Revenge of Doctor X [Akuma no niwa] (1967)

(aka, Venus Flytrap, Body of the Prey )

Sometimes you find a film that is far more interesting for all the weirdness surrounding it than for the film itself.

In fact it’s hard to get anything straight about this one.  The IMDB actually lists it twice, as a 1967 film and as a 1970 film.  And, despite most of the information out there, this one wasn’t made in the Philippines, nor did Filipino schlockmeister Eddie Romero direct it.

In fact, the credits attached to the available copies of this film list Eddie as the director and producer, although that’s because someone removed the original credits when it was released on video as a double feature with a Pinoy horror film and tacked on the current set.

The film was actually made in Japan, although it was an American production — and Japan has to fill in for North Carolina in the early parts of the film.

But the strangest part of all this is that the original story for this film was written by Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Yes, that Ed Wood.

But let’s not ignore the fact that this film is decidedly strange, although not in a good way.  It starts out with a NASA scientist on the verge of a nervous breakdown, who decides to take a vacation in Japan to relax.

After a brief side trip to the deep south, where he digs a Venus Flytrap out of the swamp to take along with him, he sets up his own biological research lab at an abandoned resort, between trips to beach and other distractions with his amazingly competent assistant, Noriko.  For a fair amount of the film’s running time, in fact, we get a lighthearted bit of Japanese travelogue, complete with bare-breasted native pearl divers, and it looks like it’s all about to turn into a romance.

Until, that is, he begins splicing that Venus Flytrap into another carnivorous plant he’s found and begins to create his own man-like creature in his greenhouse lab.

Naturally, he brings it to life with the help of a bit of lightning, in the best Frankenstein tradition.  He’s even acquired the requisite hunchbacked assistant.  This brings on the usual crowd of angry natives, and a classic ending where both monster and creator perish.

I honestly don’t know what to make of all this.  The tone varies so much as to be ridiculous, from out and out comedy in the scenes set in North Carolina; to the scenes showing trained scientist Noriko swimming underwater in a bikini or wearing a lacy nightgown; to the stormy night, with lightning flashing and the big plant thing hoisted up in chains to the top of the greenhouse for no reason I can discern.  I mean, is Dr. Bragan merely in need of a bit of rest, or are his sudden, violent outbursts the sign of madness?  Did anyone involved in this film actually know?

Oh well.  For fans of trash cinema, I should note that the monster does look silly enough, complete with sort of a pineapple shaped head and big Venus Flytrap hands.

But this one never quite reaches the levels of demented awfulness one expects from Ed Wood:  it merely hints at such depths of silliness and ultimately comes across as a bit dull (helped, no doubt, by the fact that Noriko tends to be a bit monotone, and most of the film plays out as a series of conversations with her).

So file it under the heading of “oddity”, suitable only for completists, bad movie fiends, and midnight viewings where the popcorn is seasoned with plenty of mockery.




Buy or Watch at Amazon


3 thoughts on “Revenge of Doctor X [Akuma no niwa] (1967)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.