.

Eye of Glass is part of the Hellmaw series of books brought to us by Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood. Greenwood has assembled a troupe of writers to form The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) and the Hellmaw series based on the daemons on a planet called Aurant will be but one of the series coming under the TEGG banner. The best part is that Bilodeau’s  Eye of Glass is only the first in the series called The Bodyless Series. I foresee more heads will be on my bookshelves in due time.

Movie Reviews 276 – Oldboy (2003)

October 28, 2016

oldboyThink you had a bad day? Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik) had a worse one. He got drunk on his daughter’s birthday, got hauled of to the police station, spent a few hours there and when he was finally released with the help of a friend, he got kidnapped before the night was over. But things got a lot worse when he woke up…

His kidnap escapade ended up being fifteen years in confinement. Fifteen years without any contact other than a tray of food being slid under the door of his small apartment looking cell. Fifteen years of wondering who his captor(s) were. Fifteen years of vowing vengeance. Fifteen years of trying to escape.

Somewhat mentally unstable with nothing more than television as a companion all those years, he finally escapes and is taken in by young store clerk Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung). After a momentary culture shock, he enjoys a brief reprieve from pain a suffering. But he no sooner begins the task of tracking his abductors that he learns his torment is far from over. He has in fact been purposefully allowed to escape. His tormentor is still breathing down his neck and the two have a cat-and-mouse game as the stakes rise.

But what are the stakes? Not satisfied with mere taunting, threats of a return to imprisonment or torture, Dae-Su isn’t even concerned with that any longer anyhow, his enemy wants much more from him. But the who and why are for Dae-Su to puzzle out. When the truth is revealed, Dae-Su only then comprehends the form of his punishment.

Oldboy is the ultimate revenge movie, the final reveal being something much worse than Dae-Su’s imprisonment. He should be so lucky.

While the violence and action sequences are what propel the movie, the pathos takes over with the truth at the end. Not a movie that you’re going to forget any time soon.

I had mixed feelings for director Park Chan-wook’s Thirst, but he knocks it out of the park (pun intended) here. He considers Oldboy as part of a ‘vengeance’ trilogy that includes his films Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance, the features he directed respectively before and after Oldboy. Going to have to keep an eye out for these as well.

Movie Reviews 275 – Konga (1961)

October 23, 2016

konga

Konga! King Kong’s British cousin. Well immigrant British cousin anyway since he was brought to London from Uganda by his keeper, Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough who most will recognize as Alfred, Batman’s butler in the movies of the 80’s and 90’s). Decker has just returned from the remote jungle after surviving a plane crash and then living with a tribe there for another year. But Decker’s lengthy stay had more to do with research of a particular nature than being lost in the jungle. There he learned secrets from a medicine man that he hopes will put him at the top academia and nobody is going to stop him from fame and fortune. And the key to his secret lies in Konga the little cute chimp he brought back along with a few bizzare plants.

He immediately sets up his old laboratory at home a resumes teaching genetics at the university, but his focus remains primarily on the variety of oversized carnivorous plants that now grow in his greenhouse. Lucky for him his infatuated secretary Margaret (Margo Johns) kept up the lab all this time despite the rest of the world having given up on him when they first learned of the crash with no sign of survivors.

Decker explains to Margaret how he can produce an extract from his new plants to both increase the size of animals and make them subservient to suggestions and commands. He begins injecting Konga who starts to grow before our very eyes.  But Dr. Decker does have a few problems.

The first problem is that the university dean isn’t to happy with Dr. Deckers outlandish claims in a radio interview and no longer wants him around. Since Decker needed to ‘prove’ Konga’s subservience he decides it convenient to sick the now Gorilla sized ape on his ungrateful boss. As luck would have it, Decker suddenly finds himself in this kind of a situation on more than one occasion, each problem being ‘solved’ by Konga. Margaret isn’t to happy with all this but corners Decker into a promise of marriage and she seems to be OK with all the killing after that.

But despite pledging to marry Margaret, the lecherous  Decker also has his sights on a particularly buxom student of his who shows promise both as a future scientist and as bedmate half his age. Konga once again comes to the rescue, disposing of the jealous male student who also had his eyes set on the young wench. But when Margaret learns of Decker’s attempt at the tryst and his true feelings for her she gives Konga one last boost of the growth juice which leads to the inevitable final gargantuan rampage in London with Big Ben substituting for the Empire State Building.

The special effects are laughable, especially the filming of the Konga’s growth spurts, but you’ll get a kick out of the exotic cannibal plant life growing in Decker’s lab. The substitution of dolls in lieu of bodies in Konga’s gigantic hands are ridiculously evident. Couldn’t they have gotten  Barbie and Ken dolls instead of those cheap baby dolls with oversized heads? Seriously, it would have been an improvement. And someone please explain to me how Konga manages to change from a chimpanzee to a gorilla as he grows up.

Throughout all the rampaging and killing, nary a drop of visible blood is spilt as far as the viewing audience is concerned. No, the only bloody scene comes at the expense of Decker’s poor kitty in the most ruthless and ghastliest sequence in the movie.

So kitty lovers beware! Ape lovers only have to worry about lack of good taste.

Movie Reviews 274 – Squirm (1976)

October 19, 2016

Squirm posterMy first encounter with the movie Squirm was not on the big screen. Nor was it late night viewing on TV. Not VHS (or Beta if you were one of those) or a DVD like the one I just watched.  Nope. My first encounter with Squirm was reading the cheap paperback novelization of the movie back the summer it first came out. While it did have a few photos on the back cover (and perhaps a few more inside) I had to imagine the horrific passages in my juvenile brain. As easily influenced as I was it was satisfying. But it’s taken me forty years to actually watch the movie.

When the horror scene got tired of the multitude of Frankenstein and Dracula gothic movies of the 60’s they turned to insects for a brief period in the mid 70’s. With movies like Phase IV (ants), It Happened at Lakewood Manor (more ants), The Swarm (killer bees) and Bug (a glut of insects in a highly underrated TV movie Movie of the Week), Squirm was part of that insect invasion of the 1970’s. Not to be confused with the “Giant Insect” invasion of the 1950’s, the 1970’s variants set aside the behemoth growth spurts and instead wreaked havoc and fear by retaining insect minuscule size but opting for volume and bloodlust as the horrifying factors.

When city boy Mick (Don Scardino) decides to visit love interest Geri (Patricia Pearcy) for a vacation at her Georgia coastal town home, his arrival coincides with a thunderous storm the night before that knocks out power to the small town of Fly Creek. With broken power lines dangling over toppled pylons, the electrical arcs release their current into the ground and the worms (and centipedes, millipedes and a few other elongated arthropods) suddenly gather and start picking off the residents.

Mick is the first to clue in but as an outsider that has already earned the ire of the local sheriff he and Geri have no chance of having the authorities believe them. Sunlight seems to keep the buggers (pun intended) at bay, but how long can they last as night approaches?

One of the coolest effects is seeing worms digging into the face of one of the characters as he writhes in pain. Very effective considering this was way before any CGI was even available. So good in fact that the character that gets them eating his face somehow doesn’t die like all the other victims but manages to keep those critters oozing from his face the better part of the movie. I didn’t mind as it kind of made up for some of the other scenes where the bulk, if not the entirety, of the worm masses were clearly fake rubber strings or perhaps even spaghetti (not spaghettini.. to thin). Another effect for which the audience anticipation is slowly is built up is the inevitable rain of worms coming through a shower spigot to land on some unsuspecting soiled subject below. The finale wherein an entire house succumbs to the slimy invaders was also pretty impressive.

For a low budget American International film, the effects and even close up video footage of a few real insects are pretty impressive and even gag inducing. I even learned that there are some real fanged worms that look pretty menacing up close. So move over giant insectoid and score one for the little guys. I’d just forego the pasta entrées while you watch.

My one regret is that my slipcover of the MGM DVD release does not feature the gloriously detailed slithering design of the movie poster shown here, opting instead for a out-of-focus still of that infested face from the movie. Wish I had that poster.

Movie Reviews 273 – Planet of the Vampires (1965)

October 12, 2016

planet-of-the-vampires

Italian director Mario Bava will always best be remembered by his horror classics (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath) and his giallo movies (Blood and Black Lace).  But he also made an impression with Planet of the Vampires, an offbeat SF cult favorite featuring a cast of finely coiffed actors that would be just as well suited to parade a catwalk in Paris or make the cover of GQ.

Our tight leather wearing space farers are part of a two ship team of explorers set on determining the origin of a mysterious signal emanating from a volcanic planet. There they encounter a mind controlling race of aliens who have been seeking a means of escaping their planet and dying solar system. The aliens use their mind control to pit the newcomers against themselves and also to resurrect the bodies of the dead once killed by their peers. The newcomers even find evidence of this tactic in the forms of the skeletal remains of another giant humanoid race that also evidently fell for the beacon trap. If this sounds familiar it is because this is essentially the same plot as James Cameron’s Alien, only this was filmed a dozen years earlier and on a much skimpier budget. And in Italian.

Once the intentions of the mind controlling aliens has been divulged a silly game of cat-and-mouse is played out as the aliens and crew fight over a “Meteor Rejector” needed to safely escape the planet. I couldn’t help thinking about Marvin the Martian every time I heard “Meteor Rejector”. In the end the ship does escape but there is a great twist ending that salvages much of the puerile cliché “Our sun is dying and we need to escape” plot.

Visually Terrore Nello Spazio’s (Italian title) cinematography is a kaleidoscope of bright primary colors that is sure to please. Some odd choices in filming (excluding the aforementioned tight leather space suits) are fight scenes that are both perceptively sped up and slowed down for effect. Scant on special effects, the few that are there are decent enough.

Notably, Ib Melchior writer of the underrated Robinson Crusoe on Mars and the overrated The Angry Red Planet co-wrote the screenplay. Overall, this is your average American International, B grade movie. I just wish they’d muss up the perfect doos at least in the fight scenes. I was rooting for the evil aliens for that fact alone.

Movie Reviews 272 – The Wasp Woman (1959)

September 30, 2016

The Wasp Woman

I was overdue for watching a schlocky B-Movie so I turned to the master himself and picked Roger Corman’s The Wasp Woman off my shelves.

Bee researcher Dr. Zinthrop (Michael Mark) has just been fired for researching wasp enzymes and how the can be used to rejuvenate rats and other small animals instead of ways of making Honey Bees more productive for his employers who run hives. At just about the same time, aging makeup magnate Janice Starlin‘s (Susan Cabot) company finds itself in the doldrums with declining sales which coincided with her decision to take her portrait off of their merchandise. The company’s descent is just one more worry on top of her burgeoning fear of  aging and no longer capable of being model face for her own company. So when Zinthrop, desperate for a job shows Janice some of his lab marvels she immediately hires him and gives him carte-blanche to continue his research.

Zinthrop finally completes his research and Janice insists she be the first recipient for the concoction. It takes a while but when the rejuvenation effects finally kick in they are nothing short of miraculous. With her own employees marveling at her transition she is not only flying on cloud nine with her looks, but puts the company on a path that will revolutionize the makeup industry and will make Starlin enterprises a fortune.

But this is not a soap opera we’re watching but a horror movie called the The Wasp Woman so something’s gotta give. For starters, one of Zinthrop’s test animals, a cat, has suddenly grown oversized tumours on it’s back and has gone feral, attacking him in the lab. Still reeling and in a bit of panic he rushes out the building but gets struck down by a car on the street. He survives, but is in a bad shape. As he groggily regains consciousness he vaguely recalls that he has some important message to deliver but for the life in him can’t remember what it was.

Too bad, since Janice was not only taking the small doses Zinthrop was administering her, but she’s gotten a bit impatient with the slow progress and has been secretly boosting herself. The predictable result is that she occasionally turns into a BEM (Bug Eyed Monster) and starts sucking victims dead around the office.

The effects are cheesy to say the least and Janice’s ‘Wasp’ look is hoot.albeit nothing like to enticing movie banner. However the movie does have its charms. The drama unfolds largely from the point of view of Janice’s aide Mary (Barboura Morris), her boyfriend Bill (Fred Eisley) the firm’s marketing man, and pipe smoking board member Arthur Cooper (William Roerick) who tries to figure out Zintrhop’s game from the very start. Their water cooler sleuthing is all quite silly but nothing like to flighty banter we get to enjoy from two girls in the secretarial pool who seem to just sit around and talk all day.

Look of for a short cameo appearance by Corman himself who looks incredibly young as a doctor checking out Zinthrop after his accident. I just wonder if Corman was taking some sort of rejuvenating serum. Hmm.…