★ out of ★★★★★ (but still kind of awesome)
A foam latex tiki tree monstrosity does its best Gumby impression in this awesomely bad classic from the Matinee Era of Horror.
In an era full of cheap and bad monster movies, this movie attempts to set the lowest bar for cheap and bad movies. You want “Polynesians” with New Jersey accents? Using live chickens as voodoo props? Bad foam latex costumes so stiff that the “actor” can’t bend the arm at the elbow? Using random potted plants to try and simulate a jungle in Southern California? Acting that makes the simple act of completing a line of dialogue seem like a victory? I don’t know that you could even call the Tabonga (the creature) a killer tree. It’s more like a killer stump. To add to the ridiculousness of it all, the monster really only has one deadly move. Pick up the victim and throw them into quicksand.
This movie stars, and I use that term loosely, Tod Andrews, Teri Mason, and John McNamara as the scientists, and the decidedly non-Polynesian natives Robert Swan, Gregg Palmer (who had a long career in cowboy movies), and Baynes Barron, the chief with a decidedly Brooklyn accent. There were times where you could see the cast searching their brains for their next lines, almost as if they had just received their scripts minutes before shooting. An anthropological bust also strongly in evidence by the presence of voodoo dolls (a Caribbean cultural phenomena) being wielded by Pacific Islanders. Also, it looks like the natives went down to the local surf shop for Hawaiian print tourist gear. They had a couple of passable hula dancers, but the rest of the “natives” ruin the effect by aimlessly flailing around in the background.
I present to you FROM HELL IT CAME, a “so bad it’s almost good” gem. The movie is mercifully only 71 minutes long. This movie makes It Conquered the World look lavish by comparison. I am rather stunned that it doesn’t have an MST 3000 parody. It ranks right up (or right down) with Plan 9 from Outer Space… with the notable difference that Bela Lugosi managed to Grace Plan 9 with his presence. All that said, I had fun watching this schlocktastic endeavor. I know there are a number of you out there who love a great terrible movie, and this is one almost lost to the annals of time… unloved, even by Riff Trax standards. If you like movies like The Horror of Party Beach and Robot Monster, you really should check this one out.
BEHOLD! The power of cheese… you have been warned.