The Vengeance of She is Hammer’s loose sequel to 1965’s She starring Ursula Andress and Peter Cushing, a fairly alluring tale of a queen of a lost African city searching for love. The 1968 sequel doesn’t bring Andress or Cushing back; instead director Cliff Owen heads in the opposite direction, casting Olinka Berova (or Olga Schoberova adopting a stage name) as the main character Carol, a woman drawn to the city of Kuma by occultists who believe she is the reincarnation of Andress’ character Ayesha from the original movie. What follows is an “adventure” tale (using that term loosely) as Carol and her companion Philip (Edward Judd) make their way to Kuma and attempt to escape the paranormal clutches of Killikrates (John Richardson), Ayesha’s former lover.
While The Vengeance of She works off the presumption that viewers have seen the first film, its elaboration on the city of Kuma, its queen Ayesha, and Killikrates and his cult is extremely limited. Throughout the film, Owen switches narratives between Carol and Philip’s excursion from the Mediterranean to Kuma and Killikrates and his mage Men-Hari’s (Derek Godfrey) attempts to draw Carol to the city by making her think she’s Ayesha, but The Vengeance of She is filled with all kinds of cultist nonsense that never gets explained in great detail. Instead, events just seem to happen – see the film’s entire first scene where Carol is nearly raped by a man before magic causes a truck to crash into him – without much fanfare.
The plot itself is far too thin, and much of the film’s excruciatingly long running time is dedicated to watching Carol and Philip trek through African landscapes, or unnecessary belly dancing sequences, or Killikrates and Men-Hari sharing details about their poorly-explained scheme to turn Carol into Ayesha and have her enter an eternal flame, which, we are told by another mage-like character, could cause the end of the world for some reason. Ultimately the film is less interested in explaining these events than it is documenting every mundane maneuver Berova makes, which amounts to a lot of screentime for Carol showcasing Berova’s beautiful figure but not much else. Berova herself is given little to do acting-wise except for reaction shots, and Carol as a character is about as bare-bones as can be (and not very alluring besides her looks).
The Vengeance of She is a giant misstep, with an adventure story that should have been a lot more compelling than what ends up on screen. Owen’s direction is part of the problem, but the script itself – written by Peter O’Donnell – is pretty atrocious too. The film’s theme song asks “Who is she?”, and by the end of the film, audiences probably won’t care for an answer.
Scream Factory continues their release of Hammer films on Blu-ray with this new 2k scan of The Vengeance of She from original film elements; in general, it seems that when they use this phrase it tends to mean the interpositive. However, this new scan looks lush with a great color palette highlighting the greenery and red hues of the city of “Kuma.” Occasionally, close-up shots can feature a softness that obscures some detail, and skin tones can look a bit too smooth. Other than that, though, this new scan appears to be a nice improvement from the film’s prior DVD release; the source is in very good shape, with almost no damage, and I doubt this particular movie will get a better transfer than this.
Audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, and it sounds fine with no particular stand-out elements. The soundtrack does come through nicely, and dialogue seems to be at a sufficient volume with consistency. English subtitles are also included.
For extra features, Scream Factory has included an audio commentary by The Monster Party Podcast, which is a fun listen and certainly must have been difficult for the hosts to find interesting things to say about this film – they struggle, but there’s a good mix of information and jokes. Also, three new short interviews are provided: a 2 minute one with Terence Clegg, assistant director, who seems to have very little to say about the movie; an 8 minute one with Joy Cuff, visual effects artist, who discusses the creation of the mountain effects and bust of Ayesha; and a 5 minute interview with clapper/loader Trevor Coop, who shares some fun anecdotes from working on the film as well. Overall, it’s a bit surprising to see that Scream Factory was able to garner so many interviews with the crew, so kudos to them for these short but illuminating pieces.
Also included is a vintage World of Hammer episode called “Lands Before Time,” a theatrical trailer, TV spots, and a still gallery.
While The Vengeance of She is far from a great film and I honestly would not rank it very highly on a list of Hammer films, it’s still nice to have this sequel to She for hardcore collectors with a nice new 2k scan that may be the best we’ll ever get. Extra features are fairly robust for those interested in behind-the-scenes info about the film, and Scream Factory have done a good service for fans here.
The Vengeance of She is a poor film and a terrible sequel to She. However, Scream Factory have done their part to restore it anyway with good transfer and a surprising number of features for such an aged and poorly-received film.