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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.
This article is missing information about the film's theatrical/home media release, and legacy. (April 2018)
|The She Creature
|Edward L. Cahn
|Frederick E. West
Golden State Productions
|American International Pictures
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. Blaisdell nicknamed the monster "Cuddles". The costume was eventually destroyed in a flood that hit his Topanga Canyon home in 1979.
This article needs an improved plot summary. (March 2018)
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.
- Chester Morris as hypnotist Dr. Carlo Lombardi, a mad scientist
- Tom Conway as showman Timothy Chappel
- Cathy Downs as Dorothy Chappel (Timothy's daughter)
- Lance Fuller as Dr. Ted Erickson
- Ron Randell as Police Lt. Ed James
- Frieda Inescort as Mrs. Chappel
- Marla English as Andrea Talbott
- Frank Jenks as plainclothes sergeant
- El Brendel as Olaf, the butler
- Paul Dubov as Johnny
- William Hudson (credited as Bill Hudson) as Bob
- Flo Bert as Marta
- Jeanne Evans as Mrs. Brown
- Kenneth MacDonald as Police Doctor
- Jack Mulhall as Dr. Lombardi's lawyer
- Spike as King the family dog
- Paul Blaisdell as The She-Creature
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.
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.
Edward L. Cahn persuaded his old actor friend Edward Arnold to star 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. This was Ron Randell's first film in America in a number of years.
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.
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. 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.
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". 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". 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". Dennis Schwartz from Ozus' World Movie Reviews awarded the film a grade of C, calling it "Amusing hokum".
- Weaver, Tom (January 1, 2002). Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers. McFarland. pp. 123–126. ISBN 9780786411757.
- Palmer, Randy (2009). Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786440993.
- "Drama: Actor Arnold Signs for 'She Creature'". Los Angeles Times. Apr 25, 1956. p. 34.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p54-56.
- Vagg, Stephen (August 10, 2019). "Unsung Aussie Actors – Ron Randell: A Top Twenty". Filmink.
- Sindelar, Dave (May 10, 2015). "The She-Creature (1956)". FantasticMovieMusings.com. Dave Sindelar. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
- "The She-Creature – Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Guide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
- "Cinema Insomnia, with your Horror Host, Mister Lobo! – Show Information". Archived from the original on March 28, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.