Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mari Blanchard, Jack Kelly, Albert Dekker, John Archer, Fay Baker, Marie Blake, Paul Cavanagh, George Baxter, Helen Jay, Joan Bradshaw, X Brands, Tod Griffin
Written by: Kurt Neumann, Carroll Young, based on a story by John Jessel (a.k.a. Stanley G. Weinbaum)
Directed by: Kurt Neumann
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English
Running Time: 77
Date: 26/02/2013

She Devil (1957)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Devil' May Care

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kurt Neumann, the German-born director of the original The Fly (1958), as well as several Tarzan movies and other "B" films, made this interesting, above-average sci-fi gem.

Two scientists, the older Dr. Richard Bach (Albert Dekker) and the younger Dr. Dan Scott (Jack Kelly) live in the same house and work together. Dan has developed a kind of healing serum based on the natural adaptive qualities of various animals. They decide to test it out on a terminal case, a beautiful woman with tuberculosis: Kyra Zelas (Mari Blanchard).

She makes a miraculous recovery, but soon discovers that, in addition to selfish, criminal and homicidal tendencies, she has adaptive abilities as well. In a department store, she steals a man's money, hides in a dressing room, and changes her hair from brunette to blonde, then walks out unnoticed. The doctors must try to figure out what to do with their creation, complicated by the fact that Dan has fallen in love with her and her next scheme involves marrying a man for money.

Neumann presents all this in a clean, widescreen frame, rather clinical and matter-of-fact, which tends to work with the story. It helps that Blanchard has such a strange, mesmerizing look: she's beautiful, but in a kind of odd way.

It's based on a story by Stanley G. Weinbaum, who is known in sci-fi circles as a highly influential author, inspiring everyone from Asimov to Bradbury. Yet his career was short-lived and barely any of his works were ever adapted to the big screen outside of this one.

Olive Films released She Devil on DVD and Blu-ray, and, as always, it's a welcome addition to the world from that intrepid company.

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