The She-Beast (a.k.a. Revenge of the Blood Beast)
by Jef Burnham
Available on DVD from Dark Sky Films on April 28, 2009.
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The latest DVD release of The She-Beast has a sight more to offer than any of the myriad of versions out there. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio from a new transfer from 35mm “vault materials,” and features an exclusive commentary track with the film’s star, 60s horror queen Barbara Steele, actor Ian Ogilvy, and producer Paul Maslansky.
Some time in 18th Century Transylvania, a group of villagers kills a she-beast, who has been killing children. The she-beast places a curse on the village that she will one day return to haunt their descendants. Skip forward a couple centuries and a newlywed couple (Barbara Steele, who admits in the commentary that she has no recollection of working on the picture, and Ian Ogilvy) and the descendant of the Van Helsing become somehow involved in all this and then a lot of nothing happens for a while. But once things start moving, Fritz Van Helsing sedates our villain and we’re back to the stagnancy of the first half of the film.
As you may have gathered, The She-Beast is a bad movie. But it is one of those movies that is so bad, it’s funny— except when they’re trying to be funny, and then it’s just bad. The movie’s title baddie doesn’t appear in the modern storyline until about halfway through the movie, and even then spends most of the time, either sleeping or, as I’ve already mentioned, sedated (you’d be amazed how much of it, the She-Beast spends sedated). There’s also an inexplicable, half-assed attempt at recreating a Keystone Cops bit during what should be the dramatic chase sequence, and much of the screen time is devoted to a vile, pervert innkeeper who has little to nothing to do with anything.
For me, some of the funniest moments are in the lighting: Now, we’ve all seen films emulate the light coming off of a television with flickering blue lights, but when they try it here, the light is not even blue and the flicker is not so much a flicker as an obviously slow-moving arm waving in front of a tungsten light. That’s pretty embarrassing, but what’s more embarrassing are the day-for-night shots, which are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Sometimes these shots are darkened slightly, but other times it’s just flat-out day—no apparent filtering at all.
Honestly, you have to like bad movies to enjoy The She-Beast. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the movies they show on Mystery Science Theater 3000 without the comic riffing, you should definitely check this one out.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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