“With that thing around your neck, only the goblins would want you.”
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, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Barbara Steele Films
- Michael Reeves Films
- Witches and Wizards
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, “Michael Reeves’s debut film as director” (at the age of 21!) presents his typically harsh world where evil is the dominant force and is indestructible.” He notes that the “film is full of striking imagery”, providing clear evidence of Reeves’s talent as a director:
— but its “low budget and dubbing make it really hard to appreciate.” He also argues that while “Steele’s appearance is too brief”, she “grabs your attention”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Striking imagery
- John Karlsen as Count von Helsing
No, though any fan of Michael Reeves will undoubtedly be curious about this one.
4 thoughts on “She-Beast, The (1966)”
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.
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.
Admin: You should revisit this via the Dark Sky (USA) DVD or the Raro (USA) Blu-ray as they’re in the full 2.35:1 ratio and the film is even more impressive seen uncropped.
It’s also a 1965 film incidentally.