She Beast (1966)

GP   |    |  Comedy, Horror, Thriller


She Beast (1966) Poster

A newlywed English tourist and an eccentric Transylvanian Count must work together when the former's beautiful wife is made the bodily host of a horrific witch.


4.5/10
936

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  • Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)
  • Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)
  • Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)
  • Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)
  • Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)
  • Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele in She Beast (1966)

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Director:

Michael Reeves

Writer:

Michael Reeves

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User Reviews


3 January 2011 | Bunuel1976
5
| SHE BEAST (Michael Reeves, 1966) **
Michael Reeves' official directorial debut – after his stint as an assistant director on CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD (1964; his modest contribution here is, erroneously, sometimes exaggerated by his cultists) – is, likewise, an Italian production of the Horror variety. Filmed under the title of REVENGE OF THE BLOOD BEAST and officially released in Italy as SISTER OF Satan (although, LAKE OF Satan, is apparently yet another name attributed to it over there!), the film's best-known moniker is SHE BEAST – which is how it has been released on DVD, first by the budget outfit Alpha and, more recently, by the more respectable label Dark Sky Films.

Even though Reeves' entire cinematic output consists of merely four titles, he managed the enviable feat of working with one genre icon apiece: Christopher Lee in CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD, Barbara Steele in SHE BEAST, Boris Karloff in THE SORCERERS (1967) and Vincent Price in WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968), his last (and, undoubtedly, best) work. Actually, the contribution of Barbara Steele – the then-reigning 'Scream Queen' of Italian horror movies, ever since her breakthrough dual roles in (yet another legendary genre director) Mario Bava's BLACK Sunday (1960) – to the film under review amounted to just one 22-hour day of the 18-day shooting schedule; her agent at the time, David Niven Jr., only alerted her of this clause on the day before she came on the set and, although she was a trouper, Steele had a major falling-out with producer Paul Maslansky…although, judging by the cordial and lively Audio Commentary on the Dark Sky DVD, any animosity between the two has long since faded away! Joined in this discussion is the film's nominal lead and veritable Michael Reeves mascot, Ian Ogilvy; they had been schoolmates in their teenage years and Ogilvy would go on to star in all of Reeves' directorial output.

The film opens with a witch-hunting sequence that anticipates the more notorious ones in WITCHFINDER GENERAL; the victim of the 'trial by water' (or, more exactly, stake through the heart!) has to be one of the ugliest female monsters to appear on celluloid and, in fact, was actually portrayed by a colored dancer sporting heavy – and highly effective – make-up…with hideous tooth-work and shriek-laden voice to match! Incidentally, one of the actor's winding down activities on the set (according to Ogilvy) was trying to hitch rides from passing cars in full "She Beast" get-up…obviously, to the stopping drivers' eternal chagrin! The cast also includes three other moderately familiar names of the period: John Karlsen (as the modern-day eccentric witch-hunter Count Von Helsing {sic}!), Mel Welles (as a boozing lecher of an inn-keeper) and Lucretia Love (appearing – in one of two surprisingly racy scenes in the film – as an innocent villager assaulted by Welles, just before he gets his own comeuppance from the rampaging titular creature); curiously enough, the other brief spot of nudity is provided by La Steele herself, during a night-time lovemaking scene with husband Ogilvy, that is witnessed by 'peeping tom' Welles – who is subsequently beaten up within an inch of his life by the understandably incensed guest!

Apart from Welles, the American side of the production is represented by producer Maslansky and second-unit director/uncredited co-screenwriter Charles B. Griffith; film connoisseurs will immediately associate the first with the POLICE ACADEMY franchise and the second (like Welles himself) with the earlier days of the Roger Corman stable. Despite both Maslansky and Griffith having worked on some intriguing fantasy stuff (CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD itself, 1972's DEATH LINE, 1975's RACE WITH THE DEVIL and 1977's DAMNATION ALLEY, as well as two 1957 Corman productions, NOT OF THIS EARTH and THE UNDEAD respectively), unfortunately, it is their comedic vein which comes to the fore here in a truly misjudged and overstretched climactic "Keystone Kops"-type slapstick car chase (seemingly needed to pad out the running time to feature-length)! This not only involves an uncredited Maslansky himself – as one of three bumbling local cops, anticipating the similarly inept pursuing duo in Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)! – in a couple of mildly amusing pratfalls, but also the faintly surrealistic and completely illogical presence of an unknown motorcyclist that insistently reappears throughout this sequence!

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Genres

Comedy | Horror | Thriller

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