Cinematic Titanic // 2008 // 73 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // May 7th, 2010
"What about a cat?"
"They're sweet, but aloof."
I'm fairly certain that when the Lumière brothers were perfecting the motion picture camera back in the 1800s, Roger Corman had already produced thirty-five movies for approximately six dollars. The guy's one of the most prolific producers in Hollywood history, but I'd be a wooden marionette if I told you that they were all winners. The Wasp Woman, a 1959 companion (i.e. rip-off) to the '58 film The Fly, is a real stinker that's ripe for the riffing. Thankfully, the Lumière brothers' also gave an outlet to folks like Joel Hodgson, a master riffer whose newest project, Cinematic Titanic, is more than happy to rip this film a new one.
For the uninitiated, the crew of Cinematic Titanic consists of veterans from Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein. These five silhouetted jesters take to scaffolding that hugs the bottom corners of the screen and proceed to crack wise. The group started CT back in 2007, offering up a slow stream of releases and sold-out live performances. The Wasp Woman is their third release, and while it may not be as sharp as Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks it's still another strong showing from this group of pros.
The film centers around Dr. Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark, Attack of the Puppet People), a mad-ish scientist who dreams of harnessing the goo from wasps to produce a reverse-aging serum. After being fired from his tedious bee keeping gig, Zinthrop takes his wasps and their magical goo to the city and seeks out an audience with Janice Starling, the CEO of some vague cosmetic company. After a series of disturbing animal tests, Starling (Susan Cabot, Gunsmoke) immediately agrees to try the wasp serum on herself -- little does she know that an overdose of the drug will turn her into the Wasp Woman. That really just means she puts on some fuzzy gloves and an incomprehensible "wasp" mask.
It's a simple enough story that's stretched to the breaking point and still only clocks in at 73 minutes. The excessive padding, montages, and walking-around sequences would certainly be trying, if it weren't for the Titans tearing this thing to shreds. Their wit is spot-on, and the jokes are consistently funny. I always appreciate when Hodgson and Co. zero in on a specific character, creating running gags out of their mannerisms or personalities -- in this case, it's some pipe-smoking, bow-tie wearing yuppie at the cosmetic company. There were occasions when the riffs seemed to slow down, and their two "stop the movie" skits in the middle didn't really work, but overall it was a solid performance.
The Wasp Woman is another impressive entry in the series, even if it isn't as strong as later releases (that's only natural, as the cast gets into the flow of their still-growing project). If there's any true complaint to be made about the disc, it's that the film is a scant 73 minutes with no supplements. Understandably, the movie's short -- and although there are disclaimers all over the box and before the film about something being "edited," I couldn't tell you what that means -- but if this were an episode of MST3K, there would be enough shorts to boost the runtime. Since they're releasing these things straight to DVD, the movies can stand on their own without any high-concept puppetry, but it might be wise to pair them with a short film (like a PSA or another episode of General Hospital) to make briefer releases more worthwhile.
The disc itself retains the clean, black and white presentation of other releases in the series. The silhouettes are crisp and the film is adequately presented in 1.33:1 full screen. From a technical standpoint, you can't ask for much more.
It should be considered a compliment that the only true complaint I can make about this release is that there isn't enough. The Cinematic Titanic project is a well-tuned, consistently hilarious machine, run by a crew as experienced as they come. We should all thank the Lumière brothers, and Roger Corman, for providing the tools necessary to build The Wasp Woman; and then we should thank Joel Hodgson and his friends for tearing that sucker down.
Buzzzzz, not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinematic Titanic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site