She Creature (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

The story starts in Ireland at the very beginning of the 20th century, following the fate of two carnies who are on the skids. Their little traveling show consists of fake zombies and mermaids, and everyone is wise to them, so their occupation is obsolescent.
Then one night, a stranger shows them that mermaids exist - and he has one, a beautiful woman imprisoned in a reinforced glass tank, and further encumbered by chains. Obviously she must be very dangerous, but that doesn't stop the carnies from stealing the mermaid and sailing her off to America, where they hope to profit from exhibiting her.

NUDITY REPORT

Rya Kihlstedt, as the mermaid, is topless throughout nearly the entire movie.

DVD info from Amazon
Commentary by Stan Winston and Shane Mahan
Making of featurette
Photo gallery
Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85

 

Up until that point, it was a pretty stylish little film, with some very impressive set design, creepy fog-bound atmosphere, and a great look and feel reminiscent of the best old creature classics. The cast was surprisingly good for a made-for-cable monster movie. Rufus Sewell and Carla Gugino come up with some crazy accents and convincing characters. At that point the film was going for "eerie" and mysterious".

Unfortunately, once the mermaid transforms into a scaly and powerful beast and starts chowing down on the entire male population of the ship, then it just becomes your usual "die in nasty ways" movie, albeit without Brave Sir Robin.

Surprisingly, this version of the mermaid legend creates sexual tension between the mermaid and female humans, which definitely qualifies this as the Citizen Kane of evil lesbian mermaid films. 

Premiered on cable TV

Tuna's Thoughts

She Creature (2001) is a made for cable that, for me at least, rises well above the usual monster gore-fest. A tiny carny freak-show in turn of the century Ireland, on their last night, is introduced to a real mermaid by an elderly man, who was afraid that their mermaid in the show was a real one, and wanted to warn them about the dangers. Being good carneys, they steal the mermaid, reinforced glass tank and all, and board a ship for America and fame and fortune with Ringling Brothers. They also take a journal kept by the man's wife.

Once aboard ship, they learn the hard way about the nature of mermaids. Seems mermaids, sirens, Circes, Lorelies, etc are all the same creature, and have a damned good reason for luring sailors. They love seafood. The stolen mermaid, it turns out, is the chief gatherer for the colony. She is shape-shifting, telepathic, and has lesbian tendencies. This was, I thought, a very original slant on myths and legends. The other thing that impressed me was the great visuals, atmosphere, and make-up effects. Rya Kihlstedt, who was topless through the entire film, was the best looking mermaid effect I have yet seen in a film. Yes, it is a gore monster movie, but with some very strong elements. C+.
 

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. (Tuna agrees) If you like monster movies, you'll find it to be a stylish one. I don't like monster movies, and it had no humor, so it was a tedious experience for me, enlivened only by Kihlstedt's nudity and the high-concept sets.

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