15 of the most interesting female monsters in fiction

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10. The mad scientist

For all that horror movies love a mad scientist, very few are women. Certainly, in the world of B-horror, those odds go even lower. And, if you find yourself in the very particular subset of 1950s and 1960s B-horror, you might as well be looking for a solid gold unicorn.

But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And, if you’re really determined and have a high tolerance for pseudo-scientific silliness, there’s always The Wasp Woman.

Be prepared for some casual but pervasive sexism, however. That makes The Wasp Woman an interesting topic for conversation (seriously), but not a great role model for, well, anyone.

It all starts when Janice Starling, the founder and owner of a cosmetics company, begins to age. Far from accepting it as a natural part of being human, she starts to freak out. It appears that her visible aging (the horror!) is causing her company’s value to drop precipitously. She teams up with scientist Eric Zinthrop and offers herself up as a test subject. Starling hopes that the royal jelly from a queen wasp will help her de-age.

The horror of beauty

Unbelievably, the process works. However, it’s too slow for Starling, who starts to ingest the royal jelly serum at astonishing rates. She drops years off her age but also starts to transform into a murderous wasp creature. You know, just like any anti-aging serum from the drugstore if you go too hard with it.

Of course, the people around Starling decide that she is too dangerous. Zinthrop throws a bunch of carbolic acid in her face, followed by her fall from a high window. It’s significant that it’s her face that is damaged. Even more significant is the fact that the monstrous woman at the heart of The Wasp Woman suffered most from the societal pressure to be young and attractive. From her cosmetics company to her growing anxiety about her looks, Starling is a female monster that is more to be pitied than reviled.