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27.12.08

The Revenge of Doctor X (1970)



aka The Double Garden; The Devil Garden; Venus Flytrap

Director: Kenneth G. Crain
Writer: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Starring: James Craig, James Yagi
Running time: 94 minutes
Public Domain

Ed Wood wrote a screenplay called Venus Flytrap that was eventually picked up by Japan's Toei studios. At some point it was renamed The Devil Garden - which somehow became known as The Double Garden (heavy Asian accent, maybe?) - and has surfaced on video as The Revenge of Doctor X. The plot is like a cross between Frankenstein and Little Shop of Horrors, filtered through the singular mind of Ed Wood. Even by Wood standards, this film is completely nuts.

Dr. Bragan (James Craig, who was at one time a double for Clark Gable) is an overworked, short-tempered scientist who seeks some rest and relaxation in Japan. For some reason, he drives from Florida to Wilmington, NC (which happens to be the home base of the site you are currently viewing), where his car breaks down. He meets up with a mechanic/snake handler whose face is covered in grease paint. While waiting for his car to be repaired, he decides to dig up one of the local venus fly traps. Next thing you know, Bragan is in Japan, where he meets up with the cousin of his assistant. She takes Bragan to a huge house in the middle of the mountains, which just so happens to be right next to a very active, fire-spewing volcano. Bragan doesn't seem to interested in relaxation, though - he has extremely vague, yet very important, scientific work to do. After watching the hunchbacked groundskeeper play Toccata and Fugue in D minor, scuba diving with some topless Japanese ladies, and experimenting with some local plant life, we get to find out just what it is that Bragan has been feverishly working on: a man-sized, rubber monster with Wilmington Venus Flytrap hands. Dr. Bragan is the only one who seems to be surprised when the monster, which looks like something Paul Blaisdell threw together while drunk and blindfolded, begins chowing down on the locals.

This is one deliriously silly movie. The script is pure Ed Wood - full of unlikely conversations, non sequiturs, and some very strange one-liners. James Craig, as the obsessed scientist, shouts about a third of his lines - whether the situation calls for him to be angry or not. Stock music plays for virtually the entire running time, usually incongruent with what is happening on screen. The effects are terrible. It is painfully dumb, about twenty minutes too long, and makes little sense.

I thought it was a lot of fun. Only Ed Wood could dream up this kind of weirdness, and present it with the straightest face possible.

The Revenge of Doctor X is in the public domain, so it shouldn't be hard to track down. There are several budget-priced DVDs available, and it can also be downloaded off the net, free of charge. Most versions of this film feature the opening credits for The Mad Doctor of Blood Island, a completely unrelated film that shared a double bill with this Wood monstrosity.

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