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Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature (2001)

In Ireland, two carnies abduct a mermaid and decide to take her to America. In their sea route, the seductive and mysterious creature reveals an uncontrollable darker side.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Angus
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Lily
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Captain Dunn
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Bailey
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Gifford
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Skelly
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Mr. Woolrich
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Miles
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Mermaid
Hannah Sim ...
Queen of the Lair
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Russian Eddie
David Nott ...
Cook
...
Christian
Preston Maybank ...
Navy Captain
Brian Sieve ...
Officer Dixon
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Storyline

Two carnies (Sewell and Gugino) abduct a mermaid in Ireland, circa 1900, and decide to transport her to America. As their ship loses its way and heads towards the mythical Forbidden Islands, the mermaid begins to display its deadly side. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Beatiful, seductive and totally deadly.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, nudity and some violence | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

She Creature  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rya Kihlstedt spent three hours in make-up a day so she could portray the mermaid. See more »

Connections

References Rosemary's Baby (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Step Forward in the Creature Feature Genre
10 April 2002 | by (Sunland, CA) – See all my reviews

Columbia/Tri-Star's "Creature Features" film series is intended to create new horror films in the spirit (and title) of 1950's sci-fi b-pictures. The first in the series, "She Creature", has nothing in relation with the 1956 film of the same title, or even its 1990's genre contemporaries. This may be the first creature feature film where the creature takes a backseat to the story.

The titular "beast" is an alluring mermaid, a combination of live actress, mechanical tail, and puppet. In this film's history, mermaids are related to the harpies of Greek myth, and both lured sailors to their doom because they, unlike the popularized "Little Mermaid" friendly/romantic mermaid, feed on human flesh. This idea would seem absurd were it not for the excellent performance of Rya Kihlstedt as the mermaid. Although confined to a small tank for the majority of the film, she gives the mermaid depth (no pun intended), making her to be beautiful and seemingly helpless, but with cold-blooded stares and expressions that convince the audience of her dark nature. Later in the film, the mermaid transforms into a scaled beast that looks like a modernized Gill Man. As usual, Stan Winston (who also co-produced) provides excellent work on the creature effects, but the mermaid's second form is given very little good shots; all killings are in the trademark low-budget "from the monster" point of view, and even when the mermaid goes on a rampage in the climax, there are only a couple fleeting glimpses of the full body (the scenes feature almost exclusively head shots or corpses of sailors torn apart).

Interestingly enough, Winston's work actually detracts from the film as the whole. Though labeled and intended as a creature feature, the story is strong enough to push it far beyond that genre, where story is just filler between creature attacks. The initial reason for this is because of the incredible chemistry between Angus (Rufus Sewell) and Lillie (Carla Gugino). As the story progresses though, the film's focus moves from their relationship to that of Lillie and the mermaid. Gugino never loses her chemistry in this transition (proving that her forgettable performance in "The One" really wasn't her fault). Lillie's relationship to the mermaid changes over the course of the film from fear to hate to love; her captivation with the mermaid continues to grow to the point that she distances herself from Angus. The romantic and sexual overtones that drive the story are infinitely more compelling than the bland "romantic subplots" that plague other films in the genre, and should be applauded; this is the first true step ahead in the creature feature genre since its inception. This isn't the first film to give a creature a sexual or romantic nature, but to combine the two to give it a real character is a definite rarity. It's a shame when the mermaid transforms and the "monster rampage climax" takes over, as it ruins the character built up throughout the film, as well as the romance between Lillie and the mermaid and a hinted-at confrontation between Angus and the mermaid over Lillie that would've made for a much more innovative climax.

The most interesting (and ironic) thing about this film is its supposed inspiration from such an uninspired film ("The She Creature" was a half-hearted attempt to rip off the classic "Creature from the Black Lagoon"). Whereas "The She Creature" featured a confusing forced plot and trademark unmemorable performances, this film's plot and acting are its strongest points. In fact, its only real connection to the creature feature genre at all is its disinterest in its own plot as it carelessly throws it aside for a few minutes of monster attacks. As disappointing as it is when the film goes that route, it's understandable (not forgivable, but understandable), given that were it not for those few minutes of monster attacks the rest of the film would never have been made (the entire point of a creature feature film, after all, is a creature). As it is, the film is impressive and unique in that its "filler" plot is much better than its sadly standard genre climax. I almost hope the other films in the series are more true to their "inspirations" in having a less interesting plot such that when it becomes totally creature-driven it's more enjoyable instead of distressing and distracting.


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