Vengeance of She (1968)
Carol is a young girl wondering across Europe plagued by dreams of a life she doesn't remember and the name Ayesha repeating in her head. When she reaches the coast of France she is drawn to a yacht owned by George, a business man running from his debts. Also aboard is his psychiatrist friend Philip who tries to help her make sense of her dreams. Mysterious forces cause George to have a heart attack and the yacht is forced to divert to North Africa where Carol needs to go. Followed by Philip the pair arrive at the kingdom of Kuma where the ruler Killikrates tells her she is the reincarnation of Ayesha, also known as She Who Must be Obeyed. However both Carol and Killikrates are being manipulated by the sinister Magi Man-Hari who wants immortality for himself.
She was the first film I covered for this feature and I liked it a lot. It was an old-fashioned boy's own adventure and had a great cast including Ursula Andress, Bernard Cribbins and Hammer stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
This sequel turned up three years later and sadly lacks the charm, scale and fun of the first film. To start with it has a contemporary setting which damages the film's credibility. It's easy to imagine somewhere like Kuma existing in the Rider-Haggard-written past that was all pith helmets and British pluck. It seems ridiculously out of place and cheesy in a world of swinging sixties cocktail parties and business men running from deals gone bad.
In She the plot gets to Kuma pretty quickly, but here there is so much faffing about on boats and in the desert that by the time the main characters get there they have very little time to wind things up. Instead we are treated to Killikrates and chums watching Carol's journey progress like a particularly dull reality TV show.
Then we have the leading lady. Olinka Berova has very clearly been cast because she is an attractive woman who bares a passing resemblance to Andress. I think the hope was that it would be enough to carry the audience past the fact that she can't act. Poor Carol has a terrible time of it. In the opening five minutes a truck driver who gives her a lift tries to rape her, only to be crushed by his truck... and things get worse for her from there. She's psychically manipulated, watches several people who try to help her die and is sold as a slave to a Bedouin tribesman. Through all of this Berova acts like all of these are no more than minor setbacks to an otherwise OK day.
We also have Edward Judd as the all-action psychiatrist Philip, who is fine but completely unmemorable. He and Carol fall in love for no reason whatsoever, apart from the fact that the film needs a central romance. When they finally reaches Kuma, for the last half hour of the film, he spends 20 minutes of it locked in a room being mean to dancing girls while a variety of characters visit him to explain the plot. They try to have a science verses sorcery sub-plot where everyone, including him, describes his job as being a “Doctor of the mind” but it never really develops into anything and in the end he makes no impact. As I sit here writing this I'm struggling to even think what he looks like. He has black hair. That's all I can remember.
Aside from a criminally wasted cameo from Plague of the Zombies' André Morell (who shows up dressed like Lawrence of Arabia and gets unceremoniously blown off a roof) there is a lack of any of Hammer's regular stable of talented character actors. Sitcom bingo card holders can cross off The Detectives' George Sewell as Philip's sidekick Harry, who suffers the indignity of being drowned in a muddy puddle. Derek Godfrey as Men-Hari does little more than twirl a moustache and Noel Willman as Za-Tor just dodders around until Men-Hari stabs him and then reveals the pointless plot twist that he's Men-Hari's father, which has the emotional impact of putting on a shoe.
The only surprising name on the cast list is a returning Jon Richardson as Killikrates. It's surprising in so far as I think he's supposed to be reprising his role as Leo in She who at the end of that film was made immortal, but his previous name is never mentioned, nor why he has taken to calling himself Killikrates. Presumably this is because if it was overtly the same character they would have had to pay someone to use him.
This isn't a terrible film it's just dull and has no reason to exist. It lacks every quality that made the first film so enjoyable and has “shameless cash-in sequel” written all over it. It's disappointing on every level and as a poor relation to She is probably best forgotten.
Join me next time when I will be watching the 1968 film The Devil Rides Out.