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22 March, 2008

DVD Review: THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER

Title: THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER

Year of Release—Film: 1957

Year of Release—DVD: 2000

DVD Label: Image Entertainment


THE MOVIE

There are bad movies, and then there are Bad movies… movies that are so unintentionally awful that they’re actually enjoyable. THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER is certainly one of the latter.

Directed by Ronald Ashcroft from a script by Frank Hall, TASM has a fairly standard plot for the late ‘50’s, with an alien who has landed on earth encountering a small group of humans to battle for domination of the planet. The differences are that here, the alien invader is a gorgeous female in a skin-tight bodysuit, and the humans she encounters are far from our best and brightest, as was the norm for these films.

The film stars Robert Clarke as a scientist whose mountain cabin is invaded twice, first by a band of gangsters running from the law with a kidnapped heiress. Soon, however, they realize that they are not alone on the mountain, and that all their lives are endangered. They must work together to overcome their mutual enemy or die.

While the dialogue is terrible, and the acting would seem sub-par in a high-school production, the conflict among the inhabitants of the cabin is interesting, as is She-Monster herself. She was nearly a great deal more interesting, as a tight budget, tight schedule, and most importantly a tight costume combined to cause Shirley Kilpatrick to perform some contortions to conceal the fact that the costume’s seams had given way in the back. Overall, the film is a good one for fans of Classic B-movie Cheese; not good, but not so bad that you can’t enjoy it.


THE DISC

The Image Entertainment disc is typical of the company’s releases… better than average, though not by a large margin. I’m assuming that the print used for the transfer is the best one extant; if not, then that is a major problem. The picture varies in quality from merely decent to dark and grainy. Fully understandable in a nearly fifty-year old film, but some effort should’ve gone in to cleaning it up more.

However, other than the poor picture quality the disc is about as good as you could expect. One complaint I do have, and this is common among older B-movies released to DVD, is the lack of either subtitles or closed captioning. Frequently, the audio is of as poor quality as the video, and if you’re even slightly hearing-impaired, as am I, understanding the dialogue can be difficult. The difference between a captioned film and one without may be minor, but the subtitles greatly enhance my enjoyment, and are missed when not present.



THE SPECIAL FEATURES

This is easy—simply put, there are none. Well, there is the theatrical trailer for the film, and a rather complete set of liner notes, well-written and informative. But this isn’t a DVD you’ll pick up because of the bonus features.



IN CONCLUSION

The purpose of any review, at least in my opinion, is to give you the information you need to decide whether or not you should plop down your hard-earned cash on a book, or a movie ticket, or, as in this case, a DVD. Just like most of you, I work hard for a living, and on those occasions when I have some extra money to put down for a new disc for the collection, the last thing I want is to feel that I’ve been ripped-off. So I’ll only give you the straight, unvarnished truth about any DVD I review.

So the question is “Should you rush out to buy this one?” No… at least, not at it’s $14.99 list price. And not unless you are familiar with 1950’s B-movies in general, or else you might feel disappointed when you get it into your player. But there are plenty of retailers and e-tailers who have this one priced a lot lower than fifteen bucks. DeepDiscount DVD has it for less than eleven, and it’s at Amazon for about fourteen.
Still, it gets down to how much you love the cheesy old low-budget horrors of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, and whether or not the words “Ed Wood—Creative Consultant” fire up your desire to see this one. If so, then by all means grab it. But remember, grab it cheap.









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