Newest Review: ... with little action and some poor acting to boot. Chester Morris is quite convincing as the shadowy showman, but glamourous co-sta... more
She creature, sea creature, she sells sea shells...oh, forget it. (Film only)
The She Creature  (DVD)
Member Name: thereddragon
The She Creature  (DVD)
Advantages: Cheesy, funny, implausible, stupid but compulsive viewing
Disadvantages: None really if you like awful 50s Sci-Fi
Chester Morris as Dr. Carlo Lombardi
Marla English as Andrea Talbott
Tom Conway as Timothy Chappel
This Science Fiction offering from 1956 combines some of my favourite 'bad film' elements: evil moustachioed stage hypnotist, female half-human-half-monster, a really poor 'reincarnation' premise, terrible wooden acting, and lovely seaside location (Malibu in this case). It has a pretty good bad-film pedigree, having been directed by Edward L Kahn who gave us such 50's gems as 'Invasion of the Saucer Men', 'Creature with the Atom Brain', and what is actually one of my fave more 'serious' 50's Sci-Fi films, 'It: The Terror From Beyond Space', which I've heard is believed to have been the inspiration for the later blockbuster movie 'Alien'.
Dr Carlo Lombardi, stage hypnotist and possessor of a superbly sinister moustache (together with such oily slicked-back hair that it positively radiates), strolls along the beach late at night impeccably dressed in suit, tie and hat. After frightening off a yapping stray dog simply by dint of his intense gaze, he goes on to find a strange large webbed footprint in the sand. We're given a closeup of his eyes as he looks around in some sort of furtively mysterious and meaningful way, before we then cut straight to the middle of some pleasant formal-dress house party. An older lady confides in one of the guests, who we learn is her husband: 'Dr Lombardi said something terrible is going to happen along this part of the coast tonight. Some visitation from the occult world!' 'Hmm, the occult world, eh,' hubby scoffs. 'Oh, really, you must meet him - he's wonderful,' wifey insists.
Hubby goes on to recount wifey's history of having a penchant for quack occultists; 'Well, so long as it amuses you,' he finishes. 'No, seriously,' she persists, 'he puts this girl into a deep trance and takes her back three hundred years, and she tells about her previous life in England. I tell you, it's uncanny'. Sounds like this Dr Lombardi must be quite a talented guy, you think?
We go off back to the beach, where we see Dr Lombardi enter and poke around in some shabby small beach house in which there is a dead man - Dr Lombardi shows no surprise or even interest in this scenario, just walks straight out again and continues on his stroll. Eventually he ends up at home, where he finds his beautiful young stage-act assistant sound asleep. He wakes her up with a creepy moustachioed kiss like a hairy and oily Prince Charming. 'You'll never leave me, you know,' he says confidently. 'As long as you're alive, I'll possess you.' 'You've taken my soul away from me', she berates him.
We soon learn that he has been hypnotically regressing her back to a previous life in which she was a sea monster (I kid you not), and that under hypnosis she actually turns into her former monstrous self, complete with scales and spiky bits. As if that wasn't bad enough, we find that he has been doing this for the purpose of having her commit murders for him, one of which we learn was the dead man we saw earlier, while under trance. We see, via various interspersed scenes, that the police have been scratching their heads over a series of so far unsolvable murders that have been taking place in the area. Dr Lombardi has been making his 'she creature' commit them so that he can enhance his prestige by convincing people that he's a real psychic rather than the charlatan he is, that he can predict the future by 'predicting' these murders before they happen - and he has the convenient alibi of being elsewhere when they occur. How are the police ever going to work out that a centuries old female sea creature has been doing these murders, at the behest of some mad dude with a dodgy moustache?
This movie is as awful as it sounds. The story is really stupid, the dialogue is really lame, and the acting as wooden as it comes (and with some of the characters, downright amateurish). Direction is so-so and the pace is pretty plodding. But, despite it all (or maybe a little because of it all), I found this quite enjoyable and compelling to watch. Its sheer cheesiness and the inclusion of so many of the silly elements I like to see in bad old films, made me want to stick with it.
'Dr Lombardi' was a satisfyingly unctuous and repulsive charlatan and I felt the actor played the part well, though without quite as much relish as I would have liked, and I would also have liked to have seen at least a bit of moustache-twirling, but no joy. Andrea the hapless unwilling she-creature looks lovely and vulnerable, as one expects such long-suffering victims of deranged madmen in these films to look, except of course when she's kitted out as the vicious sea monster.
Special effects consist of a rubbery sea monster costume that looks much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, only with boobs. In order to go travelling, the monster turns into a floating mist which looks even less convincing than the rubber suit.
If you enjoy silly lurid cheesy 1950's Sci-Fi and/or monster movies, you'll probably enjoy this. I found it a fun time-passer and would probably watch it again. It was given the honour of being shown as Episode 808 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is what my copy is, and it richly deserved all the heckling the MST3K team dished out, which did greatly enhance the experience of watching this film. So if you find a copy of the MST3K version, it's well worth seeing that one, either instead of or in addition to the original film.
Recommended as just a bit of good late-night no-brainer fun.
Also on Ciao as thereddragon.
Summary: Ridiculous movie good for an hour and a half's mirthful entertainment