The Vengeance of She

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The Vengeance of She
The Vengeance of She.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cliff Owen
Produced by Aida Young
Written by Peter O'Donnell
Based on characters created by H. Rider Haggard
Starring John Richardson
Edward Judd
Music by Mario Nascimbene
Cinematography Wolf Suschitzky
Edited by James Needs
Production
company
Distributed by Warner-Pathe (UK)
20th Century Fox (USA)
Release dates
14 April 1968 (UK)
1 May 1968 (USA)
Running time
101 mins
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget £350,000[1]
Box office $113,300 (US)[2]

The Vengeance of She is a 1968 British fantasy film directed by Cliff Owen and starring John Richardson, Olga Schoberová, Edward Judd and Colin Blakely.[3] It bears little in common with the novel Ayesha: The Return of She by H. Rider Haggard. It was made by Hammer Films as a loose sequel to the 1965 hit film She.

Plot[edit]

A beautiful young European girl, Carol, is drawn through mental telepathy to the ancient lost city of Kuma, there to become the reincarnation of its lost former ruler, Ayesha, and consort of her predecessor's lover, Kallikrates. In return, Men-Hari, a member of the Magi, the ancient Chaldean race of wise men, will also be allowed to enter the sacred flame and become immortal, which will expand his already formidable mental powers to the point where he will be able to take over the entire world. To achieve this, however, he must bring Carol to Kallikrates before the sacred flame is ignited during a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical alignment. Men-Hari therefore uses his powers ruthlessly to compel Carol to come to Kuma.

Men-Hari is opposed by his father, Za-Tor, longtime leader of the Magi, and by Dr. Phillip Smith, a psychiatrist, who meets and falls in love with Carol during her journey. In the course of their travels, Carol and Phillip are separated. A local mystic attempts to break Men-Hari's control over Carol, but Men-Hari learns of this. Partially at Kallikrates' bidding, Men-Hari wrests the leadership of the Magi away from Za-Tor, and leads the rest of the Magi in a forbidden occult ritual to overpower and destroy the mystic. Shortly thereafter, Carol and Phillip are re-united, and they continue their journey to Kuma.

Upon their arrival, Carol is welcomed, but Phillip, whom Men-Hari rightly perceives as a threat to his evil scheme, is imprisoned. Za-Tor comes to Phillip and discusses the situation with him, and comes to realize the danger in Men-Hari's plot. He agrees to do whatever he can to help Phillip and then departs. Sharna, one of Kallikrates' servant girls, and who is in love with Kallikrates, helps Phillip to escape, while Za-Tor speaks to his assistant in an effort to incite a rebellion against Men-Hari. The plot succeeds to some extent, and Phillip arrives at Kallikrates' chambers just as the sacred flame is ignited. Before Carol can walk through the flame, however, Phillip desperately calls out to Carol, even as he is seized by Men-Hari. Phillip's cries succeed in breaking Men-Hari's control over Carol, and at that moment Za-Tor confronts Men-Hari, explaining his plot to Kallikrates. Realizing that Za-Tor is telling the truth, Kallikrates orders that Carol and Phillip both be released. He also bars Men-Hari from entering the sacred flame, and denounces him as the traitor that he is.

Stung to fury by the frustration of his plot, Men-Hari stabs his father in the stomach with a long dagger. As Phillip rushes to Za-Tor's aid, Men-Hari attempts to kill him, but Kallikrates' guards kill Men-Hari with their spears at their king's command. Kallikrates, now despondent beyond all reasoning, then commits suicide by re-entering the sacred flame, despite Sharna's efforts to stop him. As the others watch in horror, Kallikrates ages hundreds of years in a matter of seconds, then dies and crumbles to dust. As Phillip and Carol leave the chamber and head for the main entrance to the city, Za-Tor revives just long enough to pray for Kuma's destruction, since its people have now become evil beyond all hope of rehabilitation. In direct response, the sacred flame explodes outward, and an earthquake begins to tear the city apart. Phillip and Carol just barely make it out of the entrance before the city crumbles and collapses, killing everyone within. As the two lovers begin making their way back to civilization, the last fragment of a sculpture of Ayesha is engulfed by the sacred flame, signifying the end of Kuma and the Magi.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Hammer Film Productions had planned a sequel to She within three months of its completion. It was originally meant to be called Ayesha - Daughter of She and starring Andress. However Andress' contract with Hammer expired and she refused to appear in the sequel; Susan Denberg was announced as replacement but eventually newcomer Olga Berova was cast instead.[4]

Shooting took place at MGM/EMI studios in England and in Monte Carlo and Almeria, Spain starting on 26 June 1967.[1]

Release[edit]

The film was poorly received, critically and commercially.[4] It was widely criticized as having little if any resemblance to the H. Rider Haggard stories on which it was supposedly based.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bruce G. Hallenbeck, British Cult Cinema: Hammer Fantasy and Sci-Fi, Hemlock Books 2011 p161
  2. ^ "U.S. Films' Share-of-Market Profile", Variety, 12 May 1971 p 179
  3. ^ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/56459
  4. ^ a b Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio, Hammer films: An exhaustive filmography, McFarland, 1996. p 292-294.

External links[edit]