‘A creature from beyond the stars. Evil… Beautiful… Deadly!’
The Astounding She-Monster – promoted as The Astounding She Monster – is a 1957 American science fiction horror film directed, edited and produced by Ronald V. Ashcroft (assistant director on Ed D. Wood Jr.’s Night of the Ghouls) from a screenplay by Frank Hall. It stars Robert Clarke, Kenne Duncan and Marilyn Harvey.
In Britain, the film was released as Mysterious Invader.
A group of criminals who have kidnapped an heiress take over a geologist’s home in a secluded forest to hide in. A UFO crashes nearby and an alien resembling a beautiful woman emerges – however, she’s highly radioactive and can kill with her bare touch. She starts stalking and killing the other characters…
“Ronnie Ashcroft’s direction is almost entirely static – the film is shot in long, wide angles, something that low-budget directors like because it requires less camera set-ups, something that on the other hand also proves dramatically stultifying.” Richard Scheib, Moria: Science Fiction Horror and Fantasy Film
” …definitely one of the cheapest, most laughable sci-fi films, but it’s not without charm if you dig Grade Z stuff from that era. You get bad “day for night” photography, ludicrous stock music (that later graced The Beast of Yucca Flats), unconvincingly blended-in stock footage, hammy acting (especially Duncan as the tough but somewhat likable hood), and really cheesy dialog.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In
“The only point of interest in this clumsily directed, silly film is its misogynistic attitude toward women in its association of female beauty with evil, and unconventional independence with male fears of castration. The point is even more forceful for being so unselfconsciously expressed in [Frank] Hall’s wooden screenplay.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction
“Blatantly cheap, ineptly paced and “Woodenly” acted, The Astounding She-Monster is one no-budget wonder that truly is astounding… but not in any way that reflects favourably on anyone involved in it.” John Wilson, The Official Razzie Movie Guide
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“Pitiful Grade D thriller. Amateurish waste of film…” Castle of Frankenstein
“…feeble and ridiculous contribution to the science fiction library, weakly scripted and poorly acted.” Monthly Film Bulletin
“There’s absolutely nothing astounding about The Astounding She-Monster unless it’s how astoundingly bad the movie is. Director Ashcroft employs static wide shots in most scenes, with little in the way of dynamic editing to enliven the action. The acting and screenplay are pedestrian, and while the alien femme fatale might have been made into an intriguing, complex character, she is rendered mute and reduced to a homicidal cipher.” Paul Meehan, Tech-Noir: The Fusion of Science Fiction and Film Noir
“Dimly scripted, dimply photographed and dimly directed, only the Astounding She-Monster herself is minimally brighter than the movie.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982
Cast and characters:
- Robert Clarke … Dick Cutler – The Naked Monster; Haunting Fear; Alienator; Midnight Movie Massacre; Frankenstein Island; The Hideous Sun Demon; The Man from Planet X
- Kenne Duncan … Nat Burdell – Night of the Ghouls
- Marilyn Harvey … Margaret Chaffee – Rosemary’s Baby
- Jeanne Tatum … Esther Malone – Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow
- Shirley Kilpatrick … The She-Monster
- Ewing Miles Brown … Brad Conley – The Curse of the Gorgon; Blood of Dracula’s Castle; Giant from the Unknown
- Al Avalon … Radio Newscaster [uncredited]
- Scott Douglas … Narrator [uncredited]
Frazier National Park, outside of Los Angeles; Griffith Park in Los Angeles; and Larchmont Studios in Hollywood have been cited as specific locations.
Image credits: 3B Movie Theater Poster Archive