Voodoo Woman is a 1957 horror film directed by Edward L. Cahn and starring Marla English, Tom Conway, and Mike Connors. It was released by American International Pictures as a double feature with The Undead.
film poster by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Edward L. Cahn|
|Produced by||Alex Gordon|
|Written by||Russ Bender|
|Music by||John Blackburn|
|Cinematography||Frederick E. West|
|Edited by||Ronald Sinclair|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
A pair of treasure hunters, which includes the beautiful but ruthless Marilyn Blanchard (Marla English), discover gold in the voodoo idol of a tribe of the African jungle. Hoping to find more such treasures, they con the innocent Ted Bronson (Mike Connors) into acting as a jungle guide and leading them to the tribe that made the idol.
Meanwhile, Dr. Roland Gerard (Tom Conway), a mad scientist who has exiled himself deep in the same jungle, is using a combination of native voodoo and his own biochemical discoveries in an attempt to create a superhuman being. He hopes that this being, possessing the best of man and beast, will be the mother of a new perfect and deathless race which he will control with a mixture of hypnosis and telepathy. He is accompanied by his wife, Susan (Mary Ellen Kaye), who has long since disavowed her husband but remains trapped by her husband and the natives.
Dr. Gerard's initial attempts to create a female superbeing are a failure because the transformation is only temporary and the native girl used as the subject of the experiment lacks the killer instinct he deems necessary for survival. However, when he stumbles upon the party of treasure hunters, he decides that Marilyn will be a perfect subject for his experiment. He successfully turns her into an invulnerable monster, but her inherent selfishness and greed outweigh his mental control over her and she turns on him. Ted and Susan are able to escape in the ensuing chaos.
- Marilyn Blanchard, treasure hunter - played by Marla English
- Chaka, the Witch Doctor who is Gerard's partner in monster-making - played by Martin Wilkins
- Bobo, the Gerards' native houseboy - played by Otis Greene
- Gandor, a burly and surly native guard with a spear - played by Emmett Smith
- Zaranda, a gentle native girl and the first victim of Gerard's evil experiment - played by Jean Davis
- Susan Gerard, the doctor's trapped and terrified wife - played by Mary Ellen Kay
- Rick Brady, Marilyn's cowardly killer of a boyfriend - played by Lance Fuller
- Marcel, a good-naturedly crooked bar owner in a lawless African town - played by Paul Dubov
- Harry West, a tough-talking treasure hunter who lets the wrong woman see a gold and gem-decorated voodoo doll - played Norman Willis
- Ted Bronson, a heroic, handsome but rather hapless jungle guide - played by Mike "Touch" Connors
- The Voodoo Women, an identical pair of massively mutated zombies - created and played by Paul Blaisdell
The original make-up design for the Voodoo Woman was deemed unsuitable at the last minute and the title monster is actually the She Creature costume hurriedly stripped of its tail, fins and pincer-like claws. What remained was the bulky Thing-style body, which was wrapped in a burlap sarong and topped with a modified skull mask and big blond wig. Cahn worked actively to conceal this fact, using quick cuts and keeping her mostly in shadows or behind foliage. The rumbling growl of a lion was also dubbed for added effect.
The film is widely regarded as one of the worst films in cinema - yet in 1966, just nine years later, it was remade by Larry Buchanan into a TV film that is considered even worse, Curse of the Swamp Creature.
On a more personal level, in his The Pit and the Pen column in Fangoria magazine producer Alex Gordon revealed that the movie nearly caused a break-up with his then-fiance Ruth Alexander. Proud of the finished production he took her to see it at its Burbank premiere only to have her hand back his engagement ring when it was over, telling him that he should be making prestigious high class art films and not trash like this. Luckily, his brother Richard was able to explain to her the differences between low budget and big budget film-making, and she and Alex were eventually married, with her later actually scripting several of his features.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p74
- Desilu Feature Will Star John Bromfield; Dahl, Harvey New Team Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Oct 1956: B3.
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