Wednesday, October 03, 2012


The second tree monster movie of the month—and I hope I’ve exhausted the genre. This is set on a Pacific island. Kimo, shirtless and tied to the ground, has been sentenced to death by the chief, apparently for being too chummy with the white scientists who are studying nuclear fallout on the island. As the witch doctor Tano prepares his death, Kimo vows to return and get revenge against Tano, the chief, and, for the hell of it, his wife. He is then stabbed in the chest and buried standing up in a wooden box. A woman with the craziest Cockney accent I've ever heard watches the proceedings and reports back to the scientists. There is some folderol about a plague amongst the natives that may have been caused by fallout from atom bomb experiments, but eventually the supernatural trumps science when a misshapen tree suddenly sprouts out of the ground, right above Kimo’s burial pit.  The natives believe that Kimo has been reincarnated as Tabonga, a legendary tree monster. The scientists dig up the tree, which has markings that look like a scary, evil face, and find a pulse in the thing. The next morning, it's gone from the lab and begins shuffling slowly around the village, seeking its/his revenge. Mainly because of the title, this movie has a reputation as a must-see B-movie, and it does begin promisingly with the native death sentence ceremony, but as soon as the white folks become the focus of the film, it starts to fall apart. The actors, including Tod Andrews and Tina Carver, are drab, though Gregg Palmer as Kimo makes the most of his few minutes of screen time. The monster has potential—I know its face struck me as fairly horrific when I was 10—but because it lumbers along like Kharis of the later Mummy movies, it just doesn't seem all that dangerous, even though it does manage to kill at least three people.  Better than Monday's tree-monster movie, but no great shakes. [DVD]

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