The She-Creature (1956)

She Creature

Directed by Edward L. Cahn

Written by Lou Rusoff

Tagline: “Hypnotized! Reincarnated as a monster from hell!”

Run Time: 77 min

“A creature out of time…the first life form of someone living today…over a million years old!”
– Detective Sergeant


The She-CreatureWe open by seeing the mysterious Dr. Carlo Lombardi (Chester Morris), circus hypnotist and all around creepy-guy, walking along the beach, as all mysterious people are wont to do from time to time. As the surf breaks, Lombardi stares out to the sea and thinks to himself:

"Now on this very night, I have called her from the unknown depths of time itself. She is here. And with her coming the world will never be as it was. Neither man nor animal will be the same. This, I, Dr. Carlo Lombardi, have brought into being."

I wonder if people really mention their own names when thinking to themselves. Let me try:

"This, I, Dennis Grisbeck, have written."

Naaaaa….

Anyway, a dog runs up and barks madly. (Animals can sense evil hypnotists, you know.) Lombardi stares at the dog with "googly-eyes" and the dog flees in fear. (Hypnosis!)

Cut to a swank party. We learn via wads of exposition that a visiting professor of Psychic Research, Ted Erickson (Lance Fuller), (A Ph.D. in Psychic Research?) is doing his best to fit in with the "idle rich." Erickson and his rich hostess, Dorothy decide to go for a walk along the beach instead.

Meanwhile, Lombardi walks up to a beach house to find it has been ransacked by parties unknown. In addition to a couple of dead bodies, he also discovers odd footprints on the floor and claw marks on the walls. (Sounds like my last July 4th party…)

While Erickson and Dorothy are walking on the beach, up runs the same barking dog. The couple follows the dog back to the beach house and spot Dr. Lombardi skulking away.

Really great dialog here:

Erickson: "That looks like Dr. Lombardi."

Dorothy: "That is Dr. Lombardi!"

(Exposition 101)

Erickson peers through the open door and spots the bodies. Stunned by the bloody tableau, Erickson staggers back and has Dorothy summon the police.

Enter detectives Ed James and "Detective Sergeant" (well, that’s what IMDB credits him as being called…). Examining the bodies, Ed notes that "Her neck’s broken in two like a pile-driver hit her!" (I would think a pile-driver would squash her like a pancake, but maybe I’m splitting hairs here…)

"Detective Sergeant" (DS) suddenly notes a piece of seaweed on the carpet ("…all they way to the door." So they didn’t see a 10-foot piece of seaweed until now? Man, I’m in a bitchy mood today…too bad for this film…) They also notice that the carpet is wet. (What! A wet carpet in a beachfront home? Say it isn’t so!)

Ed fetches some flour from the kitchen and dumps it on the wet spot. (Wow, that reminds me of a crude joke that I once heard…). I would think that in a murder scene you probably would not dump flour on the floor right away. Regardless, their efforts do call forth a latent, reptilian footprint.

Puzzled by the reptilian footprints, claw marks, and dead bodies (Hello? Do you need any more clues?!) Ed decides to take Erickson over to the circus in order to identify Lombardi as the man seen leaving the murder.

Cut to Lombardi, this time strolling around a circus. We are shown a helpful poster for

"Dr. Carlo Lombardi, Author – Lecturer …. Hypnotist Extraordinary.. Learn the mysteries of the occult"

(A little bit lower, under a picture of a levitating woman…(not sure what hypnosis and levitation have to do with each other but anyway))

"Learn the facts about re-incarnation … See a beautiful girl re-live her life of three hundred years ago."

Sounds good to me. When’s the next show?

The She-CreatureLombardi returns to his trailer, or whatever it is he lives in at the circus, and awakens his hypnotized assistant, Andrea (played by the gorgeous Marla English…Va-va-voom!). Andrea awakes and realizes she’s been "in a deep hypnosis for more than an hour."

Something appears to be amiss as Andrea complains how she "hates this place" and further more, hates Lombardi. Lombardi couldn’t give a hoot what she thinks, stating "As long as I’m alive, I’ll possess you." (What a charmer.)

This romantic interlude is interrupted by Erickson and Ed. Being a professor of, *ahem*, Psychic Research, Erickson is very familiar with Lombardi’s theories on ‘past life regression’ or whatever he does to change women into sea monsters. (Whoops! Spoiler alert!) Ok, moving along now, Erickson ID’s Lombardi and Lombardi admits to being at the scene, but just as an innocent bystander who happened to see the open door and peeked in.

As Ed questions Lombardi, Erickson and Andre leave to go have coffee (ostensibly to "tell her what this is all about", yeah right, buddy!). Much to Erickson’s puzzlement, a telepathic command (from Lombardi) stops Andrea from going to the cafe, and she wanders of in a daze.

Under questioning, Lombardi explains that it’s some sort of creature that committed the murders…"huge and indestructable…and I’m the force that gives it life." (Time to call the guys in the white jackets, if you ask me.) Lombardi’s explaining doesn’t hold water with Ed and he takes him downtown. (He’s released, we find out later. Just in case you were worried.)

The She-CreatureThe next day, Erickson is having breakfast with Dorothy’s tycoon-father, Timothy. (Getting confused by all the names? Dorothy is the rich woman from the beginning of the film…still confused? Don’t care? Good. Read on.) Timothy reads that Lombardi predicted the murders with ‘gruesome’ accuracy and decides to exploit the old man in order to make money. If Erickson would give his ‘stamp of approval’ (being a respected Professor of Psychic Research, dontcha know…), they could tour with Lombardi and exploit his ‘predictions’ for money. (And sow the seeds of your demise as well, I suspect…)

Back at the circus, Timothy approaches Lombardi with his proposal. Lombardi, however, "has been in communication with [Timothy’s] thoughts," so he already knows what the visit is about.

Inside Lombardi’s tent, Timothy spells out the business deal and Lombardi agrees to give it a shot. In fact, the next evening Lombardi is to give a demonstration at Timothy’s house to some ‘connected’ guests. (News reporters, politicians, you know the deal.)

After Timothy leaves, Lombardi decides to take care of a little unfinished business. He puts Andrea into a "deep sleep…a verrryyyy deeeeeep sleeeeep…", and calls forth the "she-creature."

The She-CreatureCut to see frothing, foaming (re: dry ice) water, with a super-imposed image of the she-creature itself. As the creature takes on a solid form, it ‘reports for duty’ outside of Lombardi’s home. Sending telepathic messages to the monster via ‘googly-eyes’, the monster goes off to do Lombardi’s bidding. (The she-creature, incredibly enough, roars like a lion. Amazing.)

The she-creature ends up killing one of the circus carnies that was just a little to curious about Andrea, if you know what I mean. (I tried to get a decent screen shot of the monster, but it was obscured by shadows in an effort to foster suspense.)

The headlines next morning read "Savage Pier Murder Baffles Police", with a small insert: "Prehistoric She Creature Responsible … says Occultist [Lombardi]" As Lombardi reads the paper in his tent, in comes Ed, accusing him of killing the carnie (named Johnny incidentally). Although Ed can’t charge him with anything, he still grabs Lombardi roughly by the arm and takes him downtown. (Who needs Miranda Rights anyway?)

The She-CreatureDespite obviously being a crackpot, the police appear to take Lombardi serious enough to close down "all the beaches", until this case is solved. In order to effect these orders, it looks like they place a uniformed policeman every 15 feet on the beach…which would take, oh,…about one million policemen to completely close all the beaches in LA.

Realizing that his big demonstration can’t take place if Lombardi is in the clink, Timothy splurges for a sleazy lawyer and gets Lombardi off of the "trumped-up charges."

Lombardi finally arrives with Andrea in tow. While Lombardi schmoozes the lady of the house, Andrea shoots a ‘come get some’ look to a pleased Erickson. (Another 1950’s sci-fi love triangle is in the making, I fear.) To add a little (much needed) tension to this scene, in comes Detective Ed. He flashes his badge and asks if he can watch Lombardi’s show…Timothy hesitantly allows him to stay. (I don’t think cops can do that, but never mind.)

The show begins and Lombardi introduces Andrea, "the perfect hypnotic subject." She is quickly hypnotized ("one touch and you will be asleep," sounds like my sex life…just kidding! I hope my wife doesn’t read this…) After giving Andrea a few silly commands ("raise your right arm…good…good..now your left.")

Lombardi invites Erickson to come onstage and try and prove what he is about to do is a fraud. With gentle encouragement from the crowd, Erickson makes his way across the floor and onto the stage. Lombardi proceeds to "take her back in time" to the year 1618. (This is all a bit tedious, to be honest.)

Lombardi allows the skeptical Erickson to ask Andrea anything he would like. Despite a barrage of obscure questions, she manages to answer them all correctly. (Well, that proves it! It’s real!)

Now Lombardi takes Andrea "forward in time." (COME ON ALREADY!!!) She answers more questions that I guess would be impossible for her to know, I guess. The audience gasped at her answers so I guess it was something important. (I was yawning at the time…nope, aint going to rewind either…)

Ok, finally something happens. Lombardi calls forth the spirit of, ‘Elizabeth’, a spiritual presence which goes around opening windows and such, all at Lombardi’s command. In wanders the dog, Lombardi hypnotizes dog, oh brother, this sucks.

Anyway, after this awesome display of hypnotism and canine control, ‘Elizabeth’ telepathically informs Lombardi that the she-creature is on the way. Lombardi repeats this message for the benefit of the guests (and the viewer, if you’re still awake), causing everybody to gasp in fear and go outside.

The She-CreatureLombardi leaves the hypnotized Andrea and goes outside to find the she-creature, or something, with Erickson in tow. Watching the beach, Lombardi suddenly see footsteps appear in the sand, created by an invisible creature (ala Forbidden Planet). Suddenly, we see the she-creature appear behind the unsuspecting Erickson (now smoking a pipe). Just as the monster is about to clobber Erickson, Andrea breaks out of the hypnotic state, screams, and faints, thus sending the creature back into the ethereal plane.

The next morning, Erickson, Dorothy (rich girlfriend), and Lombardi (he and Andrea are going to be staying at the house until he can find "more suitable living quarters (??)) are talking about the previous nights events.

Later we find Detective Ed is visiting Erickson at his lab. (A lab complete with test guinea pigs (!), beakers, chemicals, clipboards (of course)…I have to wonder what all this has to do with psychic research…but hey…Science!) Through some exposition, we learn that Lombardi is going to give a demonstration at Erickson’s lab, since, you know, then the demonstration would be "under clinical conditions." Ed, again, wants to both watch and tape record the proceedings.

The demonstration begins. Andrea is hypnotized and is laying on a cot (in a very sheer dress, of course).

I have a bad feeling we are about to see another ‘exciting’ hypnosis scene…

To make a long story short, Lombardi calls forth the spiritual "Elizabeth" (of course only Lombardi can see her). Elizabeth goes around pulling off people’s glasses, etc., in order to prove that all this is real. (Including a scene where she put back ‘on’ the glasses, by playing the clip in reverse.)

Anyway, the spirit returns to Andrea body (via reverse footage), but the scientists are still skeptical. (I really don’t know how they could explain the ‘remove’ the glasses trick…they simply dismiss it as trickery…lazy plot.) Andre is ‘de-hypnotized’ and she and Lombardi take their leave.

Newspaper headlines proclaim that this mysterious "Elizabeth" persona was in fact a real person, lending credence to Lombardi’s claims of being able to ‘regress’ people. (Actually he ‘progresses’ the past lives into the presence). That the newspapers would carry this story on the front page seems a little dubious, but there you go. We also see that he has written a best-selling book which the public is gobbling up for $4.75 a pop! (That Lombardi has written and published a book obviously indicates that some time has passed, how much is not made clear.)

We now see Lombardi and Timothy gloating over the book sales. Noting that since things are going so well, Timothy hints that maybe Lombardi and Andrea could move out into a place of their own for a while. Lombardi declines and chooses to continue living in Timothy’s house. (Huh???)

Via a montage of trains, clapping hands, and so on, we understand that Lombardi and Andrea have become pretty hot items in the entertainment world. This makes me wonder, I mean, you can’t see the ethereal ‘Elizabeth’ unless you "believe" (whatever that means). So I would assume the audience sees only Lombardi and a (shapely) Andrea on the stage…doing what? What exactly does their performance entail?

Ok, ok. Let’s get this over with.

The She-CreatureWe see the a couple of kids kissing in their car, parked at the top of a cliff. (Hmmm, what happens next?) Suddenly the monster appears and pushes the car off the edge of the cliff. Not sure why it did that, or who those kids were, but anyway…

Timothy finally has had enough of Lombardi’s free-loading and tells him to move out. (He bribes him with a bank account of $250,000.) Well, Lombardi agrees to leave the next day, and since Timothy is having another private Lombardi performance at his home that evening, he quickly agrees.

When Lombardi tells Audrey that they’ll be moving away, Audrey resists, saying that Erickson has given her the power to resist Lombardi’s telepathic control. Not to be outdone by a mere Psychic Researcher, Lombardi gives Audrey "The Look", and hypnotizes her…planting the command into the her head thatshe will kill Erickson at the performance. (Believe me, this is all a lot more boring than it sounds. And I know it sounds boring because I’ve re-read all this…sorry about it, but I don’t have a lot to work with.)

OK, Erickson and Audrey are walking on the beach before the shore. Lombardi sees them and commands the dog to attack. Audrey steps in and commands the dog to "go away." Wow. That was exciting. Everybody has mental powers! Yippee!

The She-CreatureAt the evening’s performance, Detective Ed and a uniformed cop (!) are also in attendance. (On what authority can they just pop in and watch the show in a private residence?)

Lombardi tries to hypnotize Audrey but Erickson, sitting in the audience, is somehow giving her mental powers to resist. (Doesn’t a person have to be willing to be hypnotized in the first place?) Like I mentioned before, what exactly do they do in their performance?

Yeah, OK. Lombardi finally manages to put her into a hypnotic state, but the show is a flop become of the unresponsive Audrey (Erickson is blocking Lombardi’s suggestion, or something).

Let’s get going here.

The creature comes up from the sea again, kills Detective Ed, and shambles off. When the uniformed police arrive (along with Detective Sergeant, yeah!) Somehow they figure out they can kill the creature by setting a ring of gasoline around its footprints. (Yeah, it always returns to the sea via the exact same path that it came out…how convenient.)

The She-CreatureBack at Timothy’s house, the creature attacks and kills the greed tycoon, in a "who-can-walk-the-slowest’ chase scene. In comes Erickson, and Lombardi orders the creature to kill him. Audrey, even from her hypnotic state, somehow can keep the creature from obeying these orders, and Erickson mentally orders the creature to kill Lombardi instead.

It’s hard to tell who is doing what when almost everything takes place "mentally".

The creature, having killed Lombardi, takes leave.

Oh wait. Lombardi is still alive, just long enough to speak some dying words. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

OK, Lombardi’s dead after rambling on about doing what no man has done before…yeah, yeah, die already.

Back on the beach, Erickson orders the police to open fire on the ring of fire. (Since when do civilians order policemen to open fire?) Even though they can’t see anything, the cops fire wildly into the flames, killing the creature. I guess. The creature was invisible, so we don’t know it it’s dead or not.

A big question mark before the "The End" confirms my worst fears…someday there could be a "She-Creature 2"…

Ayeeeee!

Dennis Grisbeck (June 2005)

Afterthoughts

What a stinker.

The She-CreatureActually, the monster suit itself was really cool, but was hardly ever shown, and when shown, was often in underlit scenes. The lead actor, Lance Fuller, was completely terrible. Let me stress "completely."

And here is a list of unresolved issues:
How exactly did Lombardi get control over Andrea in the first place?

Why was it so important that Lombardi and Andrea stay at tycoon-Timothy’s house?

The fact that we could be regressed/progressed to our past "forms" reminded me of (the much, much better) I Was A Teenage Werewolf.In that film, the young Tony Rivers was "regressed" back to our prehistoric forms: a werewolf. (Don’t ask, see the movie or read the review.) In that movie, it was pretty hard to swallow the fact that we came from werewolves, but in this film we’re suppose to believe we are descended from sea monsters? Am I missing something here? And not to pound on this movie too much, but this movie implies that we came from sea monsters a mere 300 years ago? Was I sleeping during some explaining, because that’s sure how I interpreted what was going on.

Overall, a pretty dull film, that could have been a lot better with more action, and more screen-time for the monster. I mean, really, it’s not terribly exciting to watch people being put under hypnosis…so the movie for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Read more about The She-Creature at

IMDB

2 comments to The She-Creature (1956)

  • jim bennet

    really funny – keep up the excellent work.
    it was paul blaisdell’s costume that attracted me, but now – I don’t know.

  • Charles

    I have to admit, I watched this recently and the first several minutes really were quite effective. It was a combination of darkness, mystery, shabbiness, desperation and foreboding that worked. You had Lombardi looking out the window at the violent surf from his rundown carnival venue and it was easy to imagine him as someone who would summon a malevolent spirit to murder his enemies. It was easy for me to picture him as resentful, desperate and altogether angry enough to do that, since he had the power, and using the helpless and fallen-through-the-cracks Andrea to accomplish it. (Man, could her vague alluded-to history as a carnival follower make her sound any more lost and degraded?)

    But then we got to Chappel moving the action to his mansion, the stupid Swedish comic relief, Lance Fuller being terrible, and those bizarrely inert performances by Lombardi and all that effective mood vanished.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>