Bad Movies Beware!
So yeah. That happened.
This one is a rare gem (if the word “gem” was Latin for “dog turd”) that was brought to my attention by Bill Mulligan. As it turns out, Bill is quite the connoisseur of the all the classic crap that even I’VE never heard of. In fact, I played HELL finding this movie anywhere else outside of YouTube.
I was actually surprised that it stayed on YouTube long enough for me to watch it since they’re getting a little weird lately about feature films. However, since the director is largely unknown and it was written by Ed Wood (THE Ed Wood) who ended up being uncredited, it’s probably region free. On top of that, the ending credits are actually from the movie The Mad Doctor of Blood Island, which just ended up causing enough confusion to blow the minds of the audiences who saw it.
The movie opens at the NASA Research Facility where Dr. Bragan works with his assistant on the space program. Bragan is a consummate workaholic and temperamental on a good day. He ends up stressing himself to the point of passing out and is forced into going on vacation to Japan to stay in a hotel owned by his assistant’s family.
Bragan agrees and meets up with Noriko in Japan. Noriko takes him to a hotel up in the mountains where Dr. Bragan plans to conduct research and a botany experiment to prove that man and plants are closely related.
Okay, dude, let make sure we’re on the same page so far. You collapse at work from stress and overworking, so you go on vacation in Japan to stay at an old hotel in the mountains and …work?
What the hell.
Noriko is the stereotypical Japanese woman of the time, complete with overdone accent. By today’s standards, it could be a little insulting, but hey, it’s just a stupid movie.
No, really. Emphasis on “STUPID.”
Moving along, we find out that Bragan has a particular hang-up on the Venus flytrap plant and plans to cross-breed it with a carnivorous Japanese Venus plant that grows in the ocean. Along for the ride is the caretaker at the hotel who gets his jollies off clanging away Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which ends up being used heavily in the film.
It was actually a groan-worthy moment for me, but I ended up trudging on. There has to be some kind of achievement or something for enduring this kind of pain.
Bragan and Noriko go diving to find the plant he needs, and they enlist the help of a team of female topless Japanese divers—HELL YEAH!
Okay, so we can clearly see that the man isn’t stupid!
They retrieve the plant, and Bragan takes it back to the hotel greenhouse and immediately begins working. He gets cut by the plant, but keeps working. He wears a black rubber glove to protect his hand. Once he’s done, he harnesses the lightening to bring his creation to lif-HEEEEY.
Okay, Ed. I see what you did there.
Yes, the movie is Frankenstein but with a few minor changes. Other than that, it’s a frame-for-frame copy, much like Another Gay Movie is the gay version of American Pie. Difference: well, not much. Both the copies are just bad.
The Revenge of Dr. X is at least watchable.
After the lightning storm, Bragan reveals his creature. It’s a humanoid plant monster with over-sized Venus Flytraps for hands and feet and tentacles for hair. I wish I could make this s**t up.
The creature seems to be dying, and Bragan and Noriko can’t figure out why. Soon we discover that it likes meat because it eats a puppy in what must be the most gore-less sequence ever. The mouth on the plant’s foot opens, and the screen goes bright red as we get treated to some stock transition noise that may have been ripped straight from the old Batman series.
The plant also attacks the caretaker, and Noriko tells Bragan that it has to be destroyed. Of course Bragan refuses (movie would be a little short, even though NOTHING happens for the first half of the film), and indicates that the plant can walk on its own. It breaks free and wreaks havoc at the local village.
Yes, a plant monster gets loose and goes on a rampage at the local village. Insert any and all Godzilla or other Toho movie monster-related jokes in this section. Yes, they must be groan-worthy.
Bragan and Noriko chase the creature up into the mountain and up to the lip of the active volcano. Bragan looks at his hand, and we kind of piece together that his gloved hand has turned into a Venus flytrap. No, we never get to see this. But, his other hand is turning green, so hey. Kind of putting that one together, there.
Bragan and the creature struggle, and both go over the edge into the volcano. Noriko looks down after them, and the credits roll.
Wait, what? But…I…they…
Yeah, ever get the feeling you’ve just been had?
VERDICT: NEEDS WEED-B-GONE.
I spent the first few seconds of the credits trying to regain the intelligence I lost watching this pile of compost and the next day or two just reeling from the fact that I actually wanted the ending to at least be decent. I mean, really, it was surprising to me that it was as lackluster as it was, even though the film itself is a dull and cliché bowl of doggy-doo.
The original title of the film was Venus Flytrap, though it was changed to The Revenge of Dr. X for the American release for no apparent reason whatsoever. The original title would’ve made more sense because Bragan is not out for revenge. He’s out to make a creature that will prove that humans and plants are alike.
Profound, right? Not so much.
The music, believe it or not, is the worst part of the film. The music throughout is jaunty and happy keyboard fodder with an oriental twang thrown in because…Japan. No really. We’re in the Orient, let’s just take stock American music and put the stereotypical Japanese twang that happens to be the ONLY thing Americans seem to pick up on and put it in so the audience doesn’t forget that the film is being shot in Japan.
Because, you know, all the Japanese people and buildings and landscapes in EVERY F**KING SHOT just might not be enough. Add in Toccata and Fugue in D Minor every f**king time something scary or foreboding is going on and you end up with your face in your hands wondering why you aren’t drinking as much as you should to numb the pain.
The acting isn’t horrible considering the writing, but it isn’t great. Noriko’s accent, as said before, is WAY overdone. It’s also obvious that it’s all voice-over work since the voice audio stands completely out from the rest of the sound in the movie.
The writing isn’t anything spectacular, even considering that it’s Ed Wood. Then again, it’s Ed Wood, the man behind Plan 9 from Outer Space. What killed me about it was the unoriginality of the entire plot. It’s friggin’ Frankenstein for crying out loud. Yeah, there’s plenty of nods and obvious influences in plenty of other films and television shows, but this movie almost straight rips it. But, I can’t say that it doesn’t stay interesting.
Maybe that’s the problem. This movie isn’t so much a train wreck as it is a random and uneventful story that doesn’t really give the viewer the moments we wait for. I would say that, while it was a no brainer that Bragan was turning into a plant, it would’ve redeemed the film a little to show the audience his hand without the glove. And maybe even have him commit suicide and take the creature with him rather than they accidentally fall into the volcano during the struggle.
Let’s tell the truth here, people: horror movies are like porn. Yeah, the stuff from the beginning and throughout the film is great, but we’re all ultimately waiting for the big finale: the Money Shot. We wanna see the shocking effects, the blood, the dismemberment, and the surprise reveal even if we guessed the surprise and it’s just confirming what we already know.
That’s what The Revenge of Dr. X is: it’s porn with no money shot and ending credits filled with lies. LIES, I tell you! The credits were from another f**king movie, for crying out loud! Don’t we at least have the right to know who the hell did this to us?! Yeah, I get that Ed Wood is largely to blame (based on evidence but never really 100% proven by admission), but it’s not like he can tell us who brought it to film.
Give it a look if you’re just interested in a little bit of le Bad Cinema history, but don’t watch it expecting a masterpiece. Watch it expecting to be built up, then cut right before anything can really happen.