The She Creature (1956) Bridey Murphy’s Reincarnation meets Beulah the Busty Crusty ‘She Creature’ from Paul Blaisdell’s imagination.

“Hypnotized! Reincarnated as a monster from hell!”

THE SHE CREATURE 1956

In 1952 the world celebrated the famous Bridey Murphy regression case. It began when one Morey Bernstein hypnotized a Colorado housewife named Ruth Simmons. Under a trance, emerged the personality of Bridey Murphy an 18th Century Irish woman.

from the film The Search For Bridey Murphy

In 1956 Bernstein published his book The Search For Bridey Murphy. Eventually the story made it onto the screen by Paramount Pictures, starring Teresa Wright and Louis Hayward, a film which is on my short list of things to watch.

And if you have a guilty pleasure for musicals as I do, you’ll see the story retold in Vincente Minneli’s On A Clear Day You Can See Forever 1971 starring musical diva Barbara Streisand, Yves Montand and Jack Nicholson. With some of the BEST music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.

Barbara Streisand as Daisy Gamble in Vincente Minneli’s 1970 On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Now in 1956 when A.I.P was churning out goodies like It Conquered The World 1956  for Roger Corman, the idea of past life regression became of some interest to producer Alex Gordon.

The She Creature incorporated the concept of a lovely girl harboring a past soul or souls, but due to the fact that A.I.P. wanted monsters in their pictures, they used the best of both worlds and mixed an unconventional idea that was all the rage at that time, and threw in an ancient busty crusty beastie that rose from the sea, whenever the girl was in a trance.

So you have it, a girl from the 20th century inhabited by a female creature from the primordial edges of time’s beginning. Schlocky fun from Samuel Z. Arkoff, Alex Gordon and one of my favorite directors who can take a b-movie sci-fi/horror picture and bring a bit of grimy noir sensibility to it the great Edward L. Cahn.

Jerry Zigmond’s contribution was coming up with the title THE SHE CREATURE and the screenplay was written by Lou Rusoff. The film stars Chester Morris as Dr Carlo Lombardi, Marla English as his subject Andrea, good ole Tom Conway as Timothy Chappel, Cathy Downes as Dorothy Chappel, Ron Randell as Lt. Ed James, Lance Fuller as Dr. Ted Erickson Frieda Inescort as Mrs Chappel and of course Paul Blaisdell as Beulah!

Chester Morris (Alibi 1929, The Big House 1930, Five Came Back 1939) plays the smarmy Dr. Carlo Lombardi, carnival hypnotist and prognosticator extraordinaire. Morris brings smarmy to a whole new level here, that it even makes Jack Cassidy‘s villains’ seem Christ like. Lombardi travels around rich circles impressing the affluent patrons, with his ability to regress his female hostage, oops I mean patient back in time, probing old memories of their past lives, thereby proving that reincarnation is real.

Another nifty trick is the claim that he can summon forth the incorporeal spirit or soul from the past and manifest it into a physical form.

It starts out on the desolate beach at night where the mustachioed mad hypnotist Lombardi is standing in silhouette , then walking along the shore, dressed in black like a villain from a silent movie, about to tie a maiden to the train tracks. He’s staring out at the sea, a distant shape is forming in and out of the breaking tides.

Dr. Carlos Lombardi communing with the ancient she creature that is waiting out in the misty turbulent ocean.

“Now on This very night I have called into the unknown depths of time itself. She is here. And with her coming, the world will never be as it was. Neither man nor animal will be the same. This, I, Dr. Carlo Lombardi have brought into being!”

Suddenly the camera focuses on a monstrous invisible foot print in the sand. The moment is broken when King the loyal dog of Dorothy Chappel, starts barking and breaks Lombardi’s concentration. Dorothy’s father Timothy Chappel a promoter, is hosting a party this particular weekend at their fancy beach house. Invited to the party is Dorothy’s boyfriend Dr. Ted Erickson who is a notable expert on the subject of psychic research. He’s not comfortable mingling with the idle rich, he’s basically just a ‘farm boy’ and just doesn’t fit in with Dorothy’s father’s crowd.

Mrs.Chappel believes in the powers of the supernatural She tries to convince her husband that Lomardi’s prediction that something terrible is going to happen along this part of the coast tonight, they’ll be ‘a visitation from the occult world’ and tells him seriously that he must meet him. Tim Chappel laughs at his wife, and remarks, that “Some women keeps pets, or grow roses for kicks, my wife supports quack occultists.”

Mrs.Chappel tells her husband that he puts this girl in a deep trance and sends her back over 300 years. When she was a girl in England. ” I tell you it’s uncanny!” Mrs.Chappel is vehement!

Lombardi makes a horrible prediction that there will be a supernatural visitation that night and in fact the locals do find the Jefferson shack wrecked, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson are found brutally murdered, smashed against the walls, and an odd wet spot on the carpeting. When Lombardi comes onto the scene wearing his black gloves and coal black piercing eyes, he seems unfazed as if he knew this would happen. As Ted and Dorothy are taking a nightly walk along the beach, King approaches them very agitated. They find Lombardi leaving  the Jefferson’s murder scene a cool as the center seed of a cucumber.

The couple call the police, and Lt. Ed James is on the scene. They discover that both the victims have broken necks. And oddly, there are pieces of seaweed, leaving a trail out the door. Lt. James notices the wet spot and tells his sergeant to get some floor from the kitchen. The powder forms a strange and curious footprint. This makes Lt. James think back about Lombardi’s warning, something about a creature roaming amongst them, from way back in the beginning of time, the first life form…over a million years old…huge and indestructible.

Lombardi walks along the shore as the she creature dematerializes into a sparkling ghost that moves back into the ocean.
Police Lt. Ed James is on the scene of the murders now.
Never seen anything like it…her necks broken like a pile driver hit her…his too!
There’s seaweed leading all the way out through the door!
A curious damp spot on the carpeting…
Ted Erickson tells Lt James that he saw Lombardi leave the scene of the crime.

Lt.James talking to Ted, “You see Doctor that’s how civilized we are scratch the veneer and what do you find… a whole carload of superstitions waiting to be catered to… vampires, witchcraft, supernatural creatures being brought back from the past!” Ted answers him earnestly, “He’s got a lot of people listening to him”

The sergeant tells Lt. James, “It’s not me… it’s my wife” that believes all that stuff about the supernatural!
Johnny, the carnival worker, gives Lombardi a hard time about keeping Andrea under hypnosis so long. Lombardi does not like Johnny sticking his nose in his affairs!

When Lombardi is not doing guest appearances at wealthy private parties, he works at a seaside carnival. His captive, oops I mean assistant Andrea lies in ghostly white in a catatonic state on a couch, in Lombardi’s showplace. Andrea is luscious as she is mysterious and possess a strange beauty.

The way Lombardi keeps her in a trance evokes a type of necrophiliac behavior, but for 1956, it was enough to focus on the beautiful girl asleep on the couch under the evil magician’s control! There are suggestions, that Lombardi has been intimate with Andrea and is sexually aroused by her beauty and her vulnerability. He is an Egoist after all, and control is a big turn on for him. What’s more powerful than an unconscious subject. Just the thought of his greasy Snidely Whiplash mustache touching her lips sends my skin crawling!

“Now I will touch you and slowly you’ll awake….” Necrophiliac

Andrea begs to be free of him, but he reminds her “As long as I’m alive, I’ll possess you… it is something beyond yourself that makes you need me!” But Andrea responds, ” You’ve taken my soul away from me.”

Meanwhile, Ted sees Andrea and his gaze is transfixed on her, She’s mysterious and an outsider, not like Dorothy who’s part of all the ‘Elegant decay’ as Ted puts it. Lt James takes an interest in Lombardi for the murders of the Jeffersons but can’t pin it on him.

Chappel sees a fortune from the front page newspaper story about Lombardi’s grisly predictions and thinks he can make millions out of a two-bit side show act. Chappel sees Lombardi books, television shows etc.

“I don’t have an act!…I have knowledge!”

He offers Lombardi an even split in the profits and becomes his manager. They set up another performance at Chappel’s beach home with some of his most outspoken critics there for the publicity. “Give em some more of that She Creature stuff!” Lombardi tells Chappel she might come out of the ocean tonight! “That’s the stuff, the big lie, play it up big, we gotta shake ’em!” Lombardi tells him, “We’ll shake ’em.”

Rising up from the ocean, the She Creature, sparkles and mists as she starts to materialize into her frightening solid form.

Lombardi puts Andrea in another deep trance. “I command you, leave your body!” Then as if birthed out of the churning briny ocean depth’s The She Creature materializes and begins lumbering (which monsters are apt to do in these things) up the pier steps.

Another murder occurs, poor Johnny who’s given Lombardi grief about keeping Andrea under hypnosis is tossed like a rag doll cot, book and all! Lt. James arrests Lombardi but Chappel’s attorney gets him out on bail.

At the party there is a tête-à-tête between the two hypnotists as Ted first gets taunted by by Dorothy’s ex-fiance Bob a drunken William Hudson (Attack of the 50ft Woman-he was mostly drunk then too) into challenging Lombardi.

Lombardi is combative and harasses Dr Ted Erickson in front of the guests to play a hypnotic tug of war over Andrea’s consciousness. To see who can gain the most control over Andrea’s mind and spirit. Does Andrea have any say in  defense of her own body, no less her mind and spirit?This point is not drawn out in the film. It’s more about the sensationalism of the truth behind past life regression, and the wiles of the idle rich.

Andrea starts out by resisting Lombardi. Lombardi calls out Ted, claiming that he had accused him of being a fraud and a charlatan, so now is his chance to expose him. Lombardi shall give living proof of reincarnation, of perpetual life itself.

At the party, a few other personalities show up along the way, one disembodied soul named Elizabeth from the 17th Century. Lombardi asks Elizabeth to materialize, open a window, close the curtains that surround Andrea, which an invisible force does do. Mrs.Chappel a true believer can actually see the spirit separate from Andrea’s body. Lombardi also asks Dr. Erickson to verify the facts that Elizabeth has given as a person from the 17th century. Ted verifies that the facts given are authentic. Then King, Dorothy’s dog comes in agitates, growling, baring it’s teeth. Lombardi starts to calm and control him. “There aren’t many who can control an animal by hypnosis.” He asks Elizabeth to escort King out of the house, and then tells her she may return to Andrea’s body. Suddenly he stares off to the side intensely, “Why do you hesitate?”

The sliding glass doors open by themselves, as if an unseen force has moved them!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to say that the creature who has cost so many lives is among us even now!”

During this high-society side show antic, Lombardi breaks out into a nefarious warning,

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to say that the creature who has cost so many lives is here among us even now!”

Apparently she’s in the sea preparing to come out! The guests all scramble and stir about and Mrs. Chappel faints.

“You’re a clever man, I don’t know how you do it, but it’s not through science as I know it!” 

Lombardi responds, “I have a way of proving it to you, but it’s going to be harsh!”

Now Ted demands that Lombardi bring Andrea out of her trance she barely has a pulse, which is so dangerously bordering on catalepsy, Ted tells him to get her out of it. Lombardi is the only one who has the power to do this but of course, refuses.

“She stays as she is”

You have no right to leave her like this”

“I am my own right, if you wish to take her out of hypnosis you may do so.”

“You know I can’t”

I’ll leave it here. I hope you find the mere 77 minutes to watch this 1950’s schlocktacular fun and see Beulah, The She Creature. Beulah reappears in varying degrees of her former self in several other b-movies of the decade, such as Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, Voodoo Woman and How To Make A Monster.

A special note: I apologize to Chester Morris for calling him smarmy. It’s his characterization of Dr. Lombardi that inspires my repulsion, actually sad to say it was during a theatrical production in New Hope, Pennsylvania during the 70s, that Morris died taking an over-dose of barbiturates.

Chester Morris, truly handsome and tragic actor of suspense, film noir, best known for his role as Boston Blackie

This post was a special request by a very nice reader of mine Thomas Luca! I do hope he likes what I’ve done with the story…Until next time…don’t let any greasy hypnotists, try and regress you back to jolly old England or France, or the Primeval Ooze, chances are, you were royalty and might have wound up losing your head! -Joey (MonsterGirl)

2 thoughts on “The She Creature (1956) Bridey Murphy’s Reincarnation meets Beulah the Busty Crusty ‘She Creature’ from Paul Blaisdell’s imagination.

    1. Thomas, it was my pleasure, there’s nothing like these old b-movies-thanks so much for being such an avid follower! -Joey

      Like

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