Tuesday, June 23, 2009

THE SHE BEAST

In 1966, Barbara Steele appeared in another notable Eurogoth thriller, THE SHE BEAST. Notable really only for the presence of Steele and for being the first feature by cult director Michael Reeves (WITCHFINDER GENERAL), THE SHE BEAST (LA SORELLA DI SATANA) is an offbeat, rather crude effort that is, frankly, not very good. But the DVD presentation is quite entertaining in its own right, thanks to a great commentary track.

THE SHE BEAST tells the tale of a young couple on their honeymoon in communist Transylvania during the Sixties, who stop for the night in a small village. As these things go, the village is under the curse of an evil witch who was executed there in the Middle Ages, but not properly exorcised. It comes as no surprise then, that the hideous witch (a rather laughable makeup) soon possesses the young bride Veronica (Steele) and wreaks havoc on the community. It’s up to her husband Philip (Ian Ogilvy, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS) and an old man named Von Helsing (John Karlsen) to break the curse and save Veronica’s soul.

As a horror movie, it’s really not very scary at all, and the tone of the film is all over the place, with some very odd and inappropriate slapstick humor mixed in with the attempted chills.

Steele was hired for one day’s work, which stretched into 22 hours! The experience angered her so much that she didn’t speak to producer Paul Maslansky (later to produce the inexplicably popular POLICE ACADEMY series) until Dark Sky brought them together to record the commentary for this DVD. And it is this commentary, which also includes male lead Ogilvy, that really makes this film worth watching. Their frank, funny, and informative discussion of the difficulties and challenges of making the film and their memories of the tragically short-lived director are fascinating and very entertaining. It’s the only special feature on the disc, but it’s a great one.

The movie is presented in a nice, clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, color transfer, with very little age-related wear or dirt. The English soundtrack is presented in 2.0 mono. Subtitles are included.

As stated above, this release is really only recommended for Barbara Steele completists and fans of cult director Reeves.

BUY: The She-Beast