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Stick on those bulgy veins, fellow mad scientists!! Let's take a stroll through the land of crazy plants.

We love them all: Alien, Radioactive, Chemically Mutated, and Genetically Engineered!! Join us for the ARCMAGE festival: Celebrating monster plants on film. The films are presented in no order. There does seem to be an alternating theme of mad scientist creates human-plant crossovers vs. alien/mutant man-eaters. Suspension of disbelief: Engage!!

First up....one of Godzilla's greatest enemies!!

In 1989 geneticist Dr. Shiragami, in order to salvage the essence of his beloved daughter, Erika, combined her DNA with cells of her favorite roses and (of course) those of Godzilla. "Biollante grew to a point where it became a cognitive monstrous tendrilled plant with a toothed mouth and tentacles."

A rarer movie but a must see for Godzilla fans.

But wait! Genetic engineering isn't the only way to make a monster plant.

The subject of comic books and movies, Swamp Thing is a mad scientist (Alec Holland/Alex Olsen) turned plant by a dreadful (or fortunate) chemical mutation mishap. This misunderstood superhero was first introduced in comics in 1972. "He is a humanoid mass of vegetable matter who fights to protect his swamp home, the environment in general, and humanity, from various supernatural threats." Swamp Thing's most famous appearance was probably with Adrienne Barbeau in the cult classic 1982 movie directed by Wes Craven. A sequel with Heather Locklear was made in 1989 and a short-lived television series was spawned in 1991.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88% fresh

As long as we're talking about "things"...don't forget the original Thing from another world!

It's 1951 and a hominoid plant from outer space crashes into the Arctic. Luck is a funny thing...although landing in a frozen wasteland, the Thing is lucky enough to find a greenhouse at the nearby science research station. From here, the Thing can set seed, take over the world and (of course) kill all the humans! Fortunately for us, the scientists were ready to save the planet. Go scientists! It's sad that John Carpenter did not stick with the plant theme in his 1982 remake set at an Antarctic research station. Okay, so it was truer to the book but come on...no plants??!!

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90% fresh

Back to mad scientists!!

A beautiful botanist and biochemist becomes the deadly villainess Poison Ivy. Played by Uma Thurman in the 1997 flick Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy (a.k.a. Dr. Pamela Isely) was first introduced in 1966!! Supposedly her character's look was loosely based on Betty Page. Maniacal beauty working to make the world a better place....for plants!! Bwaahaahahaha!

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 13% rotten

Fun Fact: The catechol derivative urushiol (3-pentadecanedienyl catechol) is what makes you itch. Humans are the only mammals to have such a reaction.

Of course no discussion of monster plants is complete without tomatoes from outer space!

It's 1978 and "a group of scientists must band together to save the world from mutated tomatoes that KILL!" The defeat was temporary. A young George Clooney appeared in the even campier 1988 sequel Returned of the Killer Tomatoes when "crazy old Professor Gangreen has developed a way to make tomatoes look human for a second invasion". Many less notable versions followed including Killer Tomatoes Strike Back (1990) and Killer Tomatoes Eat France (1991).

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 27% rotten

Of course if crazy killer plants are your thing you must remember The Little Shop of Horrors.

The original is still the best. Little Shop is the story of "a nerdish florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed." The 1960 version with Jack Nicholson was filmed in two days! The story was retold as a stage musical with songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman in 1982. Frank Oz brought the musical to film in 1986. It's not all bad when a film falls in the comedy-horror-sci-fi-muscial genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89% fresh

Next...More mad scientists!!

The Mutations (a.k.a. The Freakmaker or The Dr. of Evil) is "a creepy horror film about a mad scientist who abducts college students for the subjects he needs in his attempts to crossbreed plants with humans. " Typical of horror movies of its day (1974), it can't really be called a classic. My favorite review is from IMDB "If you thought Swamp Thing was too intellectual and The Fly was just too gross, this movie might definitely be for you. One of many human-cross-animal or plant movies, what causes this one to stand out is the overall creepiness of Donald Pleasance..."

Back to crazy killer plants!

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 classic. Okay, the plot summary is bizarre but it actually is a good watch: "A shower of meteorites produces a glow that blinds anyone that looks at it. As it was such a beautiful sight, most people were watching, and as a consequence, 99% of the population go blind. This chaos results in the escape of some Triffids: experimental plants that are capable of moving themselves around and attacking people." You gotta love it!

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83% fresh

Here's one your probably don't remember:

Eat or Be Eaten! "A giant kudzu plant takes over a town and demands that the residents provide a suitable human sacrifice." Described as a stream of consciousness piece from the Firesign Theater comedy troupe this little gem is only 30 minutes long.

And who could forget...

Orignally shot in 1956, Invasion of the Body Snatchers set the standard for horrifying science fiction. "Aliens come to Earth in the form of "seed pods" that burst open and spew out a foam which grows into human duplicates, complete with all the memories of the original. The best scene in the film takes place in a greenhouse where several alien pods burst open..." The 1978 remake starring Jeff Goldblum, Donald Sutherland, and Leonard Nimoy, was just as good if not better than the original.

Best quote from the movie: "Well why not a space flower? Why do we always expect metal ships?"

Finally, not a monster plant movie exactly but plant-related weirdness you just have to see:

Hybrid: One Man's Passion for Corn (not to be confused with the 1997 movie Hybrid about an alien cockroach-snake) is a documentary about a corn-breeder named Milford Beeghly. "In a rather unusual form, where animations of crawling and mating corncobs alternate with meditative nature scenes, Hybrid tells the story of one mans obsession for hybrid corn....Beeghly had a passion for developing hybrid corn and appeared on early black and white television, hawking his daring new seed at a time when hybridization was considered a wicked kind of plant incest. The film is in part a history of agricultural practices during the depression and a science lesson, explaining how corn procreates."

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87% fresh

Movies that didn't make the cut for viewing but might entertain you nonetheless:
Seeds of Evil (1975) "A sinister landscaper turns into a tree and learns to communicate with his fellow plants."