Monday, October 10, 2011

Movie Monday: She

This week's movie is the 1980s adventure fantasy She!

Yes, for those of you paying attention, I did pretty much take last week's opening sentence and replace a "3" with an "8"--that's because right after posting last week's review of the 1932 movie She, my pal Dan O'Connor stated, "I'm not ashamed to say I was really hoping you'd be reviewing the 1982 version." My first response was, "What 1982 version?"

Yes, somehow, despite the ten thousand hours I spent watching cable TV and toiling at a video store, I somehow missed this 1982 version of H. Rider Haggard's She, and was overjoyed to find that it, too, was on Netflix WI! So I queued this baby up immediately.
Over some kinda nifty animated scenes of skulls and grim reapers (the kind of thing you'd see drawn on the notebook of your typical teenaged Iron Maiden fan), this 1982 version opens with a quote from the original novel:
...unfortunately(?), this is the only bit from the original novel that this film gets anywhere near. No, this She charts her own course. You've come a long way, baby!

The film proper starts with a title card that says "23 Years after the Cancellation" (I hear ya, I felt that way about Sports Night), and then we meet two men, Tom and Dick, and Tom's sister Hari (no, really). The three visit some sort of trading post, full of crap left over from the apocalypse. A roving bad of football uniform-wearing Nazis arrive, beat everybody up, and drag Hari off.

Tom and Dick end up in this big castle where all the people inside worship "She", played by Sandahl Bergman:
sg an introduction to a woman warrior, this is pretty weak stuff. She seems more like a hostage than a demi-god. Oh well.

I could get into the plot details, but it would be like describing a dream. She, as written and directed by Avi Nesher, is incomprehensible. There's a scene where She (who gets kidnapped by Tom and Harry fairly easily, again undercutting the whole "She is a God" thing) ends up in this cave full of old crates, which contain bad guys who, presumably, just wait around for days, weeks on end for some poor slob to come wandering by just so they can jump out and grab them.

She is then grabbed by a guy in a Frankenstein mask, wearing a suit and mismatched socks:
For most of the scene, they try and hide the fact that the attacker is just wearing a cheap Frankenstein mask, then they ruin it by showing us a big close-up of the thing, just after She bites off a hunk of his neck:
...if I may pause for a moment, I want to make this point: look at this still. I think this is what George Lucas sees when he looks at the original Star Wars movies. In his mind, the f/x in those movies are so out-dated that they look like this, and he just can't stand it. Hence, the endless fidgeting with movies that were perfect as is. The rest of us can discern the difference between the Holy Trilogy and this cheapjack POS, but to Lucas, A New Hope might as well be She. Okay, back to the review!

The closest She gets to replicating anything from the original book is when, after She is attacked by Frankenstein (whose head bursts as if filled with air...huh?), she/She retreats to a rejuvenating pool (not flame) and is healed. Also unlike the 1932 version, this one has boobies!
This scene is intercut with footage of an old woman who babbles on about She's destiny, or something. The old woman is played by someone named Maria Quasimodo, which is the greatest name in the history of anything.

There's more, so much more. We meet more new characters than you'd see in any five movies: guys dressed as mummies, a big hairy guy in a pink tutu, a gang of sort-of yuppies, who turn for some reason into werewolves:

...a guy with laser eyes...

...and this guy, who clearly had every episode of Mork and Mindy taped on his Betamax:
Director Nesher gives his guy several minutes of scenes to vamp, and he is painfully, excrutiatingly unfunny. Maybe if you were coked up.

There's another scene set in a garbage compactor, but without that cool one-eyed creature that came with Kenner's Death Star playset (remember those pieces of foam that were supposed to stand in for the garbage? They tasted awful!), that's set to horribly inappropriate 80s hair-metal.

She and her best pal Shandra go with Tom and Dick to rescue Hari, and they do. When Tom and Hari leave, She gets upset, because she loves the big lug:
...this guy went straight from here to either Beastmaster or The Blue Lagoon.

As I said, She is a total mess. In the beginning, I thought that it was just a really bad movie; incompetently shot, acted, and scored. But about halfway through, I realized that the filmmakers clearly didn't care, and were going for that kind of "what the hell" kitchen-sink approach that maybe, somehow, congeal Spam-like into something, anything, resembling an actual capital-M Movie. Hell, at one point even She herself says, "This isn't about sense." And how!

I guess this means I have to talk about the 1965 She next week, doesn't it?


The Black Box Blog said...

After that...yeah. It's the only way to make good....;)

Robert M. Lindsey said...

"Maria Quasimodo, which is the greatest name in the history of anything." What a great line!

The 1965 version has Ursula Undressed, so that should be good.

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