Rudy Schwartz's Reviews

This one has been elevated from obscurity to a cult favorite in recent years, and for good reason. It really is one of the most batshit insane movies I've ever laid eyes upon, and it's definitely worthy of its status. Purportedly, its script was written by Ed Wood, Jr., although I haven't yet seen conclusive evidence. To be sure, lots of dialogue has that Wood aroma to it, and in Rudolph Grey's Wood biography, Nightmare of Ecstasy, there is a brief but undetailed reference to a script for The Venus Fly Trap, which would have been a much more apt title. So while in all likelihood the Woodmeister probably did have a hand in this one, it's essential for Wood enthusiasts regardless.

James Craig stars as Dr. Bragan, a NASA scientist who erupts into unprovoked screaming whenever anyone tells him things that most people would find mildly distracting, if not completely innocuous. One of the guys he works with suggests he take a vacation in Japan. He hooks him up with his Japanese sister, who agrees to serve as his assistant during his vacation. But before going to the airport, he stops in Wilmington, North Carolina to get a venus fly trap plant from a redneck gas station attendant. Are these plants really prolific in North Carolina? Do Florida residents normally drive through North Carolina on their way to the airport? To borrow a Wood idiom, they do, and it is more than a fact.

So when Dr. Bragan shows up in Japan, the guy's sister picks him up at the airport, and within 15 minutes he starts yelling at her over things like whether he should have some breakfast. The cranky son of a bitch starts talking about getting back into botany research, and it turns out she's a botanist, so off they go to her Dad's giant greenhouse out in the country where a hunchback guy constantly plays Bach's fugue in D minor on an organ, since huchbacks generally eschew the Neil Diamond songbook, and this hunchback probably saw John Carradine play the same fugue in The Unearthly. Then for most of the remainder of the film, every time the hunchback appears, the ubiquitous ricky-ticky Japanese stereotype music abates long enough to reprise the Bach theme. Best of all, it ultimately leads nowhere.

Then Dr. Bragan hits on the idea of finding some other venus fly trap plant variety that lives in the ocean off the coast of Japan, and grafting it to the plant he bought from the hillbilly gas station attendant in North Carolina, with the goal of proving once and for all that humans descended from plant life. This inferential chain is never spelled out for the layman, but then it's also not explained why a group of topless female mussel divers suddenly appear at the ocean to help locate the water dwelling fly trap plant. Needless to say the film doesn't sag here.

Back at the lab, Dr. Bragan begins stitching the two plants together. He also cuts his finger, and his assistant tries to put a bandage on it, so he yells at her again, because he's too busy with his important work to stop for an adhesive strip. Oh, and by the way, when he isn't screaming at her, they're starting to develop a creepy romantic thing, because educated women just love having assholes hurling abuse at them for no reason. Especially when those guys are thirty years their senior and look like Clark Gable's corpse.

Then he hoists the hybrid plant up toward some lightning, just like in Frankenstein. The resulting monster likes to eat puppies, chickens, and hunchbacks, and looks like the result of a Sid & Marty Krofft acid trip.

Later, Dr. Bragan starts talking to it and saying shit like:

Yes, yes, it's all there. Your glandular count is the same as the count around a human heart ... All I need is the blood of a human being to prove the fact.

Then, after threatening to feed some puppies to his plant, he has this exchange with his assistant:

I know I am right!

It's a monster, and it should be destroyed before any more damage can be done.

Destroy him, when I know I've succeeded? He moved by his own volition. I know it.

How could he? How could a plant move?

I'm going to prove it one way or the other tonight. I'm not taking my eye off of him for one second. I wish you'd stay with me.

If you want me to, doctor.

I may need a witness.

Should I make some coffee?

See how submissive these Japanese scientist women are? They go from wanting to destroy your puppy eating plant mutation to fixing a pot of coffee after just a few sentences of logically disjointed conversation. How do I immigrate?

The plant emits a gas which puts them both to sleep, then goes out to kill some villagers. The townspeople respond by carrying torches around, just like in Frankenstein. Dr. Bragan takes a baby lamb up on a cliff to feed his plant creation, then doctor and plant fall into a stream of hot lava and die. The lamb emerges unscathed, albeit a bit disheveled. Nobody is named Dr. X, and nothing is ever avenged. But when your pants are soaked with urine, who really cares?

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