PCR past banners
Now in our ninth calendar year!
PCR #438 (Vol. 9, No. 33) This edition is for the week of August 11--17, 2008.

The Tampa Film Review for August áby Nolan Canova and Chris Woods
MOVIE REVIEW
"Tropic Thunder" áby Mike Smith
LA FLORIDIANA
Let's Stroll Historic Roser Park! The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part 9 by William Moriaty
ODDSERVATIONS
VHS Grindhouse: "She-Gods of Shark Reef" (1958) áby Andy Lalino
RETRORAMA
Kiddie Matinee Memories ľ Part 2 áby ED Tucker
FILM BIZ 101
Who Does What? by Corey Castellano
FILMLOOK
The Man Behind the Curtain at the Tampa Theatre by Paul Guzzo
SPORTS TALK
Michael Phelps On Your Wheaties .... John Lynch Joins Patriots .... Rays Getting Stung .... Tampa Little League .... Tj Whosayourmama .... .... .... áby Chris Munger
MIKE'S RANT
This Week's Pcr .... Viva Las Vegas .... Sign #3 That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us .... I Spy .... Enjoy Your Time .... Passing On .... Wow! .... .... And The Oscar For 1980 Should Have Gone To... by Mike Smith
LETTERS
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Home
Oddservations by Andy Lalino


VHS Grindhouse: "She-Gods of Shark Reef" (1958)


VHS Grindhouse: She-Gods of Shark Reef (1958)

Do you realize that this is (unintentionally) the third film in a row I've reviewed from 1958?

As many a Corman fan knows, She-Gods of Shark Reef was produced the same time as Naked Paradise in Hawaii in '58. Off-Beat Cinema reports that for a partial time Corman and family vacationed while filming took place, and even struck a deal with a local hotel for free room + board in exchange for a movie plug!

She-Gods is another of Corman's maritime adventures which I found more enjoyable than the later, more comical Creature from the Haunted Sea. This one seemed plucked from the pages of a juicy pulp novel, with the name itself conjuring visions of lost civilizations, Amazonian beauties, infernal idols, and ravenous sea monsters. We actually do get all these elements, just not in to the fantastic degree the movie poster coaxes!

Opening with a stealthy nocturnal murder scene (with a machete), criminal Jim Johnson (TV star Don Durant) stows away on his brother Chris's (toehead Bill Cord) boat. While at sea, the boat wrecks and the Johnson brothers are washed ashore on a lush, tropical south seas island named Rara Tu, inhabited by a clan of buxom island beauties!

In the tradition of similar all-female inhabited kingdoms (Cat Women of the Moon, etc.) the girls go ga-ga over the beefy hunks, with the exception of Queen Pua, the elderly and distrusting matriarch. The lovely Mahia (Lisa Montell) is particularly smitten with Chris, the good brother, driving a wedge between his relationship with the opportunistic Jim, who takes notice of the She-God's expert pearl diving abilities.

After being told a ship will arrive in a few days to bring supplies, Jim gets nervous at the thought of getting caught for the murder and wants to make his own way off the island in secret - with Chris in tow. He finds a boat in a desolate lagoon hidden by palm fronds and plans an escape. Trouble is, back at the village Queen Pua plans on sacrificing Mahia to the Shark-Gods in return for a plentiful pearl take.

In a hair-raising rescue, Chris snatches Mahia from the Pua's clutches as the trio escape to the boat - against Jim's wishes, who did not want Mahia hanging around. Smartly, they kidnap Queen Pua as added insurance that the She-Gods won't follow them too closely, and hole up on the shores of a rocky reef. While Chris and Mahia doze, Jim returns to the village to steal a pouch of priceless pearls - while Queen Pua frees herself from captivity and returns to the village also, sounding an alert for the other She-Gods to track down the infidels.

In a hasty escape from the reef, Chris, Jim, and Mahia hop back in their boat and make their way to the open ocean. Their plans are in danger when a deadly shark pursues, taking a bite out of Jim as the pearls fall back to the bottom of the ocean. The surviving couple, Chris and Mahia, manage to get back in the safety of the boat and drift outward to sea.

There's not a lot going for She-Gods of Shark Reef, and typical of AIP, the movie poster was much much better than the film. Don't expect to see any fiery volcanoes, irate gods, or great white sharks - I don't think Paul Blaisdell was on this project. I have to state, however, that there is a live shark in the murky underwater scenes that does battle with Mahia (it's not as dramatic as I make it sound), and she draws blood. If you're lucky, you'll spot Tiki god Tanga Roah set in his submerged octopus's garden.

Durant and Cord are suitably charismatic as the two male leads, and Montell is genuinely alluring as Mahia. Another unexpected feature of the the film is that it's in color, which was not all that common in '58, especially at this budget (a reported $50,000), and includes generous underwater shots. Too bad most prints existing of She-Gods are poor, because it does include some interesting shots of the Hawaiin island locale.

She-Gods is one of those low-end Corman pictures that suffers from too much filming at one time (see also, The Last Woman on Earth, Swamp Women, etc.), and as a result is nowhere near as enduring or endearing as It Conquered the World or Attack of the Crab Monsters. Great movie poster, though.

I was lucky enough to record it off Buffalo's Off-Beat Cinema on glorious VHS, with comedy and commentary with Maxwell Truth and Bird (note: Zelda's missing from this episode).



"Oddservations" is ©2008 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.