Friday night at the home drive-in: The She-Creature (1956)

Poster for The She-Creature (1956)The She-Creature (1956) by #EdwardLCahn
w/ #ChesterMorris #CathyDowns #MarlaEnglish

A hypnotist reverts a woman into a prehistoric sea monster.

“It can and did happen! Based on the authentic FACTS you’ve been reading about!”

“I can transport her from what she is to what she was.”

#Horror #SciFi

Legend has it that Peter Lorre was so appalled by the script for The She-Creature (1956) that he immediately fired his agent for trying to convince him to play a part in it. I have no idea if this is true, but it’s a great story – and perhaps a great introduction to this somewhat lesser known monster movie from 1956. 

I had never seen The She-Creature (1956), and I’m not sure if I’d ever heard of it. It’s hard to say, because the title reminds me of other films like She Demons (1958) – which I wrote about a few weeks back – and She Freak (1967) – which I wrote about a couple of years ago (has it really been that long…? More like a year and ten months…).

I guess I really had no idea what to expect from The She-Creature – and I can honestly say that it surprised me. It’s not quite like any other monster movie from the 1950s. It’s not about radiation causing a bug – or a person – to grow to gigantic proportions. It’s not about a science experiment gone wrong. In some ways it feels like a much more modern idea; hypnosis used to cause a woman to regress to a former lifetime – and life form – that of a giant pre-historic sea monster. She doesn’t physically transform into the monster, but rather an invisible manifestation of the monster somehow comes out of her subconscious (and out of the ocean) and attacks people on the shore (or something like that). 

It sounds silly, and perhaps it is, but it somehow kind of works. It was inspired by a best-selling book called The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernsteinwhich is about hypnotism and was also made into a movie in 1956. The book, and movie, is about a woman regressing to a former lifetime, that of a 19th century Irish woman. I suppose that Samual Z. Arkoff figured the story would have been even better if the woman had regressed all the way back to pre-historic times and become a sea monster (and who can really blame him?).

The She-Creature is about the power of the mind, and it becomes a battle of the wills between the woman, Andrea, played by Marla English, and the hypnotist, Dr. Lombardi, played by Chester Morris. Also involved in the psychological struggle is Dr. Erickson, played by Lance Fuller, who is skeptical about Dr Lombardi’s abilities at first – and then later concerned about what he is doing to Andrea.

The She-Creature (1956) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that doesn’t get a lot of love from critics or audience members. It rates a 3.8 on the IMDb, and was mostly panned when it came out. However, there is something I find utterly charming about it. I love the fact that it deals with the psychological inner monster, although (eventually) in a very outward physical way. I also give it points for originality – even though it may have been a direct rip off of a book. When we finally do see the monster in its physical form, the creature design by Paul Blaisdell is a delight to behold – and I for one would be happy to see it again on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.