Remember a few weeks back when I described the difficulty of being a film collector and discovering something “new”? Well, lightning has struck twice and in the oddest of ways. A random conversation between film buffs about horror hosts resulted in the discovery of an old British horror flick called Woman Eater (1958) that is rarely talked about today. Yet, this odd little gem is now in my collection.
Some key and familiar elements are present in this film from the start. You have one part mad scientist and one part jungle native god. Add in a man servant and some lovely but unsuspecting female victims and you have Woman Eater. Our tale begins with Dr. James Moran (George Coulouris, Pathfinders to Mars, Tarzan and the Lost Safari) heading off into the Amazon jungle in search of the secrets to bringing the dead back to life. He discovers a jungle tribe sacrificing a lovely native girl into the clutches of a flesh-eating man-sized plant. After he captures the plant and brings it back home to England, he begins his experiments for the life-giving fluid from the plant. Of course, he now has a man servant banging on the drums and hypnotizing beautiful female victims, luring them into the plant’s open branches. Can the local police find out why women are disappearing in time?
I really liked Woman Eater as I am a sucker for cheesy man-eating plants. The English background made for something different and enhanced the movie for me. Of course, having the attractive Vera Day (Quatermass 2, The Haunted Strangler) grace the screen didn’t hurt. Yes, the man-eating plant was goofy looking but it didn’t detract from the fun of this flick. And yes, the film obviously had a very low budget. That said, the film moves along at a fairly brisk pace except for about mid-way when we had the obligatory romantic storyline thrown in for good measure. It doesn’t hurt the film too much and is necessary to help round things out. Dr. Moran never really goes too far into the stereotypical mad scientist role until the end when he proclaims his love for Sally. Nothing like unrequited love to send a madman over the edge. And I wonder, did this flick in any way inspire The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)?
Special thanks to Joel Sanderson over at The Basement Sublet of Horror for this one. Several years back, he had the opportunity to meet a childhood favorite of mine in Crematia Mortem. Crematia, who is in reality Roberta Solomon, was my horror hostess growing up. From 1981 to 1988, Crematia offered up horror flicks every Saturday night on Creature Feature. Joel had a few copies of the old show in his collection and this rare flick was on one of them. In fact, it aired in 1985 as Crematia was giving away tickets to see a new horror movie called Fright Night for a special screening at the old Bannister Mall here in Kansas City. I have some other episodes of Creature Feature along with Nightmare starring The Host, so you can expect some other cool and random reviews in the forthcoming weeks.
Finding a copy of Woman Eater for your collection isn’t going to be too tough. There is a print on YouTube but it has been edited and is way too dark. However, Image Entertainment released it on DVD a few years back and it’s even on Amazon Prime. Watch the trailer and decide for yourself. That said, I was pleasantly surprised and I recommend it for a fun late night creature feature.