I’m still trying to figure out if Michael Reeves’ 1966 quasi-creature feature is an unintentional satire, or just an overrated piece of cult cotton candy that gets more credit than it deserves. It was tough to make heads or tails of this movie at times, and you can sense the writer going off the rails in many instances where he just didn’t seem to be able to grasp his own premise. Why would it take bullets to bring down a witch that was around during the eighteenth century? Why bullets of all things? It’s tough to really capture what the film is going for when it purports to be an honest to goodness horror film and then shows a title card reading “Transylvania – Today.” Seriously? That’s the best that they could do?
Nevertheless we meet Phillip and Veronica, two yuppy tourists who end up on the countryside of Transylvania where their pompous interactions make for some cringe worthy dialogue including their mocking of the land that results in their mockery of one another, meandering and utterly pointless exposition, and lines like “Excuse me do you speak English?” to which a villager declares “No I speak English!” Okay… so sarcasm is still an artform being progressively perfected in “Transylvania – Today.” I can only imagine the villager going home, “So I told the prick “No I Speak English!” He was so speechless!” Yes. Anyway, as luck would have it the lovely Barbara Steele plays Veronica, a woman who happens to be the descendant of an evil demonic witch who was drowned and killed by villagers in the very town they’re stranded on.
After almost an hour of Veronica and Phillip chatting, meeting up with the descendent of Van Helsing who explains the witch legend, and then brings them in to his lair to re-explain the legend, we finally bear witness to the revival of the witch! As luck would have it, an unseen force pulls Phillip and Veronica’s car in to the lake the witch is still lying in and Veronica re-emerges possessed as the witch… who is pregnant… with Veronica! Why? I… honestly can’t tell you if I tried. I’m still trying to figure out why Van Helsing is intent on stopping this witch when he revives her mid-way only to be strangled by her and live to tell about it. Isn’t reviving the very witch you’re hunting a bit counter productive? And what is the ultimate goal of possessing a woman and then giving birth to the woman you possessed?
How does that work? Is this witch seeking self-preservation or is she plotting to take over the world? And to make matters worse once the witch is on the run we engage in a fifteen minute Keystone Cops car chase that makes absolutely no sense, all compiling comedic and slapstick moments that kept me consistently asking “Is this still supposed to be a horror movie?” So they kidnap the witch they revived to put her to sleep again and exorcise her from Veronica’s body to keep her from giving birth to Veronica who… Barbara Steele is pretty striking, isn’t she? I’ll leave it on that note. Absurd, moronic, and just plain confusing, “The She-Beast” is classic schlocky Monster hogwash with a self-aware script, piss poor performances, and of course a ridiculous villain with convoluted plot to take over the world. And oddly enough, I didn’t have a horrible time with it.