Tuesday, October 14, 2014

9 Evil Plants in Horror Movies

by Doug Schultz
There are lots of shitty killers in horror movies. Snow men (Jack Frost). Cookies (The Gingerdead Man). Babadooks (The Babadook). But none shittier than murderous flora.

1. The Happening (2008)

Let's start with the shittiest, shall we? In this M. Night Shyamalan environmental abortion, a neurotoxin spread by plants makes people commit suicide. With knitting needles. In their necks. Shyamalan's all, "Guys! We better clean up the environment! People love my cameos! The Sixth Sense wasn't a fluke! Guys? GUYS!?" This movie had two goals: 1.) to scare you (it didn't scare anyone), and 2.) to make you THINK! About Mother Earth! And how petty, selfish humans are KILLING IT! I mean, don't you get it? We're murdering ourselves ... THROUGH THE PLANTZ! Like a bunch of assholes!

2. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)
It's right there in the title. And if the Mad magazine-inspired cover art for the VHS tape didn't make you want to rent it from your local Video Plus Emporium, well then ... I just don't know you anymore.

3. Little Shop of Horrors (1960, 1986)
Would anyone even know what a Venus flytrap was if it weren't for these movies? Don't answer that question, botanists. The first incarnation of Little Shop of Horrors is a cheap Roger Corman horror/comedy B-movie shot in two days (at least, its principal shoot -- second unit photography extended the schedule); the second is one of the best known horror/musical hybrids, capitalizing on (I'm assuming?) the silver screen charm of a young Rick Moranis. Sure, the plant here isn't so much "evil" as it is a sadistic creation of an inadequate florist (and it's definitely played more for laughs than scares). In any event ... to a new world of gods and monsters!

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978), Body Snatchers (1993), The Invasion (2007)

You know you're onto something (I'm talking to you, Jack Finney) when your 1954 novel The Body Snatchers gets made into a movie not once, not twice, but FOUR TIMES. While the latter day iterations provide diminishing returns (especially The Invasion, which concerns itself with a virus, not xenobotanical spores, so FORGET YOU!), the first two films are classics in their own, separate rights. So maybe my dismissive preamble to this entire column is a bit harsh? Then again, these movies share more in common with the Alien franchise (i.e., the pods are more "seeds" than they are "eggs") then they do with, say, The Happening.

5. Poltergeist (1982)

If there's one thing scarier than the clown in Poltergeist (there is nothing scarier than the clown in Poltergeist), it's the possessed tree. It smashes through a bedroom window during a thunderstorm, grabs young Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) and begins to ingest him. Don't worry -- everyone's saved at the last minute by (you guessed it) a TORNADO. As if that's not enough, we soon find out that this goddamn tree is just RUNNING INTERFERENCE so that ghosts in the closet (aka, the portal to hell) could suck in Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) to their spirit realm. So, again, the tree is a simple DISTRACTION. Team player, that gnarled tree is.

6. Creepshow (1982)
Stephen King covers himself in moss. Instead of cocaine.

7. The Ruins (2008)

If you like talking killer vines (as in vines that talk -- not you, yourself, talking ABOUT killer vines), then this is for you! Unfortunately, you wouldn't even know it's about killer vines if you read any of the plot synopses (both IMDb and Netflix stress the "cursed ruins of a forgotten city"). Is it safe to assume that, in 2008, audience tolerance for a silly story about murderous jungle foliage is pretty low? The movie eschews most of the evil plant stuff in favor of a basic survival story. And that's a shame, because The Ruins is more than just another teen horror movie (I say that in a good way).

8. The Thing from Another World (1951)
John Carpenter's The Thing is more in line with the 1938 source novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. (written under the pen name Don A. Stuart), but its first big screen adaptation was Christian Nyby's 1951 black-and-white science fiction film The Thing from Another World. Most assume the movie was secretly directed by Howard Hawks rather than Nyby (um, Tobe Hooper much?), as Hawks gave Nyby only $5,460 of the $50,000 director's fee, but Hawks denied that he directed it. In a 1982 interview, Nyby said, "Did Hawks direct it? That's one of the most inane and ridiculous questions I've ever heard!" Uh, that's NOT AN ANSWER, CHRISTIAN.

9. The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), Evil Dead (2013)

Two words: PLANT RAPE. Compare and contrast with the rape scene from the 2013 remake, here.  Did these movies inspire Urotsukidōji, the first Japanese manga series to introduce "tentacle rape"? Which, disgustingly, has its very own Wikipedia page?  I HOPE NOT.


  1. Great list Doug, it reminds me why I'm afraid of that tree outside my window. Though it's not necessarily a horror movie, the man-eating plant from Jumanji always gave me nightmares as a kid. I think it was that furry little hood covering the pod that did it. Plus, plants shouldn't have tongues, you know?

  2. Great work Doug. I was wondering if the trees or the Woods in The Evil Dead would get a mention. Top work

    As for the comparison the original makes me go ouch. And the remake makes me go urrrggghhhh. So the best comparison in the films is between comparing the differences in ouch and uurrrggghhh..

  3. The Little Shop of Horrors had second unit footage???

    Also, to show you how great Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was Tim Burton stole the ending for Mars Attacks!....

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