The ultimate female who used her beauty and her body to bring kingdoms to their downfall and men to their knees!
THE VENGEANCE OF SHE (Cliff Owen, 1968) **
I was let down by Hammer Films' version of SHE (1965), so I wasn't particularly looking forward to its even less regarded sequel (concocted by Peter O'Donnell, who had earlier scripted the Joseph Losey camp classic MODESTY BLAISE !). Still, given that the film begins in a modern-day setting, I have to say that I found it mildly intriguing at first (following an unintentionally funny opening scene in which leading lady Olinka Berova is nearly raped by a loutish trucker who ends up trampled by his own vehicle!); however, once the scene shifts to the mythical city of Kuma, the film grinds to a halt - and, being one of Hammer's longest efforts at 101 minutes, this does it no favors at all! Though Mario Nascimbene is best-known for his scores of epic films and was probably assigned to this one for just that reason, the lounge music (including a title tune which is not half bad) he composed for the modern early scenes is actually the most effective part of his soundtrack!
The cast is, again, worth discussing: Berova, who's involved in some very mild nudity throughout, is undeniably gorgeous and yet rather petite to act as a stand-in for the statuesque Ursula Andress (trivia note - reportedly, she was deported from the U.K. on suspicions of espionage!); John Richardson, repeating his role from the original film but who has turned villainous in the interim, gives a wooden performance; rugged Edward Judd always makes for a compelling lead in this type of film (I especially loved the way he put-down an exotic dance number secretly organized for his entertainment while a prisoner in Kuma!); Colin Blakely and Jill Melford as a wealthy vacationing couple (on whose yacht a distraught Berova finds herself) make a fine impression, but they unfortunately exit the proceedings very early on; Noel Willman is virtually unrecognizable as a wizened learned man of Kuma; Andre' Morell, appearing in a different role from the one he played in the original, is an embarrassment as a sort of shaman spouting mumbo-jumbo.
As was the case with THE VIKING QUEEN (1967), there's some confusion with respect to the culture and the geography depicted in the film: the city of Kuma is supposed to be situated somewhere in North Africa, yet the natives - whom Judd meets during his journey to locate the kidnapped Berova - speak in Arabic. Similarly, both Morell and the high priests of Kuma are seen to be well-versed in the occult arts: I can't recall if this was as prominent a feature in the original Hammer film but, somehow, it all feels incongruous to the material!