Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 24th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: UK / Italy, 1966
Director: Michael Reeves
Writers: Michael Reeves, Charles B. Griffith
Cast: Barbara Steele, John Karlsen, Ian Ogilvy, Mel Welles, Jay Riley, Richard Watson, Edward B. Randolph, Peter Grippe, Lucretia Love, Tony Antonelli, Kevin Welles, Woody Welles
DVD released: April 28th, 2009
Approximate running time: 79 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono English
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
The She-Beast was directed by Michael Reeves, who would die tragically of a drug overdose in 1969. In his all too brief career Michael Reeves would also direct The Sorcerers (1967) and Witchfinder General (1968). The screenplay for The She-Beast was co-written by Charles B. Griffith who is most known for his work with director Roger Corman on such films like A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and The Wild Angels. The She-Beast was co-produced by Paul Maslansky whose other notable credits include Circle of Iron and the Police Academy films. The score for the U.S. version of The She-Beast was composed by Ralph Ferraro (Flesh Gordon), while the score for the UK release was composed by Paul Ferris whose other notable scores include The Sorcerers, Witchfinder General, The Blood Beast Terror, Clegg and The Creeping Flesh. The score included on the Dark Sky Films DVD release is the one composed by Ralph Ferraro.
Shot on a shoe string budget The She-Beast, there are a few instances where this is most evident like the make-up for the She-Beast monster. The plot takes many familiar cliches and names from other horror films. Despite retreading familiar territory the plot is a fun romp that manages to remain engaging throughout its duration. One of the more endearing things about The She-Beast is its quirky dialog. Visually the film is a well made production that is only lacking during its day for night shots. The most memorable moment visually is film’s opening sequence of the witch being drowned by the locales. The film’s anticlimactic ending feels rushed. One bright spot about the ending is the final line of dialog spoken by Barbara Steele.
Performance all of the cast are very good in their respective roles with the film’s standout performance coming from Mel Welles (Lady Frankenstein), in the role of Ladislav Groper, a pepping tome motel owner. The film’s three leads are Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Castle of Blood, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½) and Ian Ogilvy (The Sorcerers, Witchfinder General), as the newlyweds and John Karlsen (What?, Fellini’s Casanova), in the role of Count von Helsing. Another performance of note is an actress named Lucretia Love (A Whisper in the Dark, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats), who is cast in the role of Ladislav Groper’s niece. Ultimately The She-Beast is a flawed film that is most remembered because of the participation of actress Barbara Steele who steals very scene she appears in. If you a fan of Barbra Steele or Gothic horror film’s then The She-Beast should be right up your alley.
Dark Sky Films presents The She-Beast in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This DVD release marks the first time that The She-Beast is presented on DVD in its original aspect ratio. The source materials used for this DVD release 35mm vault materials are in very good shape with only a few minor instances of print damage. Colors look vibrant and nicely saturated. Flesh tones look natural / healthy. Details look sharp and black levels remain strong throughout. There are no problems with compression or artifacts. This DVD has been flagged for progressive playback.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Outside of some minor instances of background the audio sounds clear and balanced. Removable English subtitles have been provided that are easy to read and follow.
The main extra included with this release is an audio commentary with producer Paul Maslansky, actor Ian Ogilvy and actress Barbara Steele. This audio commentary is moderated by David Gregory. Occasionally the participants go of course discussing other subjects not related to the film. The audio commentary starts without Barbara Steele who comes in at the fourteen minute mark. Barbara Steele only worked one day on the film so her recollections are minimal. This is a well rounded audio commentary that does a good job giving a thorough overview about the making of The She-Beast. The other extra included with this release is a stills gallery with 18 images (lobby cards, stills, posters). Overall Dark Sky Films gives The She-Beast a definitive DVD release, highly recommended.