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The She-Creature

This article is missing information about the film's theatrical/home media release, and legacy. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. (April 2018)
The She Creature
The She Creature FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward L. Cahn
Written byLou Rusoff
Produced byAlex Gordon
Sam Arkoff
StarringChester Morris
Marla English
Tom Conway
Cathy Downs
Paul Blaisdell
CinematographyFrederick E. West
Edited byRonald Sinclair
Music byRonald Stein
Production
company
Golden State Productions
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Release date
  • July 25, 1956 (1956-07-25)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$104,000[1]

The She-Creature, or The She Creature, is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction horror film, released by American International Pictures from a script by Lou Rusoff (brother-in-law of AIP executive Samuel Z. Arkoff). It was produced by Alex Gordon, directed by Edward L. Cahn, and stars Chester Morris, Marla English and Tom Conway, and casting Frieda Inescort and El Brendel in smaller roles. (The producers hired Marla English because they thought she bore a strong resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor.)

The monster costume was created by master make-up artist Paul Blaisdell and is considered one of his best. Parts of the costume were re-used in three later AIP films.[2] Blaisdell nicknamed the monster "Cuddles". The costume was eventually destroyed in a flood that hit his Topanga Canyon home in 1979.[3]

The film was released by AIP as a double feature with It Conquered the World.[4]

Plot

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Dr. Carlo Lombardi, an oleaginous carnival hypnotist, conducts experiments in hypnotic regression that take his unwitting female subject Andrea Talbott to a past life as a prehistoric humanoid form of sea life. He uses the physical manifestation of the prehistoric creature to commit murders.

Cast

  • Chester Morris as Dr. Carlo Lombardi: a mad scientist who hypnotises Andrea for his performances.
  • Tom Conway as Timothy Chappel: a showman who is rivals with Lombardi yet funds his hypnotic shows.
  • Cathy Downs as Dorothy Chappel: Timothy's daughter who is in an on-and-off again relationship with Ted.
  • Lance Fuller as Dr. Ted Erickson: a doctor who gets attracted to Andrea and hypnotises her.
  • Ron Randell as Police Lt. Ed James: a police officer investigating the she-creature case who is also at odds with Dr. Lombardi.
  • Frieda Inescort as Mrs. Chappel: Timothy's wife who is interested in Dr. Lombardi and his shows.
  • Marla English as Andrea Talbott: a young woman who is Carlo's subject and who later gets attracted to Ted.
  • Frank Jenks as Plainclothes Sgt.: a police officer also investigating the she-creature case.
  • El Brendel as Olaf: Timothy's butler
  • Paul Dubov as Johnny: a victim of the she-creature
  • William Hudson as Bob (as Bill Hudson): Dorothy's ex-fiancée
  • Flo Bert as Marta: one of Mrs. Chappel's friends
  • Jeanne Evans as Mrs. Brown: one of Mrs. Chappel's friends
  • Kenneth MacDonald as Police Doctor: who finds out that Andrea controls the she-creature.
  • Jack Mulhall as Lombardi's Lawyer
  • Spike as King the dog: The Chappel family's dog
  • Paul Blaisdell as the She-Creature: a monster called out and controlled by Lombardi and Andrea who kills whoever it sees.

Production

Drive-in advertisement from 1956 featuring The She-Creature with companion feature, It Conquered the World.
Drive-in advertisement from 1956 featuring The She-Creature with companion feature, It Conquered the World.

The story was inspired by the success of the best-selling Morey Bernstein book The Search for Bridey Murphy, which concerned hypnotism and reincarnation. Exhibitor Jerry Zigmond suggested this subject might make a good film, and AIP commissioned Lou Rusoff to write a script.[1]

AIP did not have enough money to entirely finance the film, so the company asked producer Alex Gordon if he could contribute the remainder. Israel Berman, a colleague of Gordon's brother Richard, knew financier Jack Doppelt, who agreed to provide $40,000 of the film's $104,000 budget.[1]

Edward L. Cahn persuaded his old actor friend Edward Arnold to star[5] for $3,000 for one week's work, and also cast Peter Lorre as the hypnotist. Arnold died two days before production began, while Peter Lorre read the script after which he immediately pulled out of the film and fired his agent for committing him to the project without consulting him first. The producer had to find a substitute cast quickly, settling on Chester Morris and Tom Conway.[6] This was Ron Randell's first film in America in a number of years.[7]

As usual, Blaisdell played the monster in every scene. Blaisdell nearly got injured when the director instructed him to smash his way through a wooden door in one of the film's action sequences, without realizing the door had been reinforced with plywood. Also in the beach scenes where the creature had to be seen emerging from the surf, Blaisdell was told to wade in up to his waist instead of his knees. The costume got so waterlogged, Blaisdell could hardly propel himself out of the water, especially with the tide working against him. Amazingly, most of this scene was later excised from the finished film due to poor quality image.

Release

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2018)

Gordon, who deferred his $2,500 producer's fee until the film returned its cost, said that the movie was profitable a year and half after its release.[1] Within a few days of finishing the film, AIP featured the She Creature costume in live appearances on several L.A. talk shows to promote the film's grand opening. Blaisdell had his best friend Bob Burns wear the suit on the TV programs, since he was too worn out himself.

Reception

Author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film 2 out of 4 stars, calling it "slow and preposterous but effectively moody, with one of Paul Blaisdell's more memorable monsters".[8] On his website Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar wrote, "There is a clever concept behind this attempt to combine the Bridey Murphy concept with a monster movie; unfortunately, a poor script and some ineffectual acting hamstring the attempt".[9] TV Guide awarded the film 1 out of 4 stars, writing, "Some interesting concepts were touched on, but quickly pushed to the background in the name of plot development, which in this case is one cliche after another".[10] Dennis Schwartz from Ozus' World Movie Reviews awarded the film a grade of C, calling it "Amusing hokum".[11]

Legacy

In 1967, American International commissioned Larry Buchanan to remake the film in color for television, retitled as Creature of Destruction.

The original film was later featured in an episode of Cinema Insomnia,[12] as well as in the eighth season of movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Weaver, Tom (January 1, 2002). Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers. McFarland. pp. 123–126.
  2. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "The She-Creature (1956)". AllMovie. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  3. ^ Palmer, Randy (2009). Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786440993.
  4. ^ McGee, Mark Thomas; Robertson, R.J. (2013). "You Won't Believe Your Eyes". Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-273-2. p. 254.
  5. ^ "Drama: Actor Arnold Signs for 'She Creature'". Los Angeles Times. Apr 25, 1956. p. 34.
  6. ^ Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p54-56.
  7. ^ Vagg, Stephen (August 10, 2019). "Unsung Aussie Actors – Ron Randell: A Top Twenty". Filmink.
  8. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. pp. 589–590. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
  9. ^ Sindelar, Dave (May 10, 2015). "The She-Creature (1956)". FantasticMovieMusings.com. Dave Sindelar. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  10. ^ "The She-Creature – Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Guide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  11. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. "She Creature". Sover.net. Dennis Schwartz. Archived from the original on May 24, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cinema Insomnia, with your Horror Host, Mister Lobo! – Show Information". Archived from the original on March 28, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.

Bibliography

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The She-Creature
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