Monday, October 01, 2012


It's October which means horror and sci-fi movies. If this film is any indication, I'll be scraping the bottom of the barrel all month long. A plane carrying rare plant specimens from Antarctica crash-lands at a Navy Base on Gow Island; the pilot survives but is catatonic; the specimens, large chunks of trees, have survived, but some penguin crates are mysteriously empty and the co-pilot is missing. Soon, the pilot is going on angry rampages and a sticky acidic goo is found all over the place. It turns out that the "trees" are more like animals than plants, and they begin growing, moving, and reaching out to kill and absorb people. It's left to the lieutenant in charge (Anthony Eisley), his hotsy nurse (Mamie Van Doren), and a civilian meteorologist (Edward Faulkner) to battle this menace before it can threaten the rest of the world.

This is a bad movie, though it has a fabulous poster (see above). In its way, it's worse than even PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, because this has a cast and crew of professionals with credentials (including an uncredited Roger Corman as a producer) who should have been able to turn out a better film in their sleep. Eisely, star of the 60s crime show Hawaiian Eye, tries his best as the hero but everyone else around him is pretty terrible. Particularly disappointing is Van Doren who was so campy-good in the 50s juvenile delinquent movie GIRLS TOWN—here she's remarkably wooden with zero personality, and even her curvaceous body isn't presented effectively. Bobby Van, a supporting actor/dancer for MGM in the 50s, is rather pathetic stuck in a minor comic relief sidekick role. Billy Gray, child actor from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and TV’s Father Knows Best, playing a radar operator, gets to display very little acting range until he gets his arm ripped off by one of the tree monsters and winds up with the best scene in the movie. The attempts at character backstory are ludicrous, and indeed at times threaten to derail the monster plot. This film has all the atmosphere and production value of an episode of Gilligan’s Island—and indeed a comic scene early on involving a nerdy sailor trying to inflate a weather balloon (pictured) seems like an outtake from that show. The DVD I watched from Cheezy Films was in terrible shape, obviously taken from a bad VHS dub. [DVD]

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