Friday, October 18, 2019

The Woman Eater (1958)

'Tree eats woman' pretty much sums up this extremely low budget addition to the ranks of cinematic carnivorous vegetables.  A product of Britain's own 'Poverty Row', (it was distributed by Eros Films, a tinpot outfit responsible for putting out some of the UK's trashiest - and often most enjoyable - schlock during the fifties and sixties), The Woman Eater has an extremely poor reputation.  There's no doubt that it has pretty poor production values and utterly ludicrous dialogue.  Not to mention an incredibly rickety title monster.  The plot is simple: mad scientist George Coulouris discovers an Amazonian tribe who worship a carnivorous tree which, when fed live women, secretes a serum which can bring the dead back to life.  After a bout of jungle fever, he brings the tree and a witch doctor back to London and proceeds to feed unsuspecting young women to it.  Their disappearances naturally attract the attention of the police and it all ends in the fiery conflagration shown at the end of the trailer.

Along the way, Coulouris murders his lover/housekeeper then brings her back to life with the serum, discovering in the process that the tree serum alone can only revive the dead as mindless zombies.  He accuses the witch doctor of double crossing him, which elicits the response: 'Our secret is not for you.  The brain is just for us'.  It is this sort of insane dialogue, along with Coulouris' over the top performance and the utterly ludicrous tree, which are the film's redeeming features.  Otherwise, it is of very poor quality.  Still, it only runs seventy minutes.  There is a certain irony to the final scenes of the woman eating tree burning -  the original prop was supposedly destroyed in a fire shortly before shooting commenced, leaving the props department only a few days to create the awful replacement seen on screen. The Woman Eater does turn up on TV every so often - I originally encountered it on Movies4Men (now Sony Movies Action) and I'm pretty sure that Talking Pictures TV show it every so often.  It' worth seeing, if only as a reminder that we could do low budget trash just as well as Hollywood could.



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