1957 saw the release of From Hell it Came, a timbered b-movie about an ambulatory tree stump. Yeah, the "killer plants" deal was nothing new, but the sight of a walking topiary shape is giggle-worthy, you must admit. The following year, screenwriter Brandon Fleming got an idea. "I wanna do that!" And so, 1958 saw the release of The Woman Eater. Maybe the two projects were sired around the same time. Who knows? For that matter, who cares? I will never bemoan the fact that there was a glut of vagarious, half-cranked monster dailies in the late 50's. I live on this shit. The one glaring difference between these seedlings is the mobility of the mutant shrubbery.
The woman eater in The Woman Eater is confined to a stationary spot. I can't walk either, man. I get it. I don't get what the woman eater (in The Woman Eater) has against...y'know, women. See, a mossback scientist fuddy-duddy borrows what can only be described as a misogynist triffid from an Amazonian tribe. If you feed girls into the tree like a paper shredder, it produces a serum that can bring the dead back to life. How did the tribe discover these orphic powers? Does it have to be a twiggy female (no pun intended, fuck you)? Did they try using anything else as plant food? What kind of ulterior motive is galvanizing Tanga, the bongo boy, and how many whippits did he inhale before each take?
I swear to Jay Christ, Tanga is on another fucking planet. As part of the sacrifice ritual, he beats his bongos with full-blooded chaos in his eyes. God to the damn! Right, so there is more to the sexist, racist plot. A carnival dancer (???) is unjustly fired and finds work as the aforementioned fuddy-duddy's housekeeper. She is very nearly devoured, but luckily for her, Dr. Frankenvine turns babyface in the bottom of the ninth. Ugh, why wasn't this flick called Frankenvine? I'm a genius, I tell you. All told, The Woman Eater is harmless entertainment. The pacing is whatever...no, I'm not going to discuss the pacing. Or the lighting. Or the acting.
Let's discuss how obviously offensive the premise is, shall we? I'm offended. Me! Please note that I'm not offended by the customary hot button issues (racism, sexism, etc.). I'm offended by how brazen the film's bawdiness purports to be. It's designed to hoist pretty goils into the exigency of sideshow horrors. That way, they can be rescued by - you guessed it - men! Why does the frackin' creeper sprout eat women? Because it was 1958, and fuck bitches! I know I'm being hard on this drive-in doodad, but there is zero inspiration here. For what it's worth, The Woman Eater does its job, albeit to meet an obstinate end. Um, two Z'Dars. Too generous? Not generous enough? Form your own opinion. I'm out.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 3:54 PM