The Revenge of Dr X (AKA Body of the Prey, AKA Venus Flytrap) is a 1970 US-Japanese co-production, based on a script by the legendary Ed Wood, Jr.
It starts out with the launch of a space mission, but this has nothing whatever to do with the movie. Rocket scientist Dr Bragan (James Craig) has been working too hard and his doctor recommends a complete rest. His assistant, Dr Nakamura, suggests a trip to Japan, a suggestion the workaholic Dr Bragan surprisingly accepts.
On arrival in Japan Dr Bragan is met by Dr Nakamura’s beautiful cousin, Noriko Hanamura. Her family owns several resort hotels, including one in the mountains that has been deserted for several years. It was too remote and the roads were too bad, as well as being rather too close to an active volcano. Its remoteness is just what Dr Bragan craves.
Dr Bragan now turns to his first love, botany. He has a venus flytrap with him and he clearly has a fascination with carnivorous plants. His objective now is to find a rare Japanese aquatic carnivorous plant. To do this he calls on the help of the famous Japanese female ama divers, which offers the opportunity for some gratuitous topless scenes.
By grafting the two species together he will create a super plant carnivore. He does so, and the resulting hybrid is not only carnivorous, it moves. Since it moves it must be basically human and have intelligence. This proves that humans evolved from plants. No, I don’t follow that reasoning either but hey, it’s a horror movie. Of course to bring his new plant to life he needs lightning, and a convenient electrical storm does the trick.
Of course you know that playing around with man-sized walking carnivorous plants is not going to turn out to be a good idea.
Dr Bragan as played by James Craig is clearly paranoid and somewhat unhinged right from the start. He flies off the handle if anyone questions him or takes any undue interest in his work. Craig’s jumpy performance is the highlight of the movie. You know right away you’re dealing with a mad scientist. It’s not good acting but at least it’s entertaining. That’s more than can be said of the other actors in this film.
The actress who plays Noriko is unbelievably dull. Luckily the deserted hotel which becomes Dr Bragan’s laboratory has a caretaker, a hunchback who plays the organ, which offers the opportunity for some gratuitous organ music.
This is something of a mystery movie. No-one knows who directed it (the opening credits on the only surviving print are from a different movie). No-one is even absolutely sure that Ed Wood wrote the screenplay but it’s so typically Ed Wood that there’s not much doubt on that score.
The monster itself is gloriously goofy. You can’t seriously dislike a movie that has a guy in a rubber suit playing a killer plant.
This is a very bad movie indeed but like everything that Ed Wood touched it’s perversely fascinating. Recommended for Ed Wood fans.
Synergy’s DVD release is absolutely atrocious. It’s fullframe and looks like a very inferior VHS copy.