Roger Corman’s She Gods of Shark Reef is probably not on anyone’s must-see list and for good reason. This flick is barely over an hour long and that’s plenty, even if it is offered in Pathécolor. Corman headed to Hawaii to film it, making it along with Naked Paradise and finishing the thing in about two weeks. It shows.
As with most Corman pictures, She Gods of Shark Reef has been made on a shoestring budget. Wikipedia estimates it at about $50,000 but that seems a touch on the high side. Then again, you’d have to be a touch on the high side to gain any satisfaction from this movie.
Things get started with what appears to be an attempted robbery. Jim (Don Durant) and an old Indian man kill a couple people. The old Indian guy swims off, while Jim hides on the boat of his brother Chris (Bill Cord). Chris and Jim sail off but are shipwrecked only to be rescued by an all-female crew of pearl divers. The womenfolk take the menfolk to an isle ruled by den mother Queen Pua (Jeanne Gearson).
Queen Pua isn’t overly happy about the presence of the two brothers, but she takes them in and ensures they have food and a place to crash. When Chris falls in love with one of the island girls, Mahia (Lisa Montell), the queen is upset. And when Jim gets the idea to snip some pearls on his way off the island, the sharks smell blood in the water.
There’s very little that makes any sense and very little of curiosity to cling to. Chris and Jim strut around like beach bums, with the former’s blonde hair creating a look that may remind some of a B-movie Zack Morris. Regrettably, Jim is no AC Slater and She Gods of Shark Reef drags more grotesquely than a protracted Screech monologue.
There are many questions, but there’s no point in trying to figure out what’s going on in a Corman film. The best advice I can offer is to sit back and enjoy the ride, although with this one that’s probably not possible. She Gods of Shark Reef commits the cardinal sin of unscrupulous movies everywhere: it’s dull.
Much of the flick is comprised of characters farting around with little purpose. Even with just 63 minutes or so to work with, Corman doesn’t generate anything of interest until about the last five minutes. And even then, watching Mahia perfunctorily slash the throat of an artificial shark doesn’t exactly make up for it.
Corman is one of those directors whose reputation has been helped impressively by those he helped, but it’s hard to make much of a case for him if one sifts through the 55 films he’s helmed. There are some gems, like A Bucket of Blood, but the lion’s share of his output is caked in badness. Even with that in mind, She Gods of Shark Reef is a wasted opportunity.
Despite having ample time to show off island girls or deliver the shark-based goods, nothing is done with the location and the material. The Robert Hill and Victor Stoloff “script” just kind of sits there, while Corman and cinematographer Lloyd Crosby struggle to come up with anything resembling a stimulating camera shot. They could’ve pointed the camera at the ground and managed a more exciting picture.
That’s not to say that there aren’t things to cleave to should you find yourself watching She Gods of Shark Reef. There is a title song called “Nearer My Love to You” sung by Sylvia Syms. The poster art is neat. Plus it precedes the aforementioned A Bucket of Blood, which is a much better movie. Viewers can cling to these hopes in a pinch. Should that fail, there’s always daydreaming.