She Creature was the first of a series of made-for-cable homages to 1950s B horror, & is the best of the set. It opens in an 18th Century carnival with a fake zombie & a fake mermaid, but soon the carnival barker is on the trail of the real thing, a mermaid which he bellieves will make him world-famous among carnies.
Kidnapping the mermaid from her dungeon aquarium in a madman's mansion, he sets off with his girlfriend & the mermaid from Ireland to America. But taking that mermaid to sea was probably not the best move, as this places her in her true element.
I always enjoy Rufus "Dark City" Sewell, who plays carnival barker & mermaid kidnapper, & I wish he'd be given leads in more stuff. The mermaid played mutely by Rya Kihlstedt has a lot of conviction as made-for-cable films go, though probably anyone who can hold her breath & look pretty could've played it the same way. I've seen her in other things, but not so as I remembered her.
Some of the odd elements include the mermaid's apparently cultural or biological lesbianism; & the fact that her species eats the flesh of drowned sailors. This happens to be the Queen of the Mermaids besides, & she can turn from an oh-so-pretty half-fish half-girl into something really quite horribly fanged & clawed. No candy-assed Splash mermaid this.
I thought the period setting worked great, & even though her fishy tail looked like plastic fin-pants, the design had sufficient elegance to be acceptible. She Creature was sufficiently likeable that it was usually hard to know quite who to side with, monster or her victims. She was a prisoner whose actions seemed justifiable, but she's also a flesh-eater by nature & would've been bad news with or without another reason.
The film has intended as the first of a series, & its pre-release title was Mermaid Chronicles Part I. No sequels came about, & too bad. I definitely would have liked to have seen more of the hidden mermaids' island.
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