After all the shark movies I recently watched, it feels pretty good to watch a movie from the Legends of Horror box set. Once again, this is a movie that I never heard of and I had to do some looking up to see what this movie is about. So apparently I have another Italian horror movie on my hands. I don’t know if this is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing but the only way to find out is to go ahead and watch it. So let’s get right into today’s movie, The She Beast.
The plot: In Transylvania, Count Von Helsing heads to his room at a local inn and after sitting down for a while, he grabs a book and then lays in bed while reading it, which depicts events that happened 200 years ago. In the past, a young boy interrupts a funeral service to tell the people that a witch named Vardella has taken his brother. The priest is outraged and demands the boy tell them where she is so they can put a stop to her. The townsfolk gather torches and head out into the night to kill Vardella, but one man says they must exorcise her first, or else she will be a curse on the town for generations to come. The priest leads the townsfolk to the cave that Vardella is hiding in and they capture her after she rushes out to attack them. Taking her to the lake, they tie her into the dunking chair, where Vardella tells them she will come back to take revenge on their descendants. The priest then instructs them the mob to nail a stake into her gut before they proceed to repeatedly dunk Vardella into the lake until she dies. Back in the present, Von Helsing finishes reading the book and puts it down before getting out of the bed. Meanwhile, a pair of newlyweds, Philip and Veronica, are honeymooning in Transylvania but get lost in the mountains. As they stop to check the map, they see someone approaching on a bicycle and ask for directions to an inn that they can stay at for the night and the man directs them to Vaubrac. When the couple arrives in town, they find it unimpressive and consider driving on to the next town, which is 40 miles down the road, when the inn’s owner Ladislav Groper, approaches them and convinces them to stay the night. As they sit outside, Groper brings them some food and tea and after he leaves, Philip and Veronica throw out the garlic that came with their meal. Von Helsing, who was swinging on a nearby swing set, approaches them and tells that the garlic is an area tradition to ward off demons and witchcraft. After introducing himself, Veronica asks if he knows the Draculas, as she recognized the name, and he tells them his family were the ones to exorcise them and drive them out of Transylvania. Von Helsing then convinces them to get a bottle of wine and he starts telling them the history of Vaubrac and of Vardella. When they get tired of listening to him talk, they politely take their leave and Von Helsing takes the wine with him, arguing that the bottle was paid for when Groper tries to stop him. As Philip and Veronica settle in for the night, Groper bursts into the room without knocking, upsetting Philip. Philip requests another room but Groper refuses to let them move and after they argue for a few minutes, Groper leaves. Philip and Veronica begin to have sex but Veronica notices Groper watching from the window, prompting Philip to assault Groper and severely beat him. Returning to the room, Philip wants to leave right away but Veronica says they should stay the night, as Groper won’t do anything again or risk being beaten again. Philip and Vernoica try leaving early in the morning but when the car won’t start, Philip discovers that the distributor cap was removed from his car. Suspecting Groper, Philip bursts into his room to deman it’s return and finds it underneath Groper’s bed. They leave and head down the road when Philip loses control of his car and, after narrowly avoiding hitting a delivery truck, crashes into the lake. The truck driver get out and runs to the lake and retireves Philip, who tells him to help Veronica before he passes out, and the driver quickly pulls her body from the lake. The driver takes them back to the inn and asks Groper to help him, as he has a bad reputation among the local police. When Philip regains consciousness, he sees Groper sitting there drinking and watching him and asks him where Veronica is. Groper points to a room and he goes there to check on her but then yells at Groper and asks what he has done with her. Von Helsing enters the room, having been attracted by the commotion, and when he sees the body, he tells Groper to place the body in the room the couple stayed in, then asks Philip to tell him everything he remembers from the crash. Philip tells him what happened and how the car seemed to be drawn to the lake, and he remembers a wooden structure near the shore. Von Helsing tells Groper to watch over the body and he tells Philip to trust him and they leave to head to his family’s old castle, which the government took possession of. Von Helsing tries to explain to Philip that the body that was retrieved from the lake was that of the witch, Vardella, and he has to retrieve his exorcism tools so that they can exorcise the witch and return her to the lake in order to get Veronica back. Philip thinks they are wasting time and leaves to go alert the police, with Von Helsing chasing after him but he doesn’t find him. Von Helsing goes to the inn and attempts to exorcise Vardella but she wakes up and attacks him, choking him into unconsciousness before fleeing the room. Elsewhere in the inn, Groper is drinking and watching TV when his niece shows up, having hear dthe commotion and gotten scared. Groper invites her in under the pretense of trying to comfort her but he then attempts to rape her but she fights him off and runs out of the room. Groper heads outside and yells at her when Philip shows up and Groper, who is startled, smashes his bottle over Philip’s head. Thinking that he killed him, Groper drags Philip’s body into the street in the hopes that a passing car will run him over but the delivery truck manages to swerve and miss him. Von Helsing comes too and finds Philip and drags him out of the street while elsewhere, Groper is killed by Vardella. When Philip comes too, Von Helsing tries to explain what is going on, that Vardella is killing the descendants of those who killed her, but Philip finds it hard to believe until he sees a body on the side of the road. They head into town and split up to look for Vardella and find her attacking someone outside of a cock fight arena. Philip manages to pull her off her victim and Von Helsing uses a syringe to render her unconscious. The take her back to the inn and place her in the freezer while they return to Von Helsing’s home to get the supplies they need to bring Veronica back. Meanwhile, the police are concerned about the recent murders when the truck driver, who they had arrested earlier, sees that Groper is one of the victims and tells them about the accident and the body at the inn. They head over there and find where Philip and Von Helsing placed the body and take it back to town. Philip and Von Helsing return just as they are leaving and, realizing that they have the body, head into town and steal the police van with Vardella’s body in it. The police give chase but Philip and Von Helsing are able to give them the slip and head to the lake, only for Von Helsing to remember that all of his exorcism tools are in his car. They leave the van and wait for the police to show up, coming up with a plan to attack them and get the tools. When the police arrive, they approach the van only for Valderra, who had regained consciousness, to attack them. Von Helsing knocks her out again and they head to the late and strap her into the dunking chair, and proceed to dunk her under the water. When Veronica’s body appears, Philip swims out to retrieve her and Veronica has no knowledge of what has occurred since the crash. Von Helsing, Philip, and Veronica leave Transylvania and enter Czechoslovakia, with Von Helsing asking to accompany them back to England. Von Helsing says he worries about leaving Vaubrac undefended but Philip says that he is glad to be leaving while Veronica cryptically says that she will be back, mirroring what Vardella had said 200 years ago.
I have to be honest, this was a little disappointing of a movie as a horror movie, but it was entertaining in a “God, this is bad” kind of way. The acting was decent, with Barbara Steele doing a good job in the brief time she was on screen as Veronica, while John Karlsen (Von Helsing) and Ian Ogilvy (Philip) made for an interesting dynamic. The story was interesting but the way that they tried to enact the story felt a little weak and didn’t really do a good job in explaining everything that was going on. The lighting in the movie was pretty bad and the special effects were pretty weak to be honest. All told, it wasn’t quite what I expected and could have been better but not the worst movie I have seen.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5