by Doug Schultz
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)
3. Little Shop of Horrors (1960, 1986)
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)
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)
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.