Note: This piece was prepared as a Video Cheese review for www.jabootu.net and has been published here by the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg.
SEEDS OF EVIL (1974 - color)
"There's something weird about that hunky gardener and the plants he grows with almost supernatural speed."
one had me a little nervous for a reel or two. Our set up is this:
the wife of a businessman (who's never home) spends time chatting
with her over-sexed friend, and then hires a hunky giant of a gardener who never
wears a shirt. All this is filmed in 1970's Cheap-o-vision, so it
seemed destined to turn into a skin flick* at any moment. Thankfully
(?), it didn't. The poster, meanwhile, promised a monster movie (I was
expecting to see a mad scientist growing plant people in his green
bulk of the action is more a mystery story, as it becomes increasingly
clear that there's something odd about the gardener, and his employer
begins to dig into his background.
(*Actually, given the film's rating, the way it was advertised, and regional distribution practices at the time, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were different cuts of this film. One for more general releases, and one for more 'adult' audiences. Given how boring this whole thing is, I can only imagine the racier cut, if it exists, might at the very least be more interesting to watch....)
The opening sequence is intriguing, as it opens with a
is-it-real-or-isn't-it frame which sticks with us during much of the
show. We see a woman in a hospital bed, and the nurse brings in a vase
of flowers. Waking, the woman sees them and freaks out. The nurse
rushes in to find her dead, but did she die because the flowers were
releasing some kind of poison, or did she scare herself to death?
of the film will walk this tightrope, letting us know something isn't quite right
about the gardener, but keeping things framed in such a way as to make
us wonder if it isn't just in our imaginations. That's not to say this
is a great movie or anything. It certainly isn't concerned about
pacing. In the end, I've seen much, much worse. However, I've also seen
much, much better, so take it from there.
The last reel changes everything about the movie, so I'll have to
discuss the film in full. Should you wish to view the film at any time,
beware that I must blow several plot twists. Spoilers ahead, ye be
The story: A woman hires a gardener, impressed by the work he did
for his previous (now deceased) employer. In a short time, the gardener has
transformed the back yard into a lush jungle. However, he's upsetting
the other servants, and downright terrifies the maid.
As his plants
grow, he also seems to be demonstrating a supernatural sway over his
employer, who sees nothing wrong despite the odd behavior of the man,
and his plants. Her husband keeps getting cut by supposedly harmless
plants potted and taken into the house. Some flowers the gardener
provides for a costume the lady wears seem to put her in a trance until
her husband pulls them off, bloodying his hand in the process (earlier,
they were poking him whenever he tried to touch her, but she could find
no sharp points anywhere).
When a visiting relative (a hot-to-trot
young hippie chick who tries to seduce the gardener -I'm telling you,
it was always two steps away from becoming a porno) vanishes after
being alone with him, our heroine finally decides there's something fishy about
Rather than drop him outright, she forms a plan to vacation with
her husband for a few months so she can hire the mysterious figure out
to her slutty friend. The pair then do an extensive background check
and discover the man has a history of his employers turning up dead or terrified.
(Sorry to be so generic, by the time I got around to writing this, I'd
forgotten all the characters' names!)
At any rate, this background of
terror and death is enough to convince our heroine, but not her slutty
friend (who seems more eager than before to have the guy hanging around
her place), that something smells rotten in the garden..... Last chance to turn back if you don't want to learn the
Our heroine checks in on her friend, and we finally delve fully into
monster-movie horror. Now, if we're watching a science fiction of a
fantasy premise being played out, that's left to our imaginations. She
finds her friend clinging to a gate, vines growing into her body!
And no, that isn't explained in any way.
Our heroine tries to cut her friend loose, but the vines are full of human blood and the
friend dies from the wounds to the vegetation. (A more interesting film might have been
watching the police investigate the aftermath of all this.) Now gunning
for the shirtless gardener, she darts off after him. Knowing his number
is up, he suddenly begins sprouting vines!
Also completely unexplained, by the way.
When she catches up to him,
she sees him transforming into a tree! (This image was used for the
poster art, and while the image is indeed in the film, I think was a bit
of a cheat to show us something that concerns only the final two or so
minutes of screen time.)
With the monster escaped, and
our heroine likely going to be held responsible for the death of her
friend, and this being the mid 70's and all, I expected the film to end
on this note.
However, they decided not to just end things as they are. Instead,
our heroine grabs a can of gasoline, douses the tree, and burns it to
the ground. I really admired seeing a character do something
intelligent like that. Still, we're sort of left with a question as to
if what we just saw was 'real' of just a delusion suffered by our
The final word: An intriguing picture, but one of those more interesting upon reflection than when actually watching it!