July 24, 2014

A quartet of victims shipwrecks on the worst possible island (since it is utterly infested with the titular creatures) in this horror yarn that snuck into 1950s drive-in cinemas.

The film opens with a news report that lets us know our cast is already lost at sea due to Hurricane Emily (apparently, it was too costly to shoot a shipwreck scene, though there is some awesome stock footage of a hurricane pounding Miami). Cut to an island where our band is making do with the situation. Captain Fred is happy to be alive, as is his assistant, and their radio man, Sammie. The fourth member of the group is Jerrie, and she is pretty upset that all of her clothing got wrinkled.

They bicker a little before deciding to follow some odd tracks that appear to belong to humanoid women. They leave the assistant behind and you can feel free to write him off since his imminent murder occurs off-screen anyway. The tracks lead our band to a happening jungle spot where the “Diana Nellis Dancers” are performing. Turns out these ladies are captives who escaped the clutches of a Nazi scientist, Osler. It is no surprise that they are easily recaptured (note to self: once I have effected my escape from a Nazi mad scientist, it is probably best to ignore the inclination to do a ‘lucky me’ dance).

Our cast is soon captured by Dr. Osler’s small band of loyal henchmen who are led by his hulking assistant Igor. The assistant is one mean mama jama and rocks a bullwhip, which he employs to abuse the captives. The cell next to our heroes is full of She Demons whose origins are soon explained, somewhat murkily I might add. Suffice to say these scabbed up lab rats are supposed to be part of some Nazi super soldier plan that appears to have stalled.

The reason things have gotten bogged down is that Herr Oster has an eye for the ladies and way too many projects going on. He wants to restore his wife’s looks, produce She Demons for the return of the Third Reich, and patent an energy program harnessing the power of lava. Truth is, he spends way too much time helping himself to his femme captives to accomplish much.

We are treated to a hefty dose of 1950s sadism before an airstrike sets off the lava, which tries to take out the whole cast. The film’s reason for being seems to be these tortures sequences, which involve getting the cast to say Uncle while being water boarded, whipped and pawed by our goose-stepping bad guys. The She Demons don’t get to do much of anything other than swipe at guards from behind bars, but they sure look mean. All in all, this is surely one way to kill an hour and 15 minutes.

This may be pointless and dumb, but it is a lot of fun to watch in the right frame of mind. The actors are absolutely awful and recite their lines like they learned them to avoid flunking a quiz. The makeup is pretty laughable, with the Demons looking like they were dipped in oatmeal (the stuff flakes off a bit every time the actors move their mouths). The best special effect turns out to be the Dancers but their well-choreographed routine doesn’t match with the under rehearsed cast.

Good for a chuckle but that play where your child must sing the praises of Arbor Day was probably better written.

1958, unrated.

Best Lines

“I’m surrounded with idiots.”

“I never saw a drum that could beat itself.”

“Let’s follow the bloodstains.”