Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

FROM HELL IT CAME


FROM HELL IT CAME (1957). Director: Dan Milner.

Scientists are testing the effects of radiation on the testy natives of a south seas island when a young man is put to death for political reasons after being accused of poisoning his own father. Innocent, he vows to come back from the grave and get vengeance. Before long, a strange tree trunk starts growing out of the spot where the man was buried. This weird tree has a knife sticking out of its trunk somewhat corresponding to the spot where the man was stabbed in the chest by his executioner. Our scientists dig up the trunk, take it to their lab, and medicate it intravenously, bringing it back to life. No one ever comments on the fact that the tree has a face with two eyes and a snarling mouth. Before long the tree is walking around the island clumsily murdering the ones who did him wrong and others who cross his path. The ridiculous looking monster by Paul Blaisdell has some of the charm of his creation for It Conquered the World and might have been moderately scary if it had been brought to life with some decent special effects. The basic idea of walking into a forest unaware that one of the trees is mobile, homicidal, and sentient is creepy, but rarely exploited by this time-waster of a movie. Richard Bernstein's screenplay has a couple of clever ideas in it (the tree trunk has a heartbeat and bleeds green “blood”) as well as a few quirky characters, such as the allegedly cockney widow who runs the trading post and is looking for a new husband. Most of the actors are barely competent, however, and the picture has little if any thrills. It's endearingly dopey in its own way, but not necessarily a lot of fun. Still fifties creature-feature completists will want to own it and may get a kick out of one or two scenes. [Available on video and DVD from Sinister Cinema.]

Verdict: Too weird for its own good. **.

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