Janice Starlin (Cabot), the founder and owner of a large cosmetics company, is disturbed when her firm's sales begin to drop, which the board of executives blames on the fact becoming apparent to her customer base that she is aging. She is approached by Dr. Zinthrop, who was fired from his job at a honey farm for experimenting with wasps: Zinthrop has been able to extract enzymes from the royal jelly of the queen wasp that can reverse the aging process. Janice agrees to fund further research, at great cost, provided she can serve as his human subject. But Zinthrop becomes aware that the experiment has some terrible side effects, and is too late to warn Janice...
A remake of the film was made in 1995, starring Jennifer Rubin.
This film features examples of:
- Alas, Poor Villain: After Janice's Driven to Suicide moment in the remake, the characters lament her lost beauty.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: Cinematic Titanic riffed the original in 2008.
- Artistic License Ė Biology: Zinthrop's wonder treatment is made from the royal jelly of queen wasps— but wasps don't make royal jelly.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Janice.
- Covers Always Lie: When she transforms into the Wasp Woman, Janice has the head and hands of a wasp but the body of a woman — which is exactly the opposite of the creature shown on the film's theatrical release poster.
- Creator Cameo: Roger Corman appears as a doctor who treats Dr. Zinthrop after his car accident.
- Destination Defenestration: The eventual fate of Janice; a character uses a chair to push her out of a window, killing her.
- Driven to Suicide: After Alec rejects her monstrous form in the remake, Janice's humanity reawakens long enough to allow herself to be destroyed by a stick of dynamite that was thrown at her, even tossing it into a crate full of more sticks just to be sure it works.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Janice becomes a half-human, half-wasp hybrid.
- Herr Doktor: Dr. Zinthrop has a German accent.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Janice devours several people during transformations.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The first sign for Dr. Zinthrop that something is seriously wrong with the experiments is when he finds a cat he applied the jelly on has become a cat-wasp hybrid.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: Due to a side-effect of an anti-aging formula, Janice occasionally turns into a murderous wasp/human hybrid.
- Vanity Is Feminine: Justified variant #3. Janice was the face of the company. As she aged out of being a cover model, sales fell. When Dr. Zinthrop's formula seems to work and she retakes her former position, sales rise again.
- Wicked Wasps: Janice is turned into a monstrous wasp-human hybrid as a result of the experiments of a Mad Scientist who was fired from his previous job at a honey farm for his experiments with wasps.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: Zinthrop's first boss is shown proof of the efficacy of his royal jelly formula... And fires him anyway, because he was using wasps instead of bees. This is ultimately for the best, but no one knew the side effects at this point.