She (1984) Blu-ray Review: Post Apocalyptic Nonsense

I wonder if you could draw a line from the sword and sandal epics from the early 1960s to the post-apocalyptic movies of the 1980s. In other words, did movies like Spartacus and Hercules in the Haunted World influence films like Mad MaxThe Beastmaster, and the movie I’m currently reviewing, She. All of these films feature both men and women in revealing costumes, whether it be form-fitting togas, short skirts with those feather-looking pterugas (and who says you don’t learn new words when writing movie reviews?), or general leg- and navel-bearing clothing. They do battle against hordes of evil with swords and axes no matter the actual time setting. While the sword and sandal pictures were set in the past, the post-apocalyptic movies are naturally set in the future amongst radiation, mutants, and lots more violence and nudity. But there definitely seems to be a connection between the two. Seriously, if you are a freelance writer, I think I just came up with a pitch for you.

She falls directly into the so-bad-it’s-good category. The script is incoherent, the acting a mess, and the directing sloppy, but it is so goofy, so ridiculously bad that I had a great time watching it. This is a film that features mummy-wrapped mutants, toga-wearing vampires, laser-eyed gods, and a gaggle of Nazis and commies, and yet not one lick of sense. It is a film which names three of its characters Tom, Dick, and Hari, and another one simply She, the latter of which is a goddess though the only superpower she seems to possess is an ability to reveal her belly button in every shot.

Ahem. Opening titles inform us the story takes place 23 years after something called The Cancellation, which presumably was a nuclear war. It definitely created a near world-ending apocalyptic event and since we run into some radiated mutants presumably that event involved a nuclear disaster of some sort, but the ins and outs of The Cancellation are pretty vague. We find Tom (David Gross), Dick (Harrison Muller) and Hari (Elena Wiedermann) wandering the countryside when they are attacked by a group of Swastika-wearing bad guys. I presume they are Nazis because of the Swastikas but they spout no ideology and the rest of their costumes look like something the production team picked up at a rummage sale – there are football helmets with spikes glued onto them, Roman centurion headgear, magician’s caps, and an assortment of whips and swords. They kidnap the girl and flee into the vast wastelands.

Dick and Tom, sans Hari, spend the rest of the film’s run time on a quest to rescue the girl, running into an assortment of oddballs, screwballs, and general nasties out to kill them. First up is She (Sandahl Bergman), goddess to a beautiful tribe of women. Initially, they try to capture our heroes but after consulting with the local oracle She decides to give the boys some help.

To give an example of the sheer perfection of lunacy this film brings, to consult with the oracle She enters into a roomful of boxes of which various bad guys burst out of to attack her. One has to wonder how long they were in those boxes, and who put them in there in the first place? Did they have snacks? She disposes of them fairly easily, then consults with the seer while taking a bath in a cave. The bath acts as some kind of recharging power, but since She never presents any mystical powers one quickly realizes the bath’s true purpose – getting Sandahl Bergman to take her top off.

She (I capitalize the “S” in that word both because it begins this sentence but also it is her proper name, all of which makes me wonder what pronouns she uses) follows the boys and brings along her own bodyguard Shanda (Quintillion’s Kessler) and the four finally begin the episodic quest to save Hari. They run into the aforementioned vampires who live in an idyllic community of pleasure which seems like paradise until the sun goes down and the blood-sucking begins. Later, they find another town filled with Stalin-esque posters and guards wearing hammer and sickle insignias all in praise of Gordan (Gregory Snegoff), the god who can throw people with his mind when his eyes glow. One presumes his powers are from the radiation and not some unknown spiritual power pack, but who knows with this film?

There’s a group of Nukes who are all wrapped in bandages and might be radioactive but they are disposed of so quickly it is hard to care. They do carry chainsaws which makes one wonder about guns in this world. I mean if they have the technology and fuel for chainsaws why don’t they have guns? Then there is a mad scientist who puts our heroes inside these plastic bags that hang from the ceiling. He and his giant, tutu-wearing partner are up to no good but they are taken care of at nap time with a little house fire.

It all wraps up with an epic battle against the Nazis. And when I say “epic,” I mean the most horribly staged fight I’ve ever seen put on film. It is the ridiculously bad conclusion to a movie I cannot believe actually got made. How anyone read this nonsense script and gave it a green light is beyond me. How they then saw the final film and gave it more money to distribute the film must have been an act of one of the film’s many gods. However, it came to be one has to rejoice for it is rare to find such glorious garbage to watch these days, and in high definition no less.

Kino Lorber presents She with a 1080 p transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Extras include an interview with writer/director Avi Nesher and several trailers.

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Mat Brewster

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