Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Revenge of Doctor X (1970)
Ed Wood apparently wrote the screenplay on which this film is based. I say apparently because, although he claimed he did, and all the usual Woodisms are there - thuddingly awful dialogue, incomprehensible "logic", and characters whose motivations change from scene to scene (or even within a scene) - he didn't receive a credit. But then, in the best known cut of the film no-one receives a credit: the original US video release mistakenly had the credits for an entirely different movie.
On the plus side, if you're going to go uncredited, this is a good film to not be credited for.
During an important space mission launch, the lead scientist shows alarming signs of cracking under the strain. His colleagues suggest he take a holiday - there's nothing they can do now until the rocket reaches it destination in any case - and he agrees.
Since he was a botanist before he became a rocket scientist (lots of overlap in those fields, right?), our protagonist decides to spend his holiday studying plants in Japan. Before he leaves the US though, he has a chance encounter with a snake-handling garage owner who owns a Venus Flytrap. The scientist (let's call him Dr X, since I don't recall his real name, and since there is no actual Dr X in the film) is so impressed by the plant that he treks into the local swamp and digs out one for himself. Such are the things that happen in Ed Wood films.
Dr X takes the flytrap to Japan with him where he is met by the designated love interest, though to say that the romance is unconvincing is a bit like suggesting that Andre the Giant was of larger than average build.
Once established in his isolated laboratory near an active volcano (here's a helpful tip: if at any point in your life you find yourself voluntarily moving to live in an isolated location near an active volcano, please consider that you may be a mad scientist or supervillain), Dr X conducts experiments on his flytrap. Somehow convincing himself that it has the capacity to reason, he resolves to cross-breed it with an aquatic plant only found in Japanese waters, and create a human-like hybrid plant. Why? To prove that humans evolved from plants, of course! As we must have done, if we came from the sea!
No, I don't follow the Woodster's logic either.
Anyway, what we've got here is a dumb as rocks Dr Frankenstein remix with the monster replaced by a humanoid plant-thing with what looks like boxing gloves for hands. Though that's a summary that actually makes the film sound a lot more entertaining than it really is, because it focuses on the events of the film's mad last half hour, rather than on the interminably dull first 60 minutes.
Also, before I go, I do want to give a shout out to the soundtrack, which is delightfully inappropriate throughout pretty much the entire film.