Saturday, July 8, 2017

From Hell It Came (1957)

From Hell It Came (1957): written by Richard Bernstein and Jack Milner; directed by Dan Milner; starring Tod Andrews (Dr. Arnold). Tina Carver (Dr. Mason), Linda Watkins (Mrs. Kilgore), John McNamara (Professor Clark), and Gregg Palmer (Kimo): Some combination of atomic-test fallout and native magic results in a murdered island prince returning as a walking, vengeful tree.

Startlingly wordy and inept, From Hell It Came would be a lot more fun if it were a lot less wordy. An eternity (well, about 40 minutes) drags by until the walking tree we've all been waiting for finally starts killing people. However, either because of censorship issues or the overall clumsiness of the tree outfit, our hero kills people by throwing them into quicksand or down hills.

An early scene impresses because the medium shots of the prince talking and talking and talking while staked to the ground for execution include a chicken in the left-top portion of the frame. The chicken provides quite the distraction, and then another chicken wanders into the frame. 

I do like the design of the tree monster, which is pretty much all face. It's not as scary-looking as the two male leads, however. Jesus, From Hell It Came has the ugliest male leads I've seen in a long time. Well, since The Night of the Lepus, anyway. Apparently, ugliness was no impediment to playing the male lead in a cheap Hollywood horror movie in the 1950's.

The island on which the action takes place is populated by nebulously conceived natives played (mostly) by white people and American scientists sent to investigate the effects of atomic fallout on the island and to treat natives who have 'The Black Plague.' A cultural clash ensues between Western medicine and native medicine. A male and female doctor bicker over her desire to be employed rather than married and pregnant. The usual. I think there's a parrot involved as well. Or maybe not. 

Linda Watkins as Mrs. Kilgore has the thankless role of a comic-relief shop-keeper on the island. Why there's a white shop-keeper on the island is beyond me, as the native population seems to be about 12 people and the only reason the scientists came to the island was to investigate fallout. The film-makers saddle Ms. Watkins with an Australian accent, an accent that is clearly and hilariously way, way beyond her acting range. 

It doesn't help that the screenwriters seem to confuse Australian with Cockney, or that their primary word indicators of an Australian are endless repetitions of the word "blooming" (OK) and "ducky" (one of the WTF bits of Hollywood Cockney). Not recommended, though intermittently funny.

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