From the DVD case: A hypnotist resurrects a prehistoric female creature to kill his enemies. (1956, b&w)
Mark says: During the opening scene, watch the dog that barks at Dr. Lombardi. That dog’s acting is the best performance you will see in this movie.
OK, I’m being overly unkind, and I don’t want to give the impression that I did not find The She-Creature an entertaining movie, because I certainly did. Despite the lousy acting, the absurd plot, and a rather ridiculous monster, I found this movie has a certain kitsch charm that B movie aficionados cherish.
Chester Morris (of the old Boston Blackie films) plays Dr. Carlo Lombardi, a hypnotist specializing in age regression. Dr. Lombardi is so skilled in his craft that he can take his assistant back through her previous lives. This aspect of the film was obviously inspired by The Search for Bridey Murphy, both a book and film that were popular at the time.
Dr. Lombardi takes age regression one step further, though. Not only can he restore past memories, but he can actually produce the past life “in the flesh.” The She-Creature is what Lombardi describes as a “transmigration of the soul of a living woman into her first life body.” It’s a wonderful bit of hokum that is as amusing as it is absurd.
Marla English (Voodoo Woman) plays the fetching assistant, Andrea Talbott. Andrea is unhappy in her role as Lombardi’s partner, and only stays because of his hypnotic control over her. Andrea states several times that she hates Dr. Lombardi and vows to someday be rid of him. Lombardi, meanwhile, is the stereotypical villain complete with top hat, black cloak, and thin mustache. He all but twists the ends of his mustache as he plans his nefarious deeds. Lombardi, we discover, is in love with Andrea but cannot get her to return his affections, not even through hypnotism.
Lance Fuller (This Island Earth) is Dr. Ted Erickson, a “Professor of Psychic Research,” who spends his time trying to debunk Lombardi’s performances. Dr. Erickson falls in love with Andrea, and then assists her in breaking her tie with the insidious hypnotist. Fuller is an unlikely leading man, and gets a “golly-gee” expression on his face whenever Marla English enters the room in one of her tight sweaters or nearly see-through gowns.
The true star of The She-Creature is the monster itself, created and played by Paul Blaisdell. Monster fans will already know Blaisdell as the creator of the wonderful creatures in It Conquered the World, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Invasion of the Saucer Men, and others. For She-Creature, Blaisdell created a decidedly masculine monster, but to avoid confusion, he endowed the creature with some titanic, and completely laughable, breasts. This feature is not so apparent during the head-on shots, but near the end of the film, when you get some profile shots, you can not miss the creature’s buxom qualities. If you look closely, especially in the final scenes, you will also notice the She-Creature has long, stringy hair. It’s not a pretty sight, but a fine effort by Blaisdell who was probably trying to recreate the thrills of The Creature from the Black Lagoon on a much lower budget.
Fans of the genre will undoubtedly recognize other faces. Most notably, Tom Conway (I Walked with a Zombie, Cat People) plays Timothy Chappel, a tycoon interested in exploiting Lombardi’s talents for a profit. Other cast members include Cathy Downs (The Amazing Colossal Man) as Chappel’s daughter, Dorothy; Frieda Inescort (The Alligator People, The Return of the Vampire) as Mrs. Chappel, an occult enthusiast; Paul Dubov (The Atomic Submarine, Day the World Ended) as Johnny, the doomed barker; and William Hudson (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man) plays Bob, the ex-fiancé.
Though She-Creature is completely ludicrous on every level, it does hit a soft spot for fans of camp fodder. The performances, though not good, are interesting enough to carry you through the slow moments (and there are some). Rubber-suited monster buffs will not want to miss Blaisdell’s creation; it truly needs to be seen to be appreciated.
Scene to watch for: Just take a look at the way Dr. Erickson leers at Andrea when she walks from behind her dressing partition (see above, third image down). I don’t think he is making eye contact.
Line to listen for: Now on this very night, I have called her from the unknown depths of time itself. She is here. And with her coming the world will never be as it was. Neither man nor animal will be the same. This, I, Dr. Carlo Lombardi, have brought into being.
Trivia: The She-Creature costume would be used again in Voodoo Woman, with a mask created by Henry Thomas.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.