Wednesday, April 22, 2015

She Gods of Shark Reef - 1958

Filmed as part of a back-to-back production in Hawaii by Roger Corman, She Gods of Shark Reef is a mostly forgotten, formulaic Corman film.  To see the Corman formula you can click here, or I'll just go copy it out of the previous review and post it for you:

1) "strong" female lead - the lady that seemingly is a major character who is strong outwardly, but is actually just hiding behind her outward strength and is in truth just as girly as all women were depicted in the 50's

2) lotsa dialogue - sure, it is usually plot dialogue, and one could argue that it's needed, but man is there lotsa dialogue and talking. Shut the fuck up already! Move on!

3) Tomboys - going back to that female thing, there is usually a tomboy in a Corman movie. This girl will wear jeans, plaid colors, and sometimes be called by a nickname like "Princess" because hahahaha, it's FUNNY! They're calling HER princess!!

4) As little monster scenes as seemingly possible - Yes, please do save the monster for the last 2 minutes and have it only appear like twice in total. NO! We want to see the fucking monster!

5) Ma and Pa - there's a tradition of old-timeyness in Corman movies. So usually Ma and Pa are there, and usually they are still in love as they were when they got married. Pa sometimes has to hold her shoulders and shake her when she's afraid; but it's the fifties, that's what women were for.

6) The halfwit - my least favorite and surprisingly common character to show up in any movie. This guy is usually unexplained, or just explained as being "slow"
Now to that, the only thing which I forgot about, and which I would now add is:
7)  Criminals as the stars of the film, or the main characters committing criminal deeds.

This movie follows 1,2,3, kinda 5, and 7 for sure.  Thus we move onto the plot!  The film opens with a couple guys getting stranded on a tropical island.  The inhabitants are a bunch of indigenous women wearing tropical printed clothes - and no men.  They are led by a semi-bossy matriarch who does not like the fact the men are here, and especially doesn't like that the main character Chris is hitting it off with island girl Mahia.  Turns out all the women collect pearls, worship the sharks that swim in the waters by their island, and due to Mahia's love affair, she is to be sacrificed!

It's a very basic plot, nothing too special, and it moves along at a brisk pace.  At barely over an hour long, this movie flew by for me.  Somehow it felt like even shorter than that.  Whether that's because it's good or not, at least it won't waste your time.

For a film made in Kauai and featuring a beautiful backdrop they sure don't focus on it, though.  The photography is dismal, the lighting is bad, and the footage all looks like stock footage that's been sitting in a crate for several decades.  And of course, the movie is old, and maybe subsequent DVD releases cleaned it up, but I think it's more that Corman wasn't shooting on nice equipment.

Since it's short, since it's from 1958 and therefore super old, you have to give it some leeway in terms of a "bad movie" rating, but it's definitely not aged well.  It has no depth, it has no tension.  While the shark scenes are cool, and sometimes the actors (or stand-ins) were quite close to the sharks, it doesn't manage to have a sense of danger around it.  I do wonder what it must've been like in '58 though, I doubt people had ever seen that sort of thing before.

For the lightning quick pacing, decent shark scenes, and lack of plot-holes or confusion, I'll be graceful with a 2.5 star rating.

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