Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

“The Revenge of Doctor X”, 1970

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Words fail. There is just no way I can communicate the … experience … of watching this film.

Not that I’m going to let that stop me from trying.

My friends, I have seen my share of bad movies. While not racking up a count worthy of bad movie reviewers like Nathan Shumate or Ken Begg, it’s still fair to say that I’ve seen my share. And your share. And your mother’s share too. ((Part of my application package to University of Michigan was an essay extolling the virtues of the badness of Phantom of the Mall: Erik’s Revenge. And I got accepted. Top that if you can. ))

Once upon a time, I could quote chapter and verse from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I have seen movies that top most of that show’s cinematic selections for ineptitude, padding, stupidity, what have you.

And I’ve seen some of the works of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

But nothing, I tell you, nothing at all prepared me for this.

The script is by Ed Wood. It’s indisputable.

The credits on this are for a different film entirely, crediting people who had no involvement with it at all. But even without IMDb, anyone familiar with Wood’s… unique writing style would have no problem putting several hundred dollars down on his authorship here.

(The clearly-for-a-different-movie credits are also why I won’t rag on the title, which has nothing to do with the film. However, the original title, The Double Garden, makes even less sense.)

The story makes The Happening look reasonably intelligent.

We start in Florida as a couple of NASA scientists talk (and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk… yup, this is Ed Wood all right) about the weather, a rocket project, and eventually about the lead character, who is a mathematician, but first got a degree in botany(!), taking a vacation to the other guy’s homeland of Japan.

The doctor drives from Cape Canaveral to North Carolina to catch his flight(!), and stops along the way at a weird hick’s gas station with some kind of engine trouble. While the hick cackles and looks the car over, our good doctor goes out and gets himself a venus flytrap. Why? Um…. because he’s a botanist at heart, I guess?

Anyway, the car gets fixed, and doc goes on to the airport. He gets to carry his boxed plant in the plane, and has no trouble at all with customs in Japan, either.

We are now a solid 30 minutes into this movie. I’ve left out nothing of incident ((Okay, I’ll be honest, I left out the hick’s bid to become the movie’s Odious Comic Relief)). You have a rough outline for maybe ten minutes of film that the movie milks for thirty minutes and more.

And I’m not going to go painfully scene by scene to get to the point, either. I just decided that. The upshot is, the doctor gets to work in a greenhouse at an abandoned hotel near an active volcano, with an assistant, and he sets about merging two plants, the venus flytrap, and a fictional aquatic Japanese thingie, in order to make a plant man so that he can prove that humans evolved from plants.

He succeeds (eventually) in creating the plant man, which doesn’t do much until near the end of the film, when it starts consuming puppies and small children. The monster and the doc wrestle and fall. The movie attempts to imply that they fell into stock footage lava flow and both perished. It does so poorly.

There are many, many reasons not to see this movie. It is painfully bad. The doctor overacts every single word of his dialogue, and usually wildly off-key. His assistant is a not-spectacular looking Japanese woman who couldn’t act her way out of a wet paper bag. The plant monster is seriously goofy. And the dialogue that is either overacted or delivered woodenly is… is… Look, I mentioned that Ed Wood wrote the script, didn’t I? Yeah.

Not only that, but the director is also responsible for Monster from Green Hell. (When Dr. Freex tells you a movie is bad, you’d best pay heed.)

So why would you watch this movie? Well, you could be an Ed Wood completist. Or you could be a reviewer of bad movies, in need of fodder, and this one has only been hit by a couple of those (not including the aforementioned Misters Shumate and Begg, who both should take a whack at it).

Or you could just want to see circa-1970 Japanese women topless, in which case skip everything but a scene about 46 minutes in. But you won’t have to do that, in fact.

It’s available on Mill Creek’s Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack. If you revel in bad movies, this one alone justifies the purchase.

Below the fold, to spare you from actually having to watch the thing to get to the good stuff, are boobies. If you’re at work, don’t click.

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Written by [IMH]

20 June 2008 at 4:04 pm

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