Thursday, August 25, 2011

Strange Killers: The Woman Eater

Don't feed the plants!  Back in the day, people had free reign to make all sorts of weird movies.  There were films about killer mud from 1,000,000 years ago, porno films with cavemen and, of course, The Curious Dr. Humpp.  While not as goofy as those films, today's movie does have a strange edge to it.  The plot involves a tree that eats women, a tribe that worships it and a scientist who tries to create an immortality formula from it. Along the way, you get a romantic sub-plot, a police investigation and lots of talk about a love affair that happened before the movie began.  Does all of that make sense to you?  I hope so, because I'm going to go over that one more greater detail.  To find out more of what this film is about, read on.  Hide your, well, women from the...
The film begins with a man planning an expedition.  He's British, but, in spite of that, people still question whether he should do it or not.  Don't you realize that he's old and British?  They eventually go and they stumble across a tribe right out of King Kong.  In fact, it's pretty much the same group, except they worship a tree instead of a giant ape.  The young man on the expedition dies (more on that later), but they bring back the tree.  Some vague amount of time later, we see that the old man is doing experiments with the tree.  To do so, he has a random woman from the street be hypnotized by a native (who he brought with him) and fed to the tree (off-camera).  The film really only has the one gimmick, so they have to really space this out.
The middle part of the film is split between a romantic sub-plot involving a dancer and a mechanic (who lives near the old man's house) and the drama inside the house.  The maid used to be in a relationship with the old man, but he blows her off.  Their scenes really drag on and on, especially since you get the gist the first time...but there are about twelve of them.  The young woman, meanwhile, gets fired from her job as a hula the circus and gets a job at the old man's house.  The doctor needs another test subject, so he follows a woman to a bar...with three people in it.  Yeah, you're subtle.  She has a fight with her boyfriend and agrees to go home with him.  He takes her inside where, after a jump cut, she is dressed in tribal attire and being hypnotized by the native's drum.  For a film made in 1957, they just implied that an ethnic man undressed a white woman against her will!  She gets fed to the tree too, although they show more this time.  Yea.
Finally, the film has some conventional murder.  After a long build-up, the old man kills the maid after she confronts him about sacrificing the young woman.  I'm not sure if she's upset about the idea of the murder or the fact that he's choosing someone younger!  In any case, the young woman makes plans to leave, but gets tricked into a trap by the old man.  The boyfriend, proving his use in the story, gets the police involved...eventually (they're a bit slow) and the police force of three guys in suits goes into action!  The old man has enough serum to test out on a dead body- the maid.  He does so, but she has no mind or soul.  The native man taunts him by saying that they only gave him half of the formula and that he'll never get it.  Yeah, it comes way the hell out of nowhere like that!  Desperate, he fights with the native, which is much more even than you would think.  When he's knocked out, the native tries to sacrifice the young woman, after ripping open her blouse of course.  Since this a '50s sci-fi film, the lab catches fire as the movie abruptly ends.  No, really.  The End.
Arbor death!  The plot of this movie is goofy and one-dimensional.  There really aren't any complex characters here if you get right down to it.  The old man just wants to succeed at his experiment.  The maid just wants him to herself.  The young woman and man just want to be happy.  The only one who seems that complex is the native guy, ironically enough.  Somehow, he ends up going to Britain with the scientist and starts working with the tree for him, all the while scheming to screw him over.  I'll give him credit for commitment, but I do question his goals.  You could have just not gone with him, especially since the movie doesn't see fit to show how he leaves, how the group escapes the natives or how they transported a giant tree with flailing arms back to England!  I should also point out how they never really show the tree truly 'eat' someone or how the old man extracts the fluid from it.  Is it like breeding a race horse?  Do I want that image in my head?  I'm sure that you don't!  If you like '50s drive-in schlock like X: The Unknown or Them, then you'll like this movie.  If you can't stand methodical films in black-and-white, don't bother.  I'll leave you with this image of leering that seems to come right from Madonna's Sex book...
Next up, the director of Rock & Roll Nightmare brings us a film about a demonic rock band.  Sure makes for a good counterpoint, huh?  Stay tuned...


  1. this looks and sounds sooo fuckin' silly, I'm sure I might enjoy it :)

  2. When i finally caught up with it, about 10 years ago, all the promise offered by the poster when I was a kid (a long time ago) was blown by its sheer awfulness,