She-Beast, The (1966)

“With that thing around your neck, only the goblins would want you.”

Synopsis:
A newlywed (Barbara Steele) vacationing in communist Transylvania disappears into a lake, and emerges as the 18th century vampiric witch Vardella. Her husband (Ian Ogilvy) must enlist the help of Count von Helsing (John Karlsen) to bring his wife back to life.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this campy Italian horror film is full of “striking imagery” but suffers unduly from a low budget, distracting dubbing, and hammy acting. It’s most notable as cult director Michael Reeves’s solo film debut at the age of twenty-one!

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some striking imagery, which provides clear evidence of Reeves’s emerging talent as a director
    Hammer and Sickle2
  • John Karlsen as the professor-ish Count von Helsing
    von Helsin

Must See?
No, though any fan of Michael Reeves will undoubtedly be curious about this one.

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2 Responses to “She-Beast, The (1966)”

  1. Recently I’ve been corresponding and chatting on-line with Charles B. Griffith, who was the second unit director on this film. I suspect he had an uncredited hand in the script too, considering that it has much more humour in it than Reeves later films. I’ll have to ask him about that. He said that Reeves was a great guy and they were good drinking buddies.

  2. A must.

    I knew I’d seen this before but couldn’t remember much about it – maybe because it did look very low budget and the dubbing may indeed have been distracting. (Having just seen it again, I don’t find that the acting is hammy, however.)

    The only other two films Reeves made – ‘The Sorcerers’ and ‘Witchfinder General’ – are better (and remarkable) films, for sure. But their feverish root is very much in evidence in ‘She-Beast’ – so it’s instructive and satisfying to absorb the three films as a trilogy.

    It is certainly kind of amazing to think ‘S-B’ was made by a 21-year-old. Some of the imagery is staggering. (I’m thinking specifically of the early scene in which villagers unite to rid themselves of the witch.) And even tho the film works rather well as horror – there’s simultaneously a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek quality to it (not only in some of the dialogue, but note the occasional playfulness in the soundtrack) that tells the audience, “Just kidding here, folks.” A bit of an early Sam Raimi feel, in a way.

    I personally very much wonder what Reeves would have come up with had he lived. (Wikipedia tells us of the coroner’s report; that his overdose couldn’t have been with suicidal intent due to the dosage.) Here’s a pure example of a real talent and visionary leaving too soon.

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