SHE (1965) Movie Review – The Harrowing House of Hammer

Image culled from Wikipedia

Despite the wide range of genres undertaken by Hammer Films, it is sometimes off-putting to commit to one of the studio’s efforts that is not contained to the well-traversed gothic horror realm.

But then again, Hammer had produced some impressive adventure pieces before with such entries as Captain Clegg showcasing some great promise for these now lesser-known properties.

And fittingly, this 1965 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s She presents us with another well-constructed adventure tale with an epic scope.

With Peter Cushing portraying the role of the lovable English expeditionary, Professor Holly, we are quickly able to become invested in the unfolding plot of an uncharted kingdom and the otherworldly forces at play within. What’s more, with the stunning Ursula Andress cast as the titular role of Ayesha and the brilliant set pieces used in bringing the city of Kuma to life onscreen, the movie is instilled with a unique beauty and elegance that is not common in many Hammer works.

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Yet there with all of these factors at work, a problem does arise when one considers the central role of Leo Vincey, perceivably the main protagonist of the story, played by John Richardson. While his character does carry a definite atypical role in She as the reincarnated form of a past ruler of the lost city, his often flat and cold delivery makes him a rather dull and unsupportable lead. As such, the character with the most interesting back-story is left impotent while Cushing and Christopher Lee as High Priest Billali stealing the show.

But with all of this said, She remains a fascinating spectacle of a Hammer film that works best in creating a mystical and epic atmosphere with some terrific performances and impressive set designs.

It may not exactly be an entry of “Hammer Horror,” but it is certainly an engaging adventure that should be considered essential viewing for devote Hammer fans.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5