Release Date(s)1968 (February 26, 2018)
Studio(s)Hammer Films/Seven-Arts/20th Century Fox (Shout/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B-
[Editor’s Note: This review contains major spoilers for both She and its sequel The Vengeance of She. Proceed with caution.]
Three explorers discover the lost city of Kuma in an unexplored area of Africa, which is under the rule of Ayesha, AKA She. Believing one of the men, Leo, to be the reincarnation of her long-lost love Kallikrates, she convinces him to walk into a ceremonial blue flame, a rare occurrence that will grant him immortality. However, when they step into the flame together, Ayesha unwittingly loses her immortality and becomes mortal, crumbling away before his eyes, whereupon Leo vows to wait for the next blue flame to occur. So concludes 1965’s She starring Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing, John Richardson, and Christopher Lee.
Three years later, The Vengeance of She was released, following up on what became of Kallikrates, AKA Leo. While waiting for the blue flame to return, he is informed that Ayesha has been reincarnated in the form of a young woman named Carol (Olinka Berova), who finds herself being drawn to something telepathically. Concerned for her well being, a psychiatrist (Edward Judd) follows her and attempts to rescue her from the clutches of Kallikrates.
Both She and The Vengeance of She are fairly non-traditional Hammer productions, to put it mildly. The original story had been adapted for the screen during the silent film era, but the original novel by H. Rider Haggard was lacking a more modern, big-screen approach. The first film was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but despite the fact that a sequel novel was available to drawn upon, it wasn’t utilized, and The Vengeance of She went in its own direction.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not much of a fan of either of these films, but whereas She has a bit more going for it in terms of story and acting talent, The Vengeance of She is bereft of both. Absolutely nothing of consequence happens for nearly an hour of its 101-minute running time. It doesn’t help that the film’s title and advertisements are bald-faced lies. The character of She never returns, nor does she reek any vengeance upon anyone. Carol’s character basically wanders into a situation and is told she’s Ayesha reincarnated, but she never does anything remotely approaching what the film’s vivid poster artwork promises.
As for Olinka Berova herself, it’s true that she isn’t much of an actress and was likely cast not just because of how beautiful she was, but also due to her resemblance to Ursula Andress. However, in her defense, she’s not really given much to do outside of being eye candy. She’s basically an object, and that’s really all the film is about: “Oooh, isn’t she pretty,” but with no story to back it up. The movie doesn’t actually begin to get interesting until its final 20 minutes or so, which turns out to be a basic retread of the original film’s ending anyway. By and large, The Vengeance of She isn’t all that effective. It’s not a horrible movie, but it’s an altogether dull one.
Scream Factory brings The Vengeance of She to Blu-ray for the first time with a “new 2K scan of original film elements,” which is likely an interpositive source. It’s actually a gorgeous presentation from top to bottom. Grain is solid with high levels of fine detail, only softened by the film’s use of matte paintings and opticals. There’s also beautiful color reproduction, with many bold hues and natural skin tones. Deep blacks are on display with excellent shadow detail, as well as perfect brightness and contrast. It’s also mostly stable, outside of some uses of stock footage, and incredibly sharp and clean with almost no damage leftover, aside from some minor speckling. In other words, a nearly perfect high definition presentation.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. Although narrow, everything is well-represented on this track. Dialogue is perfectly clear and discernable at all times, and the overdubs aren’t all that obvious and blend in fairly well. The score mixes in with the other elements well, including sound effects which do have some impact. It’s also quite a clean presentation with no signs of hiss, crackle, distortion, or dropouts.
Extras include a new audio commentary with Monster Party podcast hosts Matt Weinhold, Shawn Sheridan, Larry Strothe, and James Gonis, which is quite jovial but occasionally educational; Terence Cleff: Assistant Director, a new 3-minute interview; Joy Cuff: Visual Effects, a new 8-minute interview; Trevor Coop: Clapper/Loader, a new 6-minute interview; the 25-minute Lands Before Time episode of The World of Hammer, narrated by Oliver Reed; the original theatrical trailer; 2 TV spots; and an animated still gallery with 73 images of posters, lobby cards, promotional shots, and behind-the-scenes stills.
I can’t say whether or not watching the original She prior to watching The Vengeance of She would give you a better grasp of what to expect out of it. It’s a continuation of the same story, but at the end of the day, they’re different cuts of the same cloth and one is a bit superior over the other. At the very least, Scream Factory’s presentation of The Vengeance of She shouldn’t leave anyone unhappy as it’s thoroughly lovely to look at, and with some quality bonus content in tow, it’s a nice package overall.
– Tim Salmons