Flesh and the Spur
Voodoo Woman
Runaway Daughters 1956
The She-Creature
A Strange Adventure 1956
Three Bad Sisters
Desert Sands
Hell's Horizon
Shield for Murder



The name Marla English may not be familiar to many mainstream, 1950s film aficionados, but a pair of back-to-back horror quickies have permanently endeared her to genre fans. When it comes to cheap thrills on the fly, you won't do any better than She Creature or its even more threadbare follow-up, Voodoo Woman. Hailing from San Diego, model Marlene English broke into films with smallish starlet roles at Paramount, (including a bit in Rear Window) where execs were quick to play upon her resemblance to Liz Taylor. Before long, she was cast by rising star Edmond O'Brien, making his co-directing debut alongside Howard Koch, in a crime thriller called Shield For Murder. Promoted as 'the sizzling new screen sensation,' the dark, sultry siren seemed braced for stardom.

English was hustled into a variety of roles as ethnic types and bad girls. She played a Saharan princess in Desert Sands, landed the female lead in the war drama Hell's Horizon (an interesting cast, sparked by jazz great Chet Baker), and split the title role of Three Bad Sisters with Sara Shane and Kathleen Hughes.

Yet it is the aforementioned twin horror bill for which she will more likely be remembered. Both films were produced and directed by Alex Gordon and Edward L. Cahn respectively, and both adhere to Gordon's policy of casting an interesting mix of new faces and seasoned Hollywood veterans. Marla's pulchritude clearly dominates 1956's She Creature, but the picture is very nearly stolen by cut-rate creature creator Paul Blaisdell sporting what is certainly his most robust (and busty) creation, scaly, fanged and crowned by a mane of matted blonde hair.

The picture plays upon the short-lived public fascination with hypnotic regression ignited by the Bridey Murphy case, as second-rate Svengali Chester Morris manages to resurrect Marla's prehistoric predecessor. The strangely effective cast is fleshed out by veteran smoothie Tom (The Falcon series, Cat People) Conway, El Brendel, reprising his bumbling swede characterization, and Lance (Bride and the Beast) Fuller.

The core of the Creature crew returned the following year with Voodoo Woman. A puffily aging Conway appeared as a skewed scientist ensconced in his jungle retreat, seeking to perfect a race of superwomen with which to control the globe. He resolves that bad girl, treasure-hunter Marla, who, with her killer instincts (not to mention looks), would be the ideal enlistee. Apprentice he-man Touch (Mannix, Swamp Women) Connors is on hand, as is makeup mavin Paul Blaisdell, wearing the same damn She Creature suit, capped this time by a scowling skull face.

Following one last role as an Indian maiden, Marla retired from pictures to take up the straight life. It's little wonder - having been hustled into so many ludicrous roles within the space of just three years.

Ed Cahn, the breakneck veteran director who helmed her two best-known outings, wasn't about to call it quits. His credits extend to the silent era, and his 1950s genre efforts should be explored by all scare-film aficionados. These examples should serve as a starting point:

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)
Perhaps best known as the film no less than Alien was patterned after. Marshall Thompson and his beleaguered space crew do battle with the vampiric It, played by veteran Westerner Ray 'Crash' Corrigan in another Blaisdell rubber suit. Tautly scripted by sci fi vet Jerome Bixby, this film is as entertaining as the following one is dull.

Acting: B+
Atmosphere: B+
Fun: A+

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Icily gorgeous horror hussy Alison Hayes is on hand to enliven these sedate proceedings concerning a squad of South Sea zombies determined to safeguard a cache of stolen diamonds.

Acting: C
Atmosphere: C-
Fun: B-

"A human volcano of unpredictable terror"
The Sadist

"The crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teen-age girl"

"You don't have to say 'I do' to be married."
Common Law Wife

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