She Devil (1957) – Friday Night At The Home Drive-In

Poster for She Devil (1957)She Devil (1957) by #KurtNeumann
#MariBlanchard #JackKelly

Doctors save a dying woman with an experimental formula.

“GORGEOUS DEMON! They created an inhuman being who destroyed everything she touched!”

“The woman they couldn’t kill!”

#Horror #SciFi

I can’t resist movies with titles like She Freak (1967), She Demons (1958), She-Monster  (1957), The She Creature (1956), and The Astounding She-Monster (1957). So how is it that I’d never seen She Devil (1957) before last week? This question becomes all the more bewildering when, upon watching the film, I discovered that it’s an absolute delight. It’s the most fun I’ve had at the home drive-in in weeks, I dare say.

Oh sure, you might counter. But you’re a She-movie aficionado. Is it really essential viewing for the rest of us? 

Let me tell you a bit about it, and maybe you can be the judge of that for yourself…

Based on a Story by Stanley G. Weinbaum

Stanley G. Weinbaum was a very promising science fiction writer who died far too young, at age 33. His stories were much admired by people like H.P. Lovecraft and Lester del Rey. His writing was said to be groundbreaking, in that he may have been the first science fiction writer to create a believable alien character that had its own way of thinking; clearly not human, but sympathetic. This was in his short story A Martian Odyssey.  

She Devil (1957) is based upon a story that Weinbaum wrote under the pen name John Jessel called The Adaptive UltimateIt was first published in the November 1935 issue of Astounding magazine, and later in many collections  It was also adapted several times for radio and television, before finally becoming a movie in 1957.

So, the makers of She Devil had a solid base to build upon; a good story by a great writer (or at least a writer who would have undoubtedly become great if he had lived longer). 

Directed by Kurt Neumann

She Devil was directed by the guy who made The Fly (1958) and Kronos (1957). Okay, maybe Kronos isn’t quite the classic that The Fly is, but it’s still pretty cool. In fact, She Devil was released as a double feature with Kronos. That would have been a great night at the drive-in! He also made a few Tarzan movies, including one called Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953). Hmmm… I’ve never considered myself to be a huge Tarzan fan, but She-Devil...? I may have to check that one out…

So what’s She Devil all about?

Well… A doctor develops a serum from fruit flies (Fruit Flies! Is this a pre-cursor to The Fly?) which can heal animals of all kinds of problems. He decides to try it on a human being – a woman who is terminally ill and has no chance of living anyway – and, lo and behold, there’s a problem. Who’d have thought?

The woman is miraculously cured – but she becomes something… evil.. or perhaps just amoral. She takes what she wants however she can get it – and she doesn’t care what she has to do to other people. It’s almost a serious drama in some ways, but it’s also a totally awesome psychological science fiction horror film.

So what’s the verdict for She Devil?

She Devil (1957) is a lost gem of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It’s almost too good to be labelled as such, but not quite. And the fact that it’s largely forgotten helps to prevent it from being a legitimate classic. Mari Blanchard is amazing as the good and evil Kyra Zelas. Blanchard is mainly remembered as a B-movie femme fatale – She played a Venusian queen, Allura, in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) – one of my childhood favouritesand she is the perfect drive-in movie sex goddess. She died far too young, at age 47.

All things considered, I hope to revisit She Devil (1957) many times in the years to come, It’s a movie that could heat up any frozen mid-winter #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.