Thursday, July 24, 2014



"From beauty To BEAST !"

    One of the more entertaining examples of low budget 50's horror 1958's SHE DEMONS is also one of the earlier entries in the "facial surgery horror" genre and along with the same year's FRANKENSTEIN 1970 was one of the earlier movies to reference Nazis in a monster type horror setting. SHE DEMONS has jack booted Nazi mad scientists, Nazi underlings with whips, bongo accompanied jungle dance numbers, female captives turned into pasty faced monsters and lastly (but surely not least-ly) TV jungle girl Irish "Sheena" McCalla, which although while not reaching the excitement levels as hoped for by the sum of these elements is still a fun little "so bad it's good" and plus has some rather lurid stuff lurking around in its (sometimes slow moving) plot.
    MaCalla plays spoiled rich girl Jerrie Turner who along with eventual love interest and nominal hunk Fred Maklin (Tod Griffin), comic relief Sammy Ching ( Victor Sen Yung - Hop Sing from T.V.'s BONANZA and # 1 son from Monogram Charlie Chan's) and soon to be monster fodder Kris Kamana (Charles Opunui) find themselves stranded on supposedly deserted island. After bickering for awhile (Jerrie whines that no one rescued her toreador pants) the castaways settle down for the night, but not before learning via radio that the island is scheduled to be used as bombing practice by the Air Force ! (which no doubt will factor into the climax).
    At this point Irish does one of those bare back behind a blanket topless scenes and later claimed (according to the booklet in the Image DVD) that director Richard Chuna desperately tried to talk her into a full frontal topless bit to "spice it up for the foreign markets" to which she refused to partake in. For some bizarre reason Fred spends these early scenes shirtless all the while wearing his slacks hitched halfway up his chest (and seems to be constantly holding his stomach in).

    The next day Kris is found dead with a couple of spears in him and a weird looking woman/monster thing with long fingernails, mis-shapened face and fangs is found dead on the beach. Later in one of the more memorable sequences in 1950's low budget horror they spy a bunch of women in native grab doing a wild dance while accompanied by a couple of said women on bongos ! As it turns the women are part of a bunch of showgirls (!) who are being held captive by by Nazi doctor in hiding Col. Karl Osler (Rudolph Anders) who's here along with a few of his subordinates and conducting facial reconstructive experiments.
    In a very long & highly detailed back story Osler relates how he was sent to the island during the later stages of WWII to set up a secret laboratory for reasons never made exactly clear. Now exclusively working on restoring his wife's mangled face (which is kept under bandages), he's kidnapped the woman in order to use them on some sort of electrical face repair apparatus - with the end result them being turned in the title characters (and are kept locked up in bamboo cages). While seemingly to continual fail on the face surgery side of things Osler has cracked the whole perpetual motion problem with help from the active volcanoes on the island (wonder where this is going to end up ??).

    At certain points the captive woman (in their pre She Demon mode) are let out and/or escape from their cages in order to do the wild dance number until their herded back into their cages while those who need to be punished are strung up and whipped by Osler's # 1 henchman Igor (veteran character actor Gene Roth). Eventually Osler begins to take in interest in Jerrie (especially after getting her into a black evening dress) while forgoing his bandaged wife which leads to an orgy of stock footage climax complete with the famous Bronson Cavern locations, mis-matched stunt double fight scenes, cardboard "stone" walls that wobble and a fairly copious amount of blood letting for 1958. The various dancing She Demons all are credited has being "The Diane Nellis Dancers" (!?).
    The German born Anders had a career going back to the early 1930's. He fled Germany after the rise of Hitler and appeared in Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR along with various German spies and military officers thru the 1940's and would later appear in FRANKENSTEIN 1970 (also from the amazing year of 1958 - see below). The 5' 9" McCalla was a famous pin up model (she was a Varga model at one point) and was most recognizable for her leopard skin clad body swinging through the trees in T.V.'s SHEENA QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE which ran from 1955-56. She later become quite a well known western & cowboy artist.

   Director Richard Cunha along with producers Marc Frederic & Arthur Jacobs were also behind MISSILE TO THE MOON (convicts on the moon along with moon babes, giant spiders & rock men !), THE GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN (lightning resurrected giant Spanish conquistador !) and FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER with a pre - Beach Party John Ashley, Playboy Playmate Sally Todd and future Mrs. Jack Nicholson Sandra Knight. These were all (along with SHE DEMONS) released in the watershed year of 1958 that also included THE FLY, THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER, IT - THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMEN, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, THE BLOB, THE CRAWLING EYE and FIEND WITHOUT A FACE among many others.




  1. I never got to see this one on any of my Creature Feature shows as a kid - I finally got to watch it as part of a complete set of Elvira hosted VHS tapes I purchased at cost thanks to a video store job in the late 80's. (Cost by the way was like $12 a tape - retail was $19.99 - what times we lived in, eh?) After finally working my way through the set and watching this one in early 1992 - I was inspired by the movie as I set about trying to make my first movie - Island of the She-Devils. If you'd like to know more about that particular production - here's link to part one of a two part behind the scenes Megapost on this cinematic epic:

    1. That was pretty cool Craig and great pictures. If you ever get that transferred over to DVD put me on the list to get a copy.

  2. They played She Demons a lot on Chiller Theater when I was a squirt. I just loved the cheesy oatmeal faced make-up which did the job of scaring me back then. And the way they would casually stroll in file out of their cage to start their ooga booga dance was hilarious!

  3. I'll have to track this one down too. But it's gotten me in a Naziploitation mood. Think I'll go and watch Fraelins in Uniforms that I've had for ages but haven't gotten to.

    1. I've had Frauleins in Uniform in Uniform sitting on my shelf for awhile also and have been meaning to check it out (it sure has a cool cover).

    2. I didnt end up watching it. The mrs wanted to watch The Alcove instead. Which turned out to be a very intriguing and accidentally funny film.