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Beautiful maidens roam Lush Tropical Museum ruled by Hideous Stone God!

RALEIGH — From towering wild adventure to the depths of hellish horror! Welcome to “She Gods of Shark Reef” (1958), the latest First Friday feature of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Showing Friday, June 5 at 7 pm. Free.

Two brothers, one wanted for murder, are shipwrecked on an island inhabited by sarong-clad beauties who have amassed a valuable cache of pearls. What the men don’t know is that these women are also part of a cult that sacrifices young virgins to sharks in order to appease their gods. Find out what happens when one beauty steals the heart of the good brother, while the bad brother steals the pearls from the rest.

The bad brother is none other than Don Durant, best known as gunslinger-turned-sheriff “Johnny Ringo” (1959). Although “Ringo” was cancelled after one 38-episode season, it made a lasting impression with viewers — Johnny Ringo had his own comic book and board game, and the Johnny Ringo Playset became the most sought-after television western toy. “Ringo” also featured a theme song composed and performed by the star. In fact, Durant started his show-biz career as a singer on TV comedy/variety shows of the early ‘50s, including “The Jack Benny Program,” “You Bet Your Life” and “The Red Skelton Show.” He also toured as lead vocalist with big-band leaders Tommy Dorsey and Frankie Carle (and their orchestras). Durant switched his focus to acting in the late ‘50s, appearing in “Maverick,” Perry Mason,” “The Twilight Zone” and other popular TV series. “She Gods” was his first (and apparently only) starring role in a feature film. He left show business in 1964.

“She Gods” was directed by the “King of the Bs,” Roger Corman, the man who once shot a feature film in two days (“The Little Shop of Horrors” in 1960). Corman was also (in)famous for shooting two films at any one location ? “She Gods” was shot on the same location (Hawaii) as “Naked Paradise,” which was released as part of a double feature with “Night of the Blood Beast” in 1958.

Keep an eye out for the guard, played by Ed Nelson (uncredited). Nelson first worked for Corman on “Swamp Women” (1955), doing everything from playing a bit part and working as a location manager to wrestling an alligator. Nelson reprised his versatile and largely anonymous roles in many Corman movies, including “Attack of the Crab Monsters” (1957), where he played the crab. In later years, Nelson became one of TV’s hottest stars via the nighttime soap opera “Peyton Place” (1964).

The Museum stays open from 5 to 9 pm on the first Friday of every month. Arrive early and wander through eye-catching exhibits highlighting the natural beauty of North Carolina, enjoy snacks and beverages from the Acro Café, and groove to live music from Jeff Smith. Or, get the complete story behind the tasty treat that we crave in “Chocolate,” the Museum’s newest traveling exhibit (tickets are available at the box office till 7 pm). Additionally, the Museum Store offers after-hours shopping (6-9 pm) and an opening reception  for Nikki Coulombe, whose show “The Majesty of Trees” appears in the Nature Art Gallery June 5-28. All exhibited art is for sale.

The Museum of Natural Sciences is located in downtown Raleigh at 11 West Jones Street. Parking is available on the street and in surface lots along Wilmington and Edenton streets. For more information, contact Steve Popson at 919.733.7450, ext. 379.