For those unaware this movie is an indirect remake of Roger Corman’s The Wasp Woman (1959), though it does take cues from Re-Animator (1985), with the regard of creating a serum to stay youthful forever, in other words playing to perhaps the favorite deadly sin Vanity. Some of our readers might recall reading about this film long ago in an issue of Fangoria and remember some interesting box art from its VHS release, however it’s not a bed of roses, it contains an initial good concept and yet incorporates some gothic horror meets monster movie aspects that left few puzzled and others pleasantly satisfied. Therefore, one needs to know how it started, first producer Steven D. Mackler (Deadtime Stories ) made a deal with Sony Video Software (SVS) in 1987, the VHS market had exploded so content was in demand, for a three picture deal, he found out about the screenplay Simon Nuchtern (Silent Madness ) wrote, entitled ‘Skin’ primarily done for special effects artist Ed French, and gave it to director Brian Thomas Jones. Mackler discovered Brian from a short film he did in 1984, unfortunately Jones found the script too gory and a version of The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), but with pleading to Simon he was given the opportunity to write it himself. One interesting aspect that occurred before the release the title kept changing from a working title of “Scream Queen” to “Rejuvenatrix”, before finally settling on The Rejuvenator for its video debut on October 31, 1988. After the release the intent of Jones and Mackler wanted to use the initial positive reviews to rebrand the film as a new ‘midnight movie’ SVS wanted no part of that book an extreme limited theater run to a 1-week run in New York.
The ancient desire for a “fountain of youth” likely exists in all people in some form, a quick view of commercials and store fronts of makeup, lotions all to wipe away the years and wrinkles, because of all the ‘isms’ in life ageism is by far the most crudest, casting aside or ignoring the elderly is beyond offensive. The mad doctors of the horror screen often strove to play in God’s world of creation, from Dr. Frankenstein to physical transforming via chemicals in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde; even the movie such as Se7en  noted the sin of vanity, though in The Devil’s Advocate  vanity was consider the Devil’s favorite sin.
The main plot surrounds as one knows the desire to return to a youthful life, sadly some never accept that life and time marches onward, there’s no escape from death, it is vanity that dooms so many. An aging movie star Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin (Island of Death )), has been funding for at least three years the strange research of Dr. Ashton (John McKay) and Dr. Stella Stone (Katell Pleven) of reversing the aging process, and becoming increasing frustrated with zero results. However Ashton makes a discovery that he could undo the years of age with a very special serum injection (fluid from a human brain) conducted on a lab mouse; Ruth desperate for the limelight again demands the dosage, not wanting any further trials soon becomes a young starlet once again now under the name Elizabeth Warren (Vivian Lanko). Of course all horror fans, know this never leads to any positive results, but without that we wouldn’t have a horror flick. At first everything works like a charm, however soon enough side effects emerge from serum and returns Elizabeth back into Ruth, worst each time (tiresomely repetitive), and it translates into an extreme form of body horror, as she becomes her own monster, hungry for certain brain fluids, which reminds one of The Relic . Clearly, Elizabeth shows signs of an addict, which is perhaps is a subtle reference to the drug trade which then was cocaine, she’s constantly aching for another fix, more powerful each time, but never quite achieving that lasting high of the first time. Her full drug fueled brutality shown by the end, willing to strive to any length to get her youth back.
While the film was made on a minuscule budget which some sources estimated at $250,000 on a 22-day shoot, it’s very obviously that money poured into the special effects department headed by makeup effects artist Edward French who’s work shown on C.H.U.D.  and more recently Viral  and assisted by the equally talented Bruce Spaulding Fuller, this was his first horror flick, since then worked on several others including At the Devil’s Door , they made sure to create a beautiful, but gross goo-slimy monster. The screenplay shows some care for the characters their depth and conflicts, which is very refreshing in a low budget horror movie, however the storyline conveys a predictable foreshadowing and obvious plot direction, along with questionable acting skills in the secondary roles. The set designers and dressing work made believable science labs, which later doubled for Jacob’s Ladder , and then incorporated a heavy metal band, Poison Dolly (which featured all women) and contributed two songs exclusively to the film entitled “Turn Out the Lights” and “Nice Boy”.
This definitely isn’t on many fans lists, it’s a tad obscure, overlooked but contains a fair amount of gross-out scenes for those not up on their body-horror and carving something from the late 80’s. It shows its love and influence of Re-Animator, but also displays the perils of using questionable research to enhance vanity like that in a long forgotten movie, except to b-movie lovers entitled The Wasp Woman (1959). This flick takes many scenes in a serious tone, by delivering blood splatter and a nice facial.
A vision of beauty born in hell.
The Fountain Of Youth For The Living Dead.
IMDb rating: 5.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10
Remake of The Wasp Woman (1959)
No trailer can be found at this time so maybe a viewing of the full length movie: