She Creature

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Angus Shaw (Rufus Sewell) runs a carnival sideshow, where people can see some freakish sites and Shaw collects some decent funds. But much like the other sideshow attractions, most of Angus’ freaks are not really abnormal, just regular people in need of work, enhanced by some smoke and mirrors. One of his top attractions is his wife Lillian (Carla Gugino), whose claim to fame is being a mermaid, although she is not even close to the real deal. The audiences pay the fees however, so she keeps up the act and pays the bills, as the sideshow travels the Irish countryside. At one show, the two end up getting to know an old sailor and after he is given a ride back to his castle, he invites them inside to see a real sideshow element. Of course, the couple have doubts about the old man’s word, but he proves to be honest when he shows them his prize possession, a real mermaid trapped inside of a large tank. When the old sailor refuses to sell the creature, Angus and his men storm the castle to take the mermaid, which they think is an instant ticket to fame & fortune. But as they sail toward America with their valuable item in tow, the ship begins to take some wrong turns and soon enough, the mermaid shows her true colors…

This is the first film released by Creature Features, a label fronted by Lou Arkoff, Colleen Camp, and Stan Winston. As you’d expect from the name, the company’s focus is to make monster movies and if this one is any indication, I think the line will be a smash success. This is a remake of the 1956 film The She-Creature, which is a campish, but fun motion picture. I had some reservations, as others have tried to make modern takes on the horror films from the 1950s, but She Creature delivers the goods and then some. The film is able to overcome a limited budget and short shooting schedule to come off as a solid monster movie, much better than expected. But then again, with Stan Winston’s visual effects team on deck, you know She Creature has some cool creatures and it does, especially the featured attraction. But this film has more than special effects, as it packs a solid cast and good storyline also, so it is well balanced. As this was a made for cable picture, I was quite stunned by how well executed the movie is and I can’t wait for more from Creature Features. This film ignores the modern approach to horror and relies on atmosphere, performances, and well crafted visuals, all of which work to perfection here. As such, I give She Creature a high recommendation to those with even a casual interest. On a special note, let’s hope Columbia releases the original The She-Creature to DVD soon, as it deserves a disc too, ya know!

Her role is not given the most screen time or the highest billing on the marquee, but Rya Kihlstedt has perhaps the most important part in She Creature. As the mermaid at the center of this movie, she has to be alluring and attractive, but in a vixen kind of fashion, so that we know she’s hot, but also that she’s dangerous. This is all vital because we have to understand why the characters react to her like they do, in most cases, why they would risk death to keep the mermaid around, instead of tossing her over the side. And I think Kihlstedt is able to come through on all counts, which is impressive, given the nature of the role. She hasn’t been a lot of films to this point, but I think she has established herself as a solid performer. Other films with Kihlstedt include Home Alone 3, Arctic Blue, Hudson River Blues, Deep Impact, and Say You’ll Be Mine. The cast also includes Rufus Sewell (A Knight’s Tale, Dark City), Carla Gugino (The One, Troop Beverly Hills), and Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, Beautiful Joe).

Video: How does it look?

She Creature is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition also included on this dual layered disc. As expected, the image here looks excellent and leaves little room for complaint. I saw no evidence of print wear or damage, which is how it should be, given the quick move from television to disc. The colors here look a little reserved, but that is intentional and as such, no worries on that end. I was pleased to find contrast is top notch also, which very sharp black levels and high detail at all times. This is a clean, sharp presentation that should please all viewers, terrific work on all fronts.

Audio: How does it sound?

I wasn’t bowled over by the Dolby Digital 5.0 track included here, but it covers all the bases and even offers some memorable moments. The music sounds clean and makes good use of the speakers, while the sound effects also have good presence. The first hour of the movie has a lot of subtle, eerie surround use, while the final half hour has more power, which makes for a good balance of audio presence. I have no flaws to report with the dialogue either, as vocals come across in crisp and clear form throughout. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai, should you need those options at some point.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The best of the extras is an audio commentary with Stan Winston and effects supervisor Shane Mahan, who give an informative & enjoyable session. The two talk about how the concept was developed, how the Creature Features label was founded, and of course, discuss the special effects work at length. It was cool to hear the reasons behind the special effects choices, as well as a little insight into how the results were acquired. This disc also includes a brief behind the scenes featurette, some talent files, and a collection of still photos.

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