Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Vengeance of She

Olinka Berova as Carol/Ayesha.
I've been a Hammer Films aficionado since my youth and I've seen almost all its movies. One which eluded me for decades was The Vengeance of She, the 1968 sequel to She (1965). The latter film shows up on television frequently, probably due to Ursula Andress' appearance in the title role. The lesser-known sequel has become an oddity--but one which I recently found on eBay for $4.00.

Olinka Berova stars as Carol, a young woman who may or may not be the reincarnation of Ayesha, the once-immortal queen of a desert civilization. Carol experiences intense headaches, bad dreams, and memory loss. That may explain why she awakes on a French Riviera beach one morning, strips down to her underwear, and swims out to a millionaire's yacht. She can offer no explanation for her actions, but all the males on the boat are in favor of her remaining a passenger. (Well, the captain does make one of those ominous remarks about her bringing bad luck.)

The yacht's owner dies of a heart attack shortly after rescuing Carol from an inexplicable dive into the ocean. That should have been the cue to cut ties with her. Instead, one of the yacht's passengers, psychiatrist Philip Smith offers to accompany Carol on a desert journey to the lost city of Kuma. After some mishaps along the way, she and Philip reach Kuma, where Carol is hailed as its ruler. Things don't fare as well as for Philip, who is imprisoned by a high priest hoping to gain immortality for himself.

The Vengeance of She is an initially promising follow-up to She. The opening scene of Carol walking down a mountain road in a white fur and high heels is certainly unexpected. Ditto for the song over the credits with lyrics like" "Oh, who is She?" The sudden demise of a lecherous trucker and Carol's uncanny silence add to the intrigue. But once the yacht lands in North Africa, it becomes clear that The Vengeance of She is a role-reversal rehash of the original. This time around, Ayesha is being summoned to Kuma while her immortal lover Killikrates awaits her.

Edward Judd as Philip.
While the cast isn't as strong as the one in She (e.g., no Peter Cushing), it makes the most of the mediocre material. Edward Judd, who was excellent in the earlier sci fi classic The Day the Earth the Caught Fire, makes for a serviceable hero. Derek Godfrey is appropriately despicable as the nasty high priest. And, as Killikrates, handsome John Richardson provides the link back to She. I have always found him to be an exceptionally dull leading man, although he gets one of the film's most memorable lines. Speaking of Ayesha, he notes: "She is mine and I have need of her."

As the replacement for Ms. Andress, Olinka Berova certainly looked the part even if her thespian skills were suspect. The Czechoslovakian beauty's real name was Olga Schoberova (I don't know why Hammer thought Olinka was an improvement over Olga). She spent most of her acting career in European films. Her second husband, from 1972-92, was Warner Bros. executive John Calley, who received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award during the 2009 Oscars ceremony.

Actually, Hammer intended for Ursula Andress to star in the sequel, which was originally titled Ayesha--Daughter of She and then later The Return of She. However, Andress' contract expired before production could begin. Susan Denberg, another blonde beauty who later starred in Frankenstein Created Woman, was also considered for the title role.

The Vengeance of She is nowhere near as bad as some critics claim. It ultimately lacks originality, but one can say that about most sequels. It's certainly watchable, though the poster promises a lot more. It features Ms. Berova in a short, skimpy tunic wielding a whip with the tag line: "Kneel before She. The ultimate female who used her beauty to bring kingdoms to their downfall...and men to their knees."

Here's a clip from our YouTube channel showing Ayesha's big entrance:


  1. H'm. I think I'm going to have to make it all the way through the Ursula Andress She before I get to this one. I haven't managed that task yet, but I'm a stubborn cuss. One of these days.

  2. There's a 1935 film adaptation of She that's quite good (folks who like Lost Horizon might like this one), although Helen Gahagan is no Ursula Andress!

    I also recall seeing an earlier version. I think it's the silent 1925 version and remember that I enjoyed it.

  3. These old movies had a tendency to overdo the sound of certain things. Listen to the sound of the footsteps when everyone is being sent out of that room.

  4. I didn't know there was a sequel to the 1965 "She." As was mentioned there is the 1935 She based on the H. Rider Haggard story with Helen Gahagan and Randolph Scott. The story was made "famous by the line "She who must be obeyed." I don't that I'll get to see this sequel but I wouldn't mind seeing Ursula Andress again.