If you like your camp amped, if you like your histrionics hyped, if you like your melodrama magnified, you cannot, you must not, go past the B-grade pearl of great price that is She Devil. This outré classic from the glory days of good-science-gone-bad movies, the 1950s, will have you asking that age-old question: what the hell?
But there’s really no mystery about this movie. It’s a simple what if story, as in what if Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were written and directed by Liberace?
There Be Spoilers
Dr. Scott is examining a pencil drawing of a fruit fly through a microscope in his laboratory. It was probably meant to be an actual fruit fly, but there must have been a miscommunication with the studio’s props department. A colleague, Dr. Bach, pays him a visit. Scott tells Bach he’s been working on a serum derived from the fruit fly that will cure all diseases. So far it’s cured two guinea pigs of tuberculosis and mended a cat’s broken spine.
Scott injects Kyra Zelas, a terminally ill patient of Bach’s, with the serum. It heals her overnight. A nurse with the acting ability of particle board declares the healing a miracle. After Scott gives Kyra a second injection, Bach notices that the puncture mark left by the needle has vanished almost immediately.
Bach invites the rejuvenated and slightly paranoid Kyra to stay in his mansion so he and Scott can monitor the serum’s long-term effect on her. She tells him she accepts his invitation but only because she wants to, then vows to get everything she’s ever desired.
Kyra visits an upmarket fashion boutique and watches a sugar daddy pull out a big wad of cash to pay for an outfit his trophy wife has just tried on. She marches right up to him and demands he give her the money. Before he has a chance to say no, she snatches the dosh and makes for the exit. He grabs her and she scones him with a glass ashtray. As the manager of the boutique calls the cops and an ambulance, but not necessarily in that order, she ducks into one of the changing rooms. Two cops show up so fast you’d think the police station was next door. Kyra overhears the manager telling them she’s a dark-haired woman in a cheap black dress. She throws on a white dress that by some remarkable coincidence has been left in the changing room. The cops bang on the changing room door, demanding she let them in. She gazes into a mirror and wills her hair to turn platinum blonde. It does. The manager apologizes to her profusely when she sashays out of the changing room, looking like Mamie Van Doren.
Later at Bach’s mansion, the two doctors are both amazed and aroused by Kyra’s sexy transformation. She claims she dyed her hair, but a test Bach runs on some of her hair strands reveals that the color is natural pigmentation.
The next morning, Bach sees a photo of Kyra’s old dress in a newspaper report about the assault and robbery at the boutique. He and Scott conclude that the serum has given her fantastic adaptive powers that enabled her to change her hair color instantaneously to avoid being nabbed by the cops. They confront Kyra with the report, who grouches that they created her, so she’s their problem now.
Kyra overhears Bach encouraging Scott to create an antidote for the serum. She approaches Scott when he’s alone in his lab and says she won’t let him inject her with an antidote, because there’s nothing like being indestructible. She walks over to a caged black panther and lets it claw her arm. Scott cleans the bloody marks to find her wounds have already healed completely. Unable to contain the blazing furnace in his trousers any longer, he and Kyra start getting it on in the lab until 1957 film censorship yells “Cut!”
Bach holds a party at the mansion and introduces Kyra to sleazebag Barton Kendall and his wife. Kendall doesn’t bother to hide his sexual attraction for Kyra. He even makes a pass at her in the mansion’s garden, knowing that his wife is watching. His wife slaps Kyra and calls her a trollop. She warns Kendall that she’s not going to put up with his philandering anymore. He asks her for a divorce, but she refuses to grant him one, as she’d have to give up the power and prestige that comes from being a Kendall.
Kyra disguises herself by turning her hair black, then strangles Kendall’s wife to death for slapping her, a strangulation that’s every bit as convincing as the flying saucers in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Later that evening, Bach accuses her of the murder. She confesses to the crime but tells Bach there’s nothing he or Scott can do about it, because they turned her into the mighty morphing homicidal floozy she is, which makes them accessories after the fact.
They attempt to give Kyra the antidote for her condition while she’s asleep, but she wakes up and threatens to destroy them if they don’t leave her room. They leave without questioning how she would destroy them, since although she’s indestructible she doesn’t have super strength. Come the next morning, she’s packed her bags and gone.
Bach and Scott learn that Kyra is engaged to be married to Kendall. Scott visits Kendall to warn him about the devil woman with evil on her mind. But Kendall isn’t in a listening mood and accuses Scott of being jealous because he too is in love with Kyra. Scott admits he is and then storms off.
A few months into her marriage, Kyra tells Kendall that she’s fed up with all the boring weekends they’ve been spending at his country retreat. Kendall, whose blood-alcohol level reads “no smoking or open flame,” says his former wife was right about her: she is a trollop. When she calls him a drunk, he pulls a gun on her and shoots her in the shoulder. He begs her forgiveness and, incredibly, gets it.
While driving Kyra to a hospital in his sports car, Kendall tells her to keep still or her bullet wound will start bleeding again. She shows him that she has no bullet wound, then grabs the wheel and steers the car toward the edge of the mountain road they’re on. The car sails off a cliff backward, and the two dummies made up to look vaguely like Kyra and Kendall earn every cent of whatever the film’s producers paid them. Kyra exits the smoking wreckage at the base of the cliff as good as gold, but Kendall isn’t so lucky.
Bach and Scott hear a news report about the fatal car accident—fatal for Kendall—over the radio. Bach insists they do something to stop Kyra once and for all.
They meet with the “grieving” widow at Bach’s mansion and give her an ultimatum: she must submit to an operation that will return her to her sweet normal self or they will go to the police. She says she needs time to weigh her options.
Kyra and Scott rekindle their old romance. She promises to make all of his dreams come true if he forgoes injecting her with the antidote and helps her kill Bach. Scott informs Bach, who comes up with a plan to knock her out by making her stew in her own waste. No, not number ones and twos, carbon dioxide.
The plan works and they operate on her. Post-op, Scott observes a heavenly glow around Kyra, whose hair changes back to its original color before his and Bach’s eyes. She regains consciousness and confesses her love for him but dies shortly thereafter.
The film ends with Scott gazing upon a portrait of a platinum blonde Kyra that looks as though it were purchased from an outdoor market in Tijuana. “She was so beautiful,” he remarks.
She Devil Is Waiting Just for You
She Devil is available in a sumptuous widescreen transfer on DVD and Blu-ray. Watch it with somebody you love or whom you plan to inject with a psychosis-inducing drug that will give him or her miraculous healing and transformative powers.