23 September 2014

The She-Beast (1966)
79 min.
Directed by Michael Reeves.
With Barbara Steele, Ian Ogilvy, John Karlsen, Mel Welles, Lucretia Love, Richard Watson, Jay Riley, Edward B. Randolph.
In a small village in 18th century Romania, the local townspeople catch an evil witch named Vardella and drown her in a nearby lake.

Flash forward to the present: Philip (Ogilvy) and Veronica (Steele) - a newly married British couple - are spending their honeymoon travelling through the area.

The couple's car crashes into the same lake where Vardella has lain buried for over two centuries, and then things really begin to get weird.

Philip escapes alive, but Veronica goes missing.

Meanwhile, the malevolent Vardella has returned from her watery grave...and she's determined to get bloody revenge on the descendants of the natives who killed her the first time.

Has Vardella switched souls with poor Veronica? Can Philip and the eccentric witchhunter von Helsing (Karlsen) stop Vardella's rampage of terror?

An Italian-British co-production, She-Beast is better than it has a right to be.

Genre queen Steele only appears in roughly 20 minutes of its running time, there's just a tad too many moments of comic relief, and there's an agonizingly long chase scene near the climax.

Still, many of the weak points of She-Beast are redeemed by the screen presence of Vardella; her witch makeup is creepy, her shrieking cackles and lightning bolt movements make for an effective villainess here.

Never boring, She-Beast is solid matinee fun. And it would be La Steele's last Italian horror outing.

Also known as Revenge of the Blood Beast.

Italian: La sorella di Satana.

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