She Creature (2001)
Director: Sebastian Guttierrez
At the turn of the 20th Century, a con man (Sewell) and his main squeeze (Gugino) stumble upon a real live Mermaid (Kihlsted). They eventually pack her in a water tank and slap her onboard a boat to bring her to America. Fortunately for us they find out the hard way that this particular She-Fish is nothing like Disney’s The Little Mermaid. It’s sailor-munching time!
When I heard that a flick about a killer Mermaid was swimming on the video shelves, I said to myself, self…you’ve never seen a murderous Mermaid opus so you gotta hit it. Sure Tom Hank’s Afro like hair cut in Splash was quite frightening, but I had a feeling that She Creature would deliver more goodies than that man’s mane. I was right. She Creature took me aback; I was expecting a gooey cheese sandwich and instead got an intelligent, well-written, and old-fashioned piece of horror fun. This sexy beast definitely sported a Hammer/Poe feel to it and I welcomed the vibe with my pants down.
Now, the main hook that pierced my brain in regards to this flick is that I’ve never encountered a killer Mermaid film before. I don’t know the rules, there are no set conventions and in consequence I just never knew what to expect. The film plays that angle to a T, making the enigmatic, bare breasted Mermaid quite a hard character to pinpoint. At times I often felt a pleasant nervousness while watching her go about cause I didn’t know what kind of crazy shite she’d pull, at other times I’d feel pity towards her due to the occasional mistreatment she had to go through (damn horny sailors). The mysterious aura that floated around the Mermaid character and the odd happenings that accompanied her presence (psychic bonds, weird pregnancy, crazy dream sequences, the growth of legs) fascinated me immensely. Also the fact that she’s sizzling hot didn’t hurt either. What a delight!
The many astounding performances also contributed to make the fantastic premise even more engrossing. They bought it so I bought it. Add to that some solid special effects courtesy of Stan Winston Studios, gorgeous cinematography, a couple of intense scares, stylish directing and you get a very strong horror offering. My only real complaint with this tuna is that its conclusion doesn’t fully live up to its first hour. The movie ended on a very familiar “beast on the loose in claustrophobic setting” note, the CGI kicked in (it’s decent) and the “unique” card was dropped to embrace an “Alien”/Species” like scenario instead. Now don’t get me wrong, the last half hour was still highly entertaining but I guess the fresh first hour had me anticipating a more unpredictable cap-off. NOTE: I also noticed that some of the “inserts” were shot on Beta Cam or digital. That would take me out of the action a bit cause it was too obvious! I guess that’s TV for ya!
Overall I wound up relishing most of She Creature. It’s not everyday that we get to see a Mermaid go “postal” on a bunch of sailors. The film had me signed, sealed, delivered for most of the way. Every time I felt safe, it would pull the rug from under me. That doesn’t happen to me often. Thank the heavens above for schizophrenic, creamy breasted Mermaids. Splash in this!
We get some light blood here and there, some munched on sailors, chewed off hands, a Mermaid tail stabbing and competent creature effects courtesy of Stan Winston Studios. Nice!
Rufus Sewell (Angus) brings humanity to a part that could’ve been so one-dimensional. His Irish accent comes and goes though. Carla Gugino (Lillian) on the other hand nails her British accent and displays a wide variety of emotions. Impressive. Reno Wilson (Bailey) brings a couple of smiles with his engaging performance. Rya Kihlsted (Mermaid) surprised the hell out of me with her unpredictable, captivating and very credible performance. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and not just due to her ample show-off of tit action.
T & A
Rya Kihlsted (Mermaid) is all about showing her ta-tas and I was all about enjoying watching them. The ladies get Rufus Sewell shirtless.
Guttierrez gives the film a classy look, injecting some kool camera angles, interesting shot composition, some flashiness and lots of visual panache. He also has a strong handle on his suspense.
The score is appropriate, nothing too memorable though.
Taking into account the multitude of genre films I’ve sat through, it takes a lot for me to get surprised. She Creature had me going and kept me riveted to the screen. If you’re in the mood for something unique, hit this wet, kooky gal. Sure the conclusion is a tad too déjà vu but that doesn’t come close to ruining the overall She Creature experience. I’m ready for Part 2 of The Mermaid Chronicles…are you?
This flick was part of HBO’s Creature Features series. The series was shown on HBO and Cinemax. All five films were loose remakes of 50’s genre shlockers. The other movies in the series were: How to Make a Monster, Earth vs. the Spider, Teenage Caveman, and The Day the World Ended.
Stan Winston is one of the film’s producers.