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Deadlier than Dracula...
Wilder than Werewolf...
More frightening than Frankenstein!
A small town in 18th century Transylvania is being terrorized by an evil witch. When a child is brutally attacked, the villagers capture the fiend and sentence her to death by dunking chair, but not before she casts a curse on them and their descendants. Two hundred years later, young newlyweds Veronica (Barbara Steele, Black Sunday) and Philip (Ian Ogilvy, And Now the Screaming Starts) pass through the town on a tour of the Carpathians, only to have their car pulled into a lake by an unseen force. A passing truck driver quickly rescues two bodies from the wreck. One is Philip, battered but alive, and the other is... the witch, back from the dead to wreak havoc on the town once again! Can Philip and his newfound friend, the great grandson of Professor Van Helsing, capture the witch and bring back Veronica?
The She-Beast aka Revenge of the Blood Beast was the feature film debut of director Michael Reeves (Witchfinder General, The Sorcerers), and is presented here with a new transfer in its original Scope aspect ratio from extremely rare 35mm vault materials.
New commentary with producer Paul Maslansky and actors Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele created exclusively for this release
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The director Michael Reeves and his male leading man Ian Olgivy would make one of the finest horror films in the English language, "The Wichfinder General/Conqueror Worm," a couple of years later. "The She-Beast AKA: Revenge of the Blood Beast" was Reeves first directorial assignment. He got better, a LOT better. This first film begins with a child running through a forest, terrified. The lovely, color photography and camera work suggest this will be an interesting story.
Then the witch appears. "She's" obviously a burly male actor wearing a terrible rubber mask and rubber gloves. Her/his dress' hemline is so high you can see the actor's rugby player's legs. The monster in Joan Crawford's "Trog" was more convincing. Even if the film were well made, it couldn't recover from how ludicrous the title monster looks. And well made this film is not.
The attractive color photography and some interesting European location footage can't make up for a mendering script that can't even get it's mythologies straight. The "witch" is more like an ogre/troll/demon than an evil woman with supernatural powers. The characterizations are so shallow when Mz. Steele's character is spied on during lovemaking and later almost drowns in a lake, you STILL keep wondering when something interesting is going to happen.
The Keystone Cops-like comic "relief" as so out of place it could have been spliced in from another film. The climax is so bizarre and abrupt (though it doesn't come fast enough to avoid the rest of the film) the budget obviously ended that day and and an ending, any ending, had to be filmed before the time allowed ended.
Reeves next film "The Sorcerers," with Boris Karloff and Olgivy again, is the first film that really showed the director's promise.
Unfortunately this film has some problems plot-wise. The ending of the film is ruined by a Mack Sennet-style chase which is at odds with the rest of the film. There are some creepy scenes, but the film's low budget and its inconsistent tone make it more cult than classic. However, this DVD is highly recommened to Barbara Steele and Michael Reeves fans.