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From Hell It Came


Title: From Hell It Came
Year Of Release: 1957
Running Time: 71 minutes
DVD Released By: Warner Archive Collection
Directed By: Dan Milner
Writing Credits: Richard Bernstein (story & screenplay), Jack Milner
(story)
Starring: Tod Andrews, Tina Carver, Linda Watkins
Taglines:
1. Frightmare! Born of Jungle Witchcraft! Created by a Curse!
2. The Beast-Thing from the Out of the Earth!
3. Its Roots Reaching Down to the Dead!
4. Its Crawling Creepers reaching out For Human Flesh!
5. Its Monstrous Body Bulldozing Its Way Thru the Jungle Night!
Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 3.15.16

Shadow's Title: "Board Stiff"

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 From Hell it Came

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From Hell it Came

Characters
Professor Howard Clark – He heads up a group of American scientists that have set up shop on a tropical island in order to help the natives, who have been exposed to radioactive fallout after an atomic bomb detonation. He’s your typical “always believe in science and not superstition” type of scientist. He also likes to wear ascots a lot of the time, which borders on pretentious asshole behavior.
Dr. William Arnold – He works with Professor Clark, but after an indeterminate amount of time on the island, he is itching really, really bad to return to the States. Having developed the hots for his co-worker Terry Mason is the reason, and his desire to marry her and engage in lots of sex has got his priorities in a jumble. That and his worrying about her coming to harm at the hands of the locals.
Dr. Terry Mason – Another one of the American scientists. She is the only one who actually seems both invested in her job and halfway competent at what she does. She’s too devoted to her career to throw it all away on a whim by marrying Arnold, despite his best efforts to charm her. She’s more interested in bringing strange tree monsters to life, as it is her expertise that allows the Tabanga to get loose.
Eddie – It’s unclear what his exact role was. He was not a scientist, but performed all the other duties like operating the radio, driving the jeep, waving his gun around to scare off the locals and whatnot. He also wore a uniform, so I assumed he was the liaison between the scientists and the U.S. Navy. He must have pissed off some Admiral to get this posting, acting as all around bitch for a bunch of eggheads.
Mrs. Mae Kilgore – She opened and runs a trading post on the island, trading with the locals. She is also the film’s designated comedy relief, so she is annoying beyond words. She speaks with an accent and sprinkles her words with liberal uses of “Bloomin’” and “Duckie.” She is obviously quite fond of substantial amounts of alcohol and worst of all, she is hot to trot, looking to score husband number three.
Orchid – This woman was an outcast from the local native tribe, probably because her father was Dutch and she was raised by a missionary after her parents died. Because the locals want nothing to do with her, she works for the Americans, seemingly as a maid. She hopes to earn enough money to get off the island and maybe one day meet herself a rich husband. Don’t all women dream of that?
Chief Maranka – This moron is the new chief of the island’s native population. He conspired with the witch doctor Tano to murder the old chief, who was friendly towards the Americans. Maranka also charmed Kimo’s wife into betraying him so the blame for the old chief’s death could be placed on him and thus mandating a death sentence for Kimo. Having grabbed power, he now plans on killing the Americans.
Tano – The local witch doctor. He was mad when the American medicine proved more powerful at combating a local plague than his own crappy efforts. He and Maranka conspired to remove the old chief and his son Kimo, then rid themselves of the Americans and anyone else that may oppose them. He kind of looks like a young, perpetually constipated Steven Seagal.
Kimo – The son of the old chief. He and his father were friendly toward the Americans, knowing they were there to help them with both the radioactive fallout and a mysterious plague that was killing the locals. After he is falsely accused of killing his father and is sentenced to death, he vows to return from the grave to seek revenge on all those who wronged him. I wonder if that includes the casting director.
Korey – This is Kimo’s wife. On the idea of being the new chief’s wife, she betrayed her husband, allowing him to be wrongly accused and then put to death. Too bad for her Maranka then turns his back on her on the grounds that he could never trust a traitor like her. Super bad for her is the fact that she is the first person Kimo comes looking for when he returns as the Tabanga.
Naomi – After Maranka assumes power, he quickly loses interest in Korey and decides to cozy up to this broad. Needless to say, Korey does not like her at all. At one point she tries to kill Naomi and the worst cat fight in all of cinema plays out across the screen with stunt doubles whose hair doesn't even match the actresses' own locks very well. Norgu – One of the tribe members who was friends with Kimo and who trusted the Americans. He came to the scientists to get help for his wife, Dori. He was also the one who informed them all about the legend of the Tabanga, nearly crapping his Hawaiian print shorts when he saw the sketch of the Tabanga made by one of the scientists.
Dori – She is brought to the scientists by her husband, Norgu, to seek help for the plague that has given her severe pizza face. The scientists came to the island expecting to treat the effects of radiation but instead, found a strange disease killing the locals. They’re failure to save the old chief (who was murdered by Tano and Maranka, anyway) has soured the locals on accepting help from the Americans. The Tabanga – This is Kimo after he returns from the dead, some combination of magic, sheer spite and radiation transforming his body and wooden coffin into an ambulating tree monster that is out for revenge. Despite being made from wood, he is quite fire-proof. He is also still interested in the ladies and no doubt gives an all new meaning to the term, sporting wood.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Trump’s hairpiece?The title card appears, featuring artwork that is supposed to be a jungle background with a few crude huts in the center. The movie title appears, each letter made to resemble a tree, a stump or wood! As the credits unfold, the music blares at us. At first it had a creepy vibe to it with the brief use of a Theremin, but almost instantly it segues into a big band number that I would fully expect to hear in one of those fancy nightclubs back in the 40’s or 50’s. Seriously, I fully expected Ricky Ricardo to appear and start singing.

Once the credits fade away, we open on a shot of a tropical beach. There is a mostly clear sky, palm trees, waves lapping against the shoreline and a slight breeze. It looks like paradise! I’m ready to grab my board and go surfing! Alas, this may be the only time we actually see any location remotely near a tropical region for the remainder of the film. I can only assume this shot was lifted out of a stock footage vault somewhere, because I can’t see the producers flying anyone to the tropics (even Hawaii) in order to film this shot.

We now turn to a large group of native people. I don’t know if they are supposed to be on the beach or just near the beach. Either way, the area around them looks NOTHING like a tropical jungle and everything like some patch of woods in Southern California. Also, these folks are rather pale for people who are supposedly indigenous to the region. We focus first on Tano, the local witch doctor, who is sitting cross-legged on a straw mat and is decked out in an outfit that can only be described as...scratchy. There is the obligatory face paint, but stuffed into his headdress and other garments are the leaves from about a million palm fronds. He looks like he was caught in an explosion at the local wicker furniture factory. Either that or the worst spokesman ever for your nearest Hawaiian BBQ establishment. Tano is holding a knife to a small doll. Is that supposed to be a voodoo doll? This is supposed to be the South Pacific, not the Caribbean!

So Tano speaks up and says, “Kimo, you have committed the greatest crime of all.”

Instantly the crime of appearing in this film comes to mind, but Tano doesn’t mean that. He means that Kimo has betrayed his own people.

We now get a look at this Kimo guy, who is spread eagle on the ground, tied to several stakes. Two men stand over him, one holding a large knife and the other a long club-like piece of wood.

We learn that Kimo’s father was the tribe’s chief. Note that I said he was the chief. It seems the old chief got sick and died. Tano and the new chief, a moron named Maranka, blame Kimo for the former chief’s death. For that, Kimo must die. Naturally, Kimo proclaims his innocence. He says his father died from “the black plague,” but Tano counters by saying it was the Americans’ devil dust that killed him. So the old chief died from a cocaine overdose? No? I guess the American “devil dust” must refer to something else, then.

Through plenty of inane dialog, we learn the gist of the situation. The old chief, who was friendly to the visiting Americans, got sick. Tano, who felt threatened by the Americans’ advanced science and medicine, hatched a plan with Maranka to dispose of the old chief, blame it on Kimo and then with their newfound power, tell the Americans to get lost. They even coerced Kimo’s wife, Korey, into aiding their plan to poison the old chief. Truly, Kimo is screwed.

Perhaps sensing that his number is up and seeing that his wife has betrayed him, Kimo now vows to return from the grave to seek revenge on all of them. Then he is put to death. The two men standing over him accomplish this when one holds that large knife over Kimo’s heart and the other guy uses his big club to hammer it into his chest. Surprisingly, there is not a single drop of blood to be seen.

Kimo is no sooner dead that someone starts banging a drum and the assembled crowd launches into a celebratory dance! Wow, I guess he was really unpopular in these parts. All that was missing was someone singling Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead. Note how the frenzied drum beat in no way matches the sedate movement of the single guy pounding a drum. It also looks like the entire tribe does their shopping at the Paradise Clothing website.

Watching all this from behind some bushes is a blonde Caucasian woman. This is Mrs. Kilgore, but by the end of the movie you may end up referring to her as The Annoying One, Mrs. Killme or even Mrs. Please Shut The Fuck Up. As she watches, four guys bearing a crude upright coffin come to collect Kimo’s body while the dancing continues in the background.

“All this fancy equipment and we can’t even brew a decent beer.”We now turn our attention to the Americans referenced earlier. We see Dr. William Arnold and Professor Clark. The building they are in - which appears to be just one great big room - seems to be outfitted with a lot of medical and scientific equipment. Wherever it is located, it’s not too far away from where the natives just killed Kimo and are now having a shindig, because we can easily hear the drums in the distance. Professor Clark sits, sipping some booze while Arnold wanders around the place. He pours himself some coffee, cuts up an apple for a caged monkey and generally cannot seem to stay in one spot.

The two men converse with one another and it can only be described as “As You Know” dialog. This is a form of exposition where one character explains to another something that they both know, but the audience doesn't or may have forgotten. This is also referred to as “maid and butler dialog.” This often originated in stage plays where two supporting characters – often the maid and the butler - would be used to help set up the story: “As you know, Mr. Tidwell, Lord Warner will be arriving home from the theater at nine.” So as Arnold and Clark talk, we learn several important things that the filmmakers really, really want us to know:

1.The United States detonated an atomic bomb as part of a test somewhere in the south Pacific and a freak typhoon blew the radioactive fallout across 1500 miles of ocean to the island they now occupy.

2. These two, as part of some international foundation, came to the island to help treat the natives, who may be suffering the effects of the fallout.

3. The natives refer to the fallout as Devil Dust (so it wasn’t a coke binge that killed the old chief, after all).

4. Rather than the fallout killing off the natives, there is some sort of plague that is dropping them like flies, instead. The radiation on the island is hardly more than a dental x-ray, yet the natives blame the Americans for their woes.

5. Arnold did his best to save the life of the local tribe’s former chief, but was unable to prevent him from dying.

6. The Americans know that Tano the witch doctor is the one orchestrating events so as to turn his people against the Americans.

7. Doctor Arnold really, really, really wants to go back to the United States, but he has fallen in love with a Dr. Terry Mason who is working on another nearby island and who is devoted to her career, viewing marriage as a prison.

As the two talk, we cut away a couple times to see Mrs. Kilgore stumbling through the jungle, the sound of drums constant in the background. Arnold and Clark are refilling their drinks (coffee and booze, respectively) when a guy named Eddie enters the place. He mumbles something about one of the generators acting up and how he fixed it just in time. I guess that means that he is some sort of mechanic or maintenance guy. He also is wearing a holstered gun, so maybe he’s the security guy, too. I wonder if he cooks and does the laundry? Nah, they’d get a minority to do that. Seeing as how the clothes he is wearing are similar to old military uniforms and I’d venture to say that he is the liaison between the scientists and the Navy when he’s not being everyone’s bitch.

Along about now there is a horrified scream from outside. For a second I thought that it may have been me screaming as some sort of autonomic response to the movie, seeing as how we’re ten minutes into this film and it’s been less exciting than a tax-preparers convention. Alas, since the scream is from a female, that precludes me. No, it appears that outside, Mrs. Kilgore is being run down by one of the natives. I guess they don’t take too kindly to blondes who spy on their death/dance parties.

“If she won’t wake up, slap her again. Here, let me do it.”Arnold, Clark and Eddie all now run outside, the former grabbing a pistol on his way out the door. Seeing what appears to be a newly formed chapter of the NRA (three white dudes, two with guns), is enough to send Mrs. Kilgore’s pursuer scrambling through the trees in the direction he came. Native lives matter! Arnold and Eddie give chase briefly, but return to Clark, who is examining an unconscious Mrs. Kilgore. WTF? When did she pass out? I didn’t see the native hit her on the head, but here she is asleep. Was all the commotion too much for her, so she fainted? Or did the klutz just trip and hit her head on a stump? Who knows? So the three men get Mrs. Kilgore back inside their big building. They lay her out on a cot and Arnold goes about trying to revive her. Given how annoying she is and sounds, I’d think they’d be glad that she wasn’t flappin’ her lips.

Back where the natives were hoopin’ and hollerin’ it up, things have taken a more solemn turn. Kimo’s body is loaded into that upright coffin and the funeral procession gets underway.

We return to the American building/base/clinic/lab/whatever to find that Mrs. Kilgore has awoken and is blabbering on about how she witnessed the natives killing Kimo. Please note that Mrs. Kilgore is NOT an American and speaks with what I can only describe as a Cockney accent (but i'm no expert in regional accents). Horrified by what she witnessed, she professes her belief that the natives are all cannibals and heathens and that someone should just drop a hydrogen bomb on the entire lot. Well, she might not sound American, but her way of thinking reminds me of several overbearing intolerant asswipes that I happen to know. Ya gotta love that line of reasoning. Don’t like something? Bomb it into oblivion. It sounds like she has more in common with terrorists than with anyone on this side of the pond.

We cut away again to the natives, who are lowering Kimo’s coffin into the ground. Since his coffin is upright, they bury it the same way – vertically. Tano mumbles some local hocus pocus BS that almost sounded Latin and then the coffin is buried.

We jump back to the Americans. Geez, who edited this movie? Can we please stick with one scene for longer than a few seconds? Arnold explains to Kilgore that the reason the natives were angry with her is because she walked through their cemetery during a burial ceremony. Is he shitting me? Burial? Kimo was alive at the beginning! It was only a burial after they killed him! I guess in some cultures, the person being buried is murdered just moments before being put into the ground.

So Kilgore now bemoans the fact that she has buried two husbands, her demeanor toward Arnold makes it clear that she is in the market for a third. She even asks him if he plans on examining her more thoroughly after her recent run in with the locals. He politely tells her that she is in perfect health and is more frightened than injured. That is manspeak for “get away from me, you revolting woman.”

Kilgore announces her plans to move to Australia and open up a tea shop once she sells her trading post, which she and one of her deceased husbands opened in order to trade goods with the natives. Lemme guess…they give her things like straw mats, floral-print dresses and T-shirts, carved wooden Tiki idols (watch out Bradys!), shell jewelry and coconut soap; and in return, she provides classic western products like alcohol, cigarettes, greasy snack foods, hyper tension and a healthy dose of self-loathing. As she says this, she helps herself to Clark’s bottle of booze.

Kilgore mentions the recently murdered Kimo and Arnold and Clark bemoan his loss, as he was their only link to the natives. With him dead, they may not be able to stop the mysterious plague that is wiping out the islanders. Clark decides that he will mention their need of more help in his next report to Washington.

A completely different chopper now lands on the island. Was there a connecting flight?Helicopter lifts off from ship at sea.Next up is some stock footage of a helicopter lifting off a naval vessel. A completely different helicopter now lands on the island and a blonde woman disembarks. Great, another one. Mrs. Kilgore is bad enough. Arnold and Eddie hop in a jeep and journey from the lab building to the landing field. They pass the spot where Kimo’s coffin was placed in the earth. A close-up of the soil shows it to be moving ever so slightly, as if something buried beneath the surface was beginning to stir. Gophers, perhaps?

Having dropped off the blonde woman, the helicopter pilot now lifts off and presumably heads back to that ship at sea. Eddie and Arnold arrive, the latter enthusiastically greeting the blonde with an embrace and a kiss to each cheek (not THOSE cheeks). This must be the co-worker Arnold has been pining away for and who doesn’t see him in the same light. I find this odd, since the dialog now seems to indicate that she - Dr. Terry Mason – has only now been dispatched to this island to combat the plague. Earlier, I got the impression that she was already stationed here, but I guess I was wrong. I must conclude that the two have been working in the general region and are quite familiar with one another, but this is her first time on this particular island. Arnold is worried for her safety, given the recent hostility from the natives, but she insists that she is not going to start dodging assignments. All three hop in the jeep and head to the lab. Another shot of Kimo’s grave shows the soil moving again as the jeep passes.

At the lab, Terry now has the misfortune to meet Mrs. Kilgore, who remarks on her dress and then sniffs her, commenting on her perfume. The two seem to hit it off and Kilgore says that she will take Terry to her quarters, adding that she has procured a native girl to help Terry. When Terry asks how this was allowed, since it was her understanding that the islanders were hostile to the Americans, Kilgore and Arnold explain that this girl’s mother was a native, but her father was Dutch. After her parents died she was raised by a missionary and is now considered an outcast by the natives and is thus not bound by tribal law.

Kilgore and Eddie take Terry to her room, which seems to be attached to the side of the lab. The native girl, Orchid, is there getting things ready. Kilgore and Eddie then leave. Terry decides to take a shower and while doing so, talks with Orchid, who dreams of earning money and travelling to another island. The shower seems to be one of those communal things set up in the small courtyard outside. I’m really not sure I’d want to shower out there, with all the tropical bugs and what not creeping around. Arnold stops by briefly so he can show Terry around the lab. She promises to be over just as soon as she is dressed. I bet he only came by because he was hoping to get a quick look at her boobs.

Sometime later, a native couple approaches the lab and enters. The man is Norgu, who was Kimo’s best friend and still thinks of the Americans as friends. His wife is Dori, who shows evidence of the plague on her face. They have come to the Americans for help, believing (rightly so) that Tano cannot do anything to heal her. Clark impresses upon Norgu the need for the islanders to come to them for help with the plague and not Tano, but he tells them that many do not trust them after the old chief’s death. Arnold says that it was Tano that gave the old chief the poison that killed him. Norgu confirms that Kimo said the same thing before he was killed.

Terry, now dressed, stops by the lab. Arnold invites her to examine Dori. Arnold wants her opinion on Dori’s skin. Citing her specialty in dermatology, Arnold asks Terry what she suggests they do. She says to try something called Formula X37. That doesn’t sound too good. Seriously, any kind of formula, concoction or recipe with the letter X in its name cannot be good for you. They invite Norgu and Dori to return the next day to begin the treatment.

After a fade out and a fade in, we head on over to the native village. Kimo’s widow, Korey is trying to snuggle up with new chief Maranka, but he just shrugs her off. She says that it was for him that she played her part in Kimo’s death, but since then, Maranka’s love has grown cold. He flatly tells her that he could never have a traitor like her as his wife and tells her to leave. She notes the poison darts he is making and reveals that he knows he intends to use them to kill the Americans. She accuses him of casting her aside for some other broad named Naomi and claims to have seen Maranka coming from Naomi’s hut many times.

Speak of the devil and he…er…she will appear. Who should walk up about now? Yup, this Naomi woman, who has picked poison berries for Maranka’s blow darts. Before Maranka and Naomi head into his hut “You two are getting carried away with this Luau themed dinner party.”to finish work on the poison darts - and no doubt begin work on some kinky monkey sex (which frighteningly enough on this island, could involve actual monkeys) – he tells Korey that the darts could be for her as easily as for the Americans. Hurt, Korey saunters off. Fade out.

Fade in. Dr. William Arnold and Dr. Terry Mason are strolling through the trees, dressed in their Sunday best. Okay…hold the phone. I cannot go an instant more without addressing something. Ever since Terry joined the movie and I learned her name, it reminds me of Perry Mason, who of course was the title character played by the late Raymond Burr on the television series that ran for nine seasons from 1957 (the year this movie was released) to 1966. Being reminded of that show is in of itself, not so bad. Alas, I am mostly reminded of the song Perry Mason, by Ozzy Osbourne from his 1995 Ozzmosis album. Every time Terry is on screen, I hear a version of Ozzy’s song in my head:

Who can we get on the case?
We need Terry Mason.
Someone to put you in place.
Calling Terry Mason…again.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah…Arnold and Terry are out for an afternoon stroll in the jungle, which looks nothing like a jungle. It looks more like forested areas near where I live than any place in the southern hemisphere. Arnold does his best to lay on the charm, but when he goes in for a kiss, Terry turns and walks away. Ouch! Shot down in flames. She strolls over to a fallen tree that sits near a pond. Again, I am struck by how non-tropical this place looks. I’m afraid the few strategically placed prop plants and the jungle sounds audio track lifted from some old Tarzan movie are not adequate enough to convince me that this is the south pacific.

Now seated, Arnold asks her why she is so stubborn and won’t admit to loving him. He suggests they get married and head back to the states to live like “normal people.” Uh…yeah. Normal people have screaming kids, a mountain of debt and annoying jobs. I’ll take the pseudo tropics any day over that. Terry tells him that she is not his girl…or anyone’s girl for that matter. He asks her what she wants in life and then manages to get close enough to attack her. He smashes his lips to hers, cutting off her oxygen supply and then squeezes the shit out of her, clearly making it difficult for her to breath. Wait…that wasn’t an attack? You mean that was supposed to be his idea of a passionate kiss? Yikes! I’d hate to see his idea of foreplay. It might involve bruises and welts.

He again tries to get her to admit that she loves him, but she refuses. He wants her to let go of her reason and embrace her emotions. She claims that she cannot, because she lives her life guided by her reason and intellect. As she says this, she glances over and spies the natives’ cemetery. There, a stick planted in the ground with a skull on top falls over.

Oh, yeah, that’s right…this is a monster movie. I had nearly forgotten about that, with all the annoying cockney women, lame romance subplots and ridiculous white people acting like Polynesians. Hopefully that monster will be appearing soon to start snapping necks, cracking skulls and getting things moving in this movie.

Don’t hold your breath.

Despite it being taboo for outsiders to stomp around the native cemetery, that is exactly what Arnold and Terry now do. There they find an odd looking stump that seems to be emerging from the ground near Kimo’s grave. Arnold says that they will have to get Professor Clark to come look at it, as he is an expert on jungle trees and plants. I guess he's branched out into other fields of study.

The next thing we know, Arnold, Terry and Clark are back at the lab and are looking at a sketch of the stump in question. Terry wonders if it could be growing out of Kimo’s burial coffin, while Clark thinks it may just be a malformed bush.

The door opens and in comes Norgu and his wife Dori. So this must be the next day when they have returned to begin the treatment of Formula X37. Norgu looks at the sketch and is visibly shaken. He tells them that Kimo’s promise to return from the grave has come true. How does he know the sketch is supposed to be Kimo’s grave? It could have been a sketch of any random plant, tree or stump, but here he is, certain it is proof of Kimo’s imminent return from the dead. He says that he has heard stories in the past from his grandfather, who was once the tribe’s storyteller. He relates a story about a great chief who was murdered by his enemies and then buried with seeds. The chief came back to life as a tree monster. Well, it’s a good thing he wasn’t buried with a bottle of laxatives, then!

Norgu adds how the tree monster was torn loose from the ground by a bolt of lightning and then went stomping around the island, murdering people. The monster was called…Tabanga (cue ominous music when this name is spoken aloud), a creature of revenge. When asked what happened to this monster, Norgu says that it just disappeared one day and never came back, which is something I think a lot of people want Justin Beiber to do. Some islanders say the Tabanga walked into the quicksand that lies at the edge of the forest, but no one ever knew for sure what happened to it. Given its stiff and wooden demeanor, I’d say it went on to invent the internet and then served as vice president of the United States for eight years.

I’d like to add that at this point in the film, give or take a few seconds, we are at the exact halfway mark…and there is still no monster to be seen. Mrs. Kilgore doesn’t count.

The door opens and Orchid walks in. She informs the group that she just returned from Mrs. Kilgore’s place via the cemetery. There she saw a strange growth emerging from the ground near Kimo’s grave. It had a ceremonial dagger stuck in it and was dripping some weird shit that looked like green blood. Norgu takes this as further proof that Kimo has returned from the dead. However, I take it as further proof that this movie has been one big tease so far. Tree monster? What tree monster? I don’t see no stinking tree monster. Hearing this, Professor Clark says that since there is obviously something there, they had all better go investigate.

“I have no idea what it is. I’m stumped! HA!”So the next thing we know, Clark, Arnold, Terry and Norgu are out at the cemetery, examining the stump, which has gotten larger. It now stands two and a half to three feet tall and you can clearly make out what is supposed to be a face on the thing, though the eyes appear to be closed. Where the chest would be are two anomalies: the first being a blade protruding from the thick bark. It’s the same knife used to kill Kimo and it is located in the same spot where it was pushed into his heart. Right above that is the second weird thing: a small section of bark that seems to pulsate, like a heartbeat. Indeed, Terry gives it a listen with her stethoscope and says that it is a human heartbeat.

Clark tries to take a sample of the green ooze, but finds that it is very radioactive. Norgu claims that the Tabanga will soon uproot itself from the ground and that they need to destroy it before then, perhaps by throwing it into the quicksand mentioned earlier. Clark thinks little of Norgu’s belief, considering them nothing more than silly superstition, but Terry says that she has the strange feeling that the Tabanga knows exactly what they are saying.

Later, we see Clark, Arnold and Terry return to the lab, where Eddie has a reply from Washington in regards to the Tabanga. Funny, I never saw anyone report to Washington on the Tabanga in the first place. Whatever. So whoever is in Washington tells the gang that they need to remove the “growth” from the ground and study it in the lab. This is easier said than done, especially since the natives are sure to oppose the action. Arnold, worried about Terry, is in favor of throwing the Tabanga in the quicksand like Norgu suggested, but the others outvote him. Plans are made to remove the Tabanga from the soil at night.

Over at the natives’ village, Tano and Chief Maranka are meeting secretly in the Chief’s hut. The Chief is mad at Norgu for disobeying the command to avoid the Americans. Maranka wants him dead, but Tano advises caution, as Norgu has many friends in the tribe. Besides, Tano claims to have a grand idea. He’s whipped up some concoction he calls “medicine” and plans to soak it into the soil at the base of the new Tabanga. This will make the monster his servant and it will kill who he tells it to kill. First on that squish list is Norgu. Maranka likes this idea and reminds him that Kimo’s widow, Korey, must also die.

That’s bad news for Korey, especially since she is about three feet away, outside, and eavesdropping on their conversation. Korey doesn’t waste any time and goes straight to the Americans, where Norgu just happens to be as well. She tells them all about Tano’s and Maranka’s plans. She admits to her own part in Kimo’s death and asks to stay there. Norgu believes she is telling the truth now, so Clark allows Korey to stay with the servant girl Orchid. He also advises Norgu to bring his wife Dori to stay as well. He adds that the monster must be uprooted and moved that very night.

Night has fallen and the gang of Clark, Arnold, Eddie and Terry return to the cemetery to dig up the Tabanga. The monster is now considerably taller than the last time we saw it. It is now close to seven or eight feet tall and has a definite humanoid shape. I suppose they ran into no problems uprooting it, as the next thing we see is the Tabanga laid out on a table in the lab. Terry claims that while moving it, Arnold accidentally brushed up against the knife embedded in its chest and she swore she saw the Tabanga move as if in pain.

As she examines it, the creature’s heartbeat begins to slow. Terry claims it will stop soon. Arnold is of the “hey, we tried” mindset and it’s clear he doesn’t care if it dies. He brings up the quicksand solution once again. However, Terry is trying to come up with a way to save the Tabanga’s life and lays into Arnold for worrying about her too much. After another smartass comment from him about shipping the Tabanga to their superiors, she retrieves something from a nearby refrigerator. It’s Formula 447! She claims it has worked well in restarting heart functions in primates, but is still years away from tests on humans. She wants to try it on the Tabanga, though it is slow working and may takes hours to achieve any results. The others agree and Arnold even helps her hook up an IV drip. Fade out.

Fade in. After hooking up the IV and letting nearly the entire bottle of Formula 447 pass through the drip line, there is no change to the Tabanga’s heart rate. Terry says it may take up to eight hours for anything to happen, so suggests they all get some sleep and meet back in the lab at six AM the next day. The men grouse at the idea of getting up at such an ungodly hour. They all file out the door and we see a clock on the wall that reads 10 PM.

Those Beta Pi Delta’s are real party animals.5:48 AM comes and we see that the lab is a total mess. Tables are overturned, there is broken glass, half the stuff looks to be broken, the door has been ripped from its hinges and there is even a monkey loose. It resembles your average fraternity house on Saturday mornings. It needs some serious sprucing up. Needless to say, the Tabanga is nowhere to be seen.

Somewhere out in the trees (I refuse to call this deciduous forest a jungle), the Tabanga is stomping along, footloose and fancy free at long last. It only took forty-seven minutes for this movie to get its monster into gear! Please note that the Tabanga ambulates along at a gait that can only be described as slow and ponderous. We can assume the limitations of the costume made it hard for the suit actor to move very well. In terms of the movie, we can assume because the creature is made of stiff wood, it cannot move very well.

Clark, Arnold and Terry enter the lab and see the mess. Arnold and Terry believe the Tabanga caused the mess, but Professor Clark thinks it was the natives who broke in, stole the Tabanga and then wrecked the place. Whoever did it, why did none of these clowns hear the commotion? Their rooms are not that far away. You’d think someone would have heard something, but I guess they were all snoring so damn loud, they couldn’t be awoken for anything – and we all know that Arnold and Terry were sleeping in separate beds. She didn’t even want to kiss him earlier, so there’s no way she was riding him reverse cowgirl style at any time during the night (not that I wouldn’t mind…er…never mind) and was too busy to hear anything.

Eddie comes in about now to see the mess. Arnold is of the opinion that the Tabanga is for real and that they might need help in managing it. He wants Eddie to radio for help. Too bad the radio has been reduced to scrap, preventing them from contacting anyone off the island. Yep, they’re screwed.

Elsewhere, Naomi (Chief Maranka’s new squeeze) is taking a morning dip in a pond, which of course requires her to strip down naked. Don’t get all excited. This was an American film from 1957, so you are not going to be seeing any boobies. While Naomi is getting dressed in the bushes, Korey comes along and sees her. She grabs her knife and begins to follow Naomi as she walks through the trees. One must assume that she intends to hurt and/or kill the woman who in her mind, stole the chief away from her. She finally catches up and confronts Naomi at the quicksand pits near the edge of the trees that have been mentioned so many times in this movie but never seen until now.

“You’ve stolen my man, now you must die,” Korey proclaims and then attacks Naomi. One of the absolute lamest fights ever put to screen now occurs. The stunt doubles are obvious in several shots. I'm not even sure who I am really rooting for! As the two brawl, the Tabanga approaches and watches from the trees, looking quite board. At one point Korey drops her knife. As she goes to retrieve it, Naomi takes off running. Korey grabs her blade and chases after her, catching her near a tree. She swings her knife at Naomi, who dodges out of the way, allowing Korey to plunge her knife into the closest tree. As she struggles to pull it out, Naomi grabs a fallen branch and whacks Korey on the back of the head. Korey turns and collapses…right into the arms of the Tabanga, who has appeared from behind the tree.

Naomi turns and runs away. Korey begins to come to and when she sees who is holding her, she screams and faints into unconsciousness again. The Tabanga carries her over to the quicksand and drops her in. She awakens just as she hits the muck. At this point, she actually pushes herself further out into the pool, probably because the spot where she was dropped was so close to the edge, no one would believe that she could not pull herself to safety. She screams for help, but no one is coming. As the Tabanga watches in cold silence, she sinks to her death. Then the creature turns and stomps away.

At the tribe’s village, Naomi comes running in and says that she just saw the Tabanga. “How do you know it was the Tabanga?” Chief Maranka the idiot asks. Yeah, cuz it’ so easy to confuse the wide variety of ambulating plant life on that island. “Because it looked like a tree,” She replies. Tano now approaches and questions Naomi. He takes her to the cemetery to confirm if the Tabanga is now on the loose. Sure enough, no Tabanga. Tano believes (rightly so) that the Americans cut the creature loose from the ground. The American’s must die, he says, but first the tribe needs to deal with the Tabanga. He wants Naomi to take him to where she saw it. She does so and they find Korey’s knife still in the tree. They also find a scrap of cloth near the quicksand and surmise that the Tabanga has done away with his former wife.

Tree hugging proved dangerous when the trees hugged back.Outside his hut, Chief Maranka the idiot is sharpening his spear. Who should come meandering along about now? The Tabanga! Showing how little awareness he has, Maranka allows the Tabanga to get within about two feet before noticing it. He then turns to face it, backs away a couple feet and brandishes his spear as if he was going to throw it. Throw it he does…right over the Tabanga’s head. The spear lands about twenty feet away, having come nowhere near its target. One must assume that Maranka was severely far-sighted and had terrible depth perception. I say was, because at this point the Tabanga grabs him and gives him the squish treatment. The poor sap. Maranka falls over dead and the Tabanga lumbers off through the trees.

Tano and Naomi return to find the villagers in an uproar over Maranka’s demise. They want to know why Tano failed to kill the Tabanga with his medicine. He blames it on the Americans (doesn’t everybody?) who released the creature from the ground. Tano rallies everyone so they can hunt down and kill the monster.

The servant girl Orchid hears all this and quickly runs to the Americans’ lab to tell them the news. Terry is thrilled to hear that the Tabanga is alive, that is, until she learns that it has already killed two people. It just so happens that the two killed were ones that Kimo vowed to avenge himself on. The Americans agree that something must be done, but they also know that with these deaths and with Tano stirring up anger and hatred against them in the islanders; stopping the monster before it kills again will be difficult.

Speaking of the islanders, Tano has a large group of men preparing a trap for the Tabanga. They’ve dug a pit and camouflaged it with loose brush. Seeing as two out of the three people Kimo promised to kill are now dead, Tano knows he is next on the Tabanga’s shit list. He will use himself as bait to lure the monster to the trap. Everyone takes their position and waits.

After some time has gone by, the Tabanga is sighted growing closer. It approaches Tano, who backs away, leading toward the covered pit. He steps around it, but the Tabanga steps right onto the cover and falls in. The others now come running and then throw torches into the pit, no doubt hoping to burn the Tabanga to a crisp. With the fire burning strong, they all leave. Is that really the wisest course of action to take right now? Wouldn’t they want to stick around and make sure the monster actually dies? You know, throw some more torches in the pit if the fire gets too low? I guess they are confident that their trap will do away with their monster problem. However, once the fire has gone out, we see the Tabanga climbing out of the pit.

Two natives encounter the Tabanga as they are walking down a dirt road. They see the monster coming from the other direction and run away like frightened rabbits. They haul ass straight to the American lab, where they appeal to the white folks for help in killing the Tabanga.

A quick cutaway scene shows Tano encountering the monster as he walks along that same dirt road.

Speaking of monsters, Mrs. Kilgore now appears at the American lab, blabbering on and on about the natives and what she heard them say about the monster that is on the loose. Clark suggests that she and Terry stay there while the men go hunt down the Tabanga, but both women insist on coming along and being issued a firearm as well. Now with all five of them packing heat, they head out to find their wooden friend.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

“Can you come tell your buddy here to quit passing out in the middle of the road?”The Tabanga is chasing Tano, who like some sort of manbitch, manages to trip backwards over a fallen log and nearly render himself unconscious when his head hits a conveniently placed rock. As he lies there, trying to recover, the Tabanga comes over to him and we see the monster bending over and reaching down. We also hear Tano let loose with a horrible scream...the kind men make when having their balls waxed. What exactly is happening is a mystery. Is the Tabanga reaching down to strangle him? Did he plant one of his oversized tree feet on Tano, thereby squishing him? What?

We see Clark, Arnold, Eddie, Terry, Kilgore and the two natives walking through the trees and then return to the Tabanga, who is now carrying Tano like he was a sack of potatoes. The monster walks to the edge of a hilltop and lets him go. Tano tumbles down the slope to land in a heap at the bottom. We see what looks like a blade or other long, sharp object piercing his back. I don’t know if he got impaled just now while falling or if the Tabanga stuck him with a branch earlier. Either way, it seems Tano is now dead, too.

So, with the three people dead who he promised to avenge himself on, Kimo aka the Tabanga should now wander off back to the land of the dead right? Wrong. When has death ever stopped anyone from being interested in the one thing all straight males are highly interested in? We turn out attention back to the others, who are making their way through the trees, Mrs. Kilgore rattling her trap the entire way. She won’t shut up for a damn minute. I got the impression that had things continued that way; the men would have either chosen to use their guns on her, or put them to their own heads. Anything for some peace and quiet. Anyway, as they walk along, Terry stops to pull a rock from her shoe. The others walk on (and in the case of Mrs. Kilgore, talk on) without noticing that she stopped. Of course, right when she is ready to get going again, POW! There’s the Tabanga, appearing out of nowhere to grab her. What's really funny is that we get a close-up of the Tabanga's face and just before it grabs her, its eyebrows raise and then lower, as if it was looking into the camera and going hubba hubba. Terry lets loose with a few screams and then faints.

The others, hearing her screams, come running. They find her discarded shoe, but no sign of her or her obvious abductor, the Tabanga. They hear another cry and follow it through the trees. I’ve got to say, her screams are terrible. Apparently the actress wasn’t capable of wailing like so many famous scream queens, because her vocalizations sound more like a woman on the toilet, trying pinch off a colossal turd when a snake slithers over her feet. Anyway, Terry is awake again and struggling to free herself from the monster’s grip. The others catch up and Eddie, who is the best shot, takes aim at the beast. Arnold advises aiming for the knife in the creature’s chest, theorizing that if a bullet hits it, it will drive it through the monster’s heart.

The Tabanga is carrying the screaming, struggling Terry closer to the quicksand pits. Is it going to drop her in there, too? Why? Does it suddenly hate all women or all Americans? With its back to the others, Eddie can’t line up a decent shot at the knife, so he fires a few into its back, hoping to get it to turn around. Finally, after numerous shots, the Tabanga drops Terry, who hurriedly crawls away.

The Tabanga now turns to confront the other Americans. They all start firing like mad, aiming for the knife in the creature’s chest and once again instilling in the rest of the world the idea that we’re all a bunch of gun-crazed madmen. Eventually, Arnold hits the knife, which is pushed deep into the Tabanga’s chest, killing it. The creature falls backwards into the quicksand and gradually sinks from view.

Even tree monsters enjoy soaking in the Jacuzzi after a long day of stomping on villagers.Talk about getting the short end of the stick.Terry and Arnold run to embrace one another. She’s holding on to him for dear life. Maybe she’s changed her mind about marrying him after all.

The natives are glad that the American “magic” has saved them from the Tabanga. They ask Professor Clark if he will be their new witch doctor. Clark says maybe for a little while, until enough of the natives can be taught about American medicine. The natives run off, no doubt to spread the good news.

Seeing Arnold and Terry smooching a short ways away, Clark states that it will be “marriage and back to the states for them.” As Clark walks out of frame, Mrs. Kilgore realizes that she never asked him if he was married. Ugh. That poor man. If he thought dealing with the Tabanga was bad enough, wait until he has to fend off the advances of Mrs. Kilgore!

Fade out. The End.

Review

I am an unapologetic fan of monster movies from the 1950’s. I grew up watching them in the 70’s when they aired on Saturday afternoon or late night horror shows and such memories are recalled with nostalgia and a longing for such simpler times. By the time I was a teenager in the 80’s, I had seen almost all of the notable monster flicks from the 50’s, with few having escaped my notice. From Hell It Came was one that I never saw until many years later as an adult. Part of me wishes that I had been able to see it during my youth, as I would have highly enjoyed the sight of Tabanga trudging along through the woods. I would no doubt have remembered the film with more fondness and thought of it as a true “classic.” Seeing it for the first time as an adult has robbed me of any such delusions. From Hell It Came is not a great film. It’s not even a good film, but it is a decent monster film…and for us monster lovers, that may be enough.

Even tree monsters enjoy soaking in the Jacuzzi after a long day of stomping on villagers.The storyline here is pretty straightforward. A man is wrongly put to death and vows to return from the grave to seek revenge, which he manages to do. The particulars here are what help set this film apart. The location is a south pacific island rather than modern America and the man is an islander with a belief system rooted (pun not intended that time) in the supernatural. Despite this, rather than anything otherworldly enabling his return, it is the by-product of modern science that causes this resurrection. On hand are a small group of westerners who are trying to help the locals with their “superior” knowledge and medicine and the lot of them have to confront the monstrous threat, unable to leave the island or call for help of any kind. This utilizes the common plot element of having a small group of people trapped in an isolated location with a rampaging beast, which in turn gives the threat more immediacy. One may never know when the Tabanga will come lurching out of the trees to grab someone.

Despite the location and set-up for the story, involving the aforementioned primitive south pacific island tribe and their beliefs that we “learned” people in the western world would classify as superstitious, it is once again the buzzword of the 50’s – radiation – that is the culprit here. The character of Kimo may vow to return from the grave to seek revenge, but without the mutating power of the radioactive fallout, he would have stayed rotting in his funky coffin. At this point, the radiation McGuffin only had a couple of years left in it and by decade’s end, we were no longer threatened on a regular basis by creatures enlarged or mutated by its dangerous influence. The idea of radiation causing such things is absolutely ludicrous in hindsight, but I suppose back then it seemed much more plausible.

Any movie lives and/or dies by its characters and a good monster flick will having engaging humans to keep one interested when the creature in question is not rampaging across the screen. I’m sorry to say that none of the humans in this movie made me care one way or the other whether they lived or died. Let’s start with the westerners. First up is Professor Clark, who spends most of the movie looking bored as hell. He seems to drink a lot and doesn’t seem very animated even when the Tabanga is on the loose. I get the impression that he has no other life waiting for him back in the states and he just wants to stay hidden away on this island under the guise of helping the natives, only so he can drink himself to death in peace. The nominal guy in charge, he doesn’t seem overly invested in anything that is going on around him and spends nearly the entire movie with one emotional state: indifference. At times I didn’t know who was more wooden, him or the Tabanga.

Then we have Doctor William Arnold, who the movie makes abundantly clear, wants to leave the island and go home…preferably with fellow doctor Terry Mason as his bride. Arnold doesn’t seem too invested in their work on the island, either. However, in his case it seems that this is because he just wants to leave it all behind him and move on. In his mind, he is already packed and on a ship back to the states. His concern for Terry’s safety may initially seem to come from a sense of love, but to me, I got the impression that she represented a life away from the island that he was pinning all his hopes on, and if Even tree monsters enjoy soaking in the Jacuzzi after a long day of stomping on villagers.anything happened to her, his future was going to go bye bye with her. He gets exasperated when she wants to stay and this is about the only time he shows any emotion. Most of the time he comes across as a little bit creepy with the way he looks at Terry and talks to her, as if in his mind he is already undressing her and imagining her on all fours.

Speaking of Terry Mason, in her we have what I deem to be the Frankenstein character. Not in terms of the famous monster, but in relation to the good doctor himself. Like him, Terry is so blinded by the opportunity to learn and create something new that she unknowingly unleashes a killer upon an unsuspecting population. It is her knowledge and expertise that allows the Tabanga to come fully to life and go on a rampage and in an ironic twist; it is she that the monster abducts after it has killed the three natives at the top of its shit list. What it planned to do with her is never known. Was it going to kill her? Or did it have more amorous intentions in mind? We’ll never know. What we do know is that her brief encounter with the Tabanga seems to transform her completely. Whereas before she was a strong, confident and professional woman who made it clear that was intellect rather than emotion that she used to guide her life; afterwards she is reduced to a quivering, weak, emotional wreck that needs the support of a man in order to endure. One could argue that her brush with death made it more obvious to her that she needed to embrace life and this was why she was so ready to throw herself into Dr. Arnold’s arms (and presumably at some later point, his bed), but to me it just felt like she had been painted as too strong of a character to make such a complete 180. It’s almost as if someone was trying to subtly convey the idea that despite what a woman accomplishes, she will always need a man to save her.

Rounding out the westerners we have Eddie and Mrs. Kilgore. Eddie is hardly in the movie at all and only exists to have another person to help do things. Kilgore on the other hand is the obvious comic relief character and as is usual with such people, is far more annoying than funny. The actress was American, so the decision to give the character a funky English working class accent is perplexing. This is especially true when it is implied that the character hails from Australia! The film claims that she runs a trading post on the island, but we never see this establishment. What we do know is that Kilgore has been widowed twice and is obviously on the lookout for potential husband number three. It seems a lot of her comments are about the men around her and their marital status. Thankfully, she is not in the film too much and can be safely ignored through sheer willpower or through liberal amounts of booze.

Now we come to the native characters, who sadly, suffer from some pretty bad stereotypes. The lot of them are shown to be primitive, superstitious and often quite violent. Both Tano and Maranka are depicted as opportunistic, power hungry fools who will do whatever it takes to consolidate their hold on the tribe. Even when the proverbial shit hits the fan, neither seems inclined to budge from their positions. It might be a good thing for their people that the Tabanga killed them.

Korey is a scheming, selfish woman who would fit right in with any of the Bravo network’s Real Housewives series. She betrays her husband, and then when she herself is betrayed, she wants to blame others for her fall from grace. Her demise is her own doing and most will agree that she had it coming. In Kimo we have the tragic figure that is wrongly accused and killed, solely to help cement the others’ quest for power. One can rightly understand his vow to seek revenge from beyond the grave and when he returns, stomping around as the Tabanga and taking out those who wronged him, we feel that justice has been served. However, why does he then continue to rampage around the island? Is his mind still that of Kimo, or has the monster that he’s become completely taken over by this point? It would have been cool to see the monster show some indication that he retained something of his former life.

Everybody else is pretty much just glorified set dressing. The real bad part is how many white folks were recruited to play south pacific islanders. It was almost as bad as all those old bible films where a virtual cadre of Caucasians were playing Arab characters. The only thing worse in all the annals of film history was John Wayne as Genghis Khan…or maybe Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. It’s a toss-up.

Finally we come to the Tabanga itself. As I said, it would have been cool to see some trace of Kimo left in it. Maybe see it struggle to retain any semblance of humanity as it carried out its mission of revenge. But that would have to be in an alternate reality’s version of the film. Here all we get is the monster stomping around dispassionately murdering a few islanders. Once the Tabanga is loose, it is pure monster, fueled by hatred and there is nothing about it that can be redeemed. As for the monster suit itself, it was fabricated by the Don Post Studios of Hollywood, but most people agree it was based on a design by legendary creature designer Paul Blaisdell, who was renown for making cheap monsters for Roger Corman films. Blaisdell’s original design is intriguing, but the end result we get is rather silly looking. Yes, it is a tree, but the suit is too stiff in parts where it should be more pliable and too bendy in places where you’d expect rigidity. Plus, for some reason, the suit was made so that the mouth opened and closed as the creature stumbled across the landscape, which only makes it appear as if the Tabanga is mumbling to itself as it plods along. Overall, not the best monster suit, but by no means the worst from the era. For those who recall the movie with fondness, I’m sure it is remembered well. Even as someone who first aw the film as an adult, I happen to like the look of the monster.

Even tree monsters enjoy soaking in the Jacuzzi after a long day of stomping on villagers.Even tree monsters enjoy soaking in the Jacuzzi after a long day of stomping on villagers.As for how the story is presented on screen, this is where I have some problem with the film. In essence, it just takes too damn long for the monster to make its appearance and even longer before it goes on a killing rampage. We watch these movies because we want to see monsters and while setup and exposition is necessary, sometimes a movie just goes overboard on trying to set things up and takes too long to loosen its monster. That being said, it may just be my personal experience with the film that causes me to think that, as I can think o many other films from the same time period that were slow moving or didn’t get to their monsters until after the halfway point, yet are still remembered with much fondness.

One issue the film raises in my mind and which it fails to adequately explain is the true source of the Tabanga. Throughout the movie there is a subtle undercurrent of science versus superstition, with the Americans and their superior scientific knowledge painted as mostly benign and superior to the primitive superstitious beliefs of the natives. The movie seems to imply that it is the radioactive fallout that has given life to the Tabanga or at the very least, caused Kimo’s body to mutate, transmogrifying from two separate components – dead body and wooden coffin – into a single living tree man. However, the natives have a legend about a similar tree monster that roamed the island in some indeterminable past. Since a Tabanga had appeared before, was it magic that gave it life or the sheer will power of the person who was wrongly killed? There could not have been radiation in that earlier example since it had to have predated the testing of atomic bombs. Was it the same in Kimo’s case? Did he return as a Tabanga through magic and/or sheer will power, or did the radiation really contribute to this after all? I wish the movie had been clearer on this issue.

In the final summation, From Hell It Came is a movie that tries hard to be a neat monster movie, but just cannot rise to the same level as other efforts from the 50’s. The human characters seem dull and/or cliché, the monster is silly-looking and takes too long to arrive on the scene and its rampage is less than exciting. Still, for those who love 50’s monster flicks or those who recall this film from their youth with fondness, there is still a fun time to be had.

 

Expect To See:
Comic Relief – Ugh. This icon is here because of Mrs. Kilgore. She adds NOTHING to the movie and thankfully has only a few brief scenes, but it’s obvious that in those scant few minutes, she was meant to funny. Kind of like how a rash on your ass is just hilarious.
Jungle Hijinks – Well, this film takes place on a South Pacific island and quite a bit of the action takes place outdoors in what is supposed to be a jungle, but it’s obvious the film was shot in southern California by the look of those very non-tropical trees.
Killer Plants – The monster is in essence a walking tree, even if it did start out as a wood coffin with a dead guy inside, so this icon is warranted. Other than that, the only deadly plants involved are whatever the filmmakers were smoking at the time.
Monsters – One eight foot tall walking tree named Tabanga, who is out for revenge. Since this icon actually features the monster from this film, it would be impossible to write this review and not use this icon.
Science – Not much, but in between the talk of radiation and dermal maladies, the scientists use some made-up stuff called Formula 447 to kick start the Tabanga’s heart. It makes me wonder if 446 deaths were actually required to perfect that stuff.
Skin – There isn’t much of this, but almost all of the natives prance around in revealing clothes. In the men’s case, it shows off their rather unfit physiques. In the women’s case, it highlights their ample curves.
Stock Footage – Not much, but there is a stock footage ship and helicopter that make a brief appearance, as well as an opening shot of a tropical beach just to help set the mood.
Violence – It’s hard to have a movie about vengeance killings without violence. However, the violence here is not graphic by any means and some of it is not even depicted on film. Modern wrestling matches are worse and a hockey game is like Thunderdome in comparison.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 4
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 4
Cups of coffee consumed: 4
Smokes: 2
Use of the word “Bloomin” by Mrs. Kilgore: 5
Use of the word “Duckie” by Mrs. Kilgore: 3
Use of the word “damn” by audience: undetermined
Annoying blondes: 1
Annoying brunettes: 3
Number of white people playing Polynesians: Too many
Total gunshots fired: 26
Percentage of movie with actual moving Tabanga: 7.82%

01 Min – This is the only time you will actually see the tropics in this film.
07 Min – This is the most blatant expository dialog scene I have ever witnessed.
16 Min – Stock footage alert!
22 Min – Naked blonde in the shower. Don’t expect to see anything.
29 Min – Denied!
41 Min – Time to call in an arborist.
46 Min – Looks like someone had one hell of a party.
50 Min – Worst. Cat fight. Ever.
55 Min – What was he aiming at? Sheesh, that throw sucked.
60 Min – How about a little fire, eh Scarecro…er…Tabanga?
63 Min – Everyone has a gun! It’s either an NRA meeting or a rap concert.
69 Min – He’s made of wood, why isn’t he floating?


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time the names Kimo and Tabanga are said, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

Here we see a man who will literally
be hen-pecked to death.


While convenient, the Chief’s litter
left a lot to be desired in the
comfort department.


“Hey, where’s my foam?”

 
“Just let me get this booze down,
gentlemen and then I’ll be ready
to take on all three of you.”


Oh, how I wished for a Naval
bombardment throughout this movie.

The Air Up There II: Island Boogaloo

 
Hey! I have one of those!

 
“You mean the wardrobe department
was serious when they said this
was my costume?”


“Looks like he smoked so much
dope, he literally vegetated.”

“I’ve turned the place upside down
and I still can’t find that crate of Cheetos”


Tabanga was very poplar
with the ladies.

“Keep your dogs away from me!”

Horror ensued when the signs for
the pond and the latrine pit
were accidentally switched.

“Professor, when I said I was late,
I didn’t mean for my work shift,
if you get my meaning.”

“Okay, everyone, let’s practice the
skills we’ll need when we
move to America.”


“Quit following me, so make like a
tree and leave.”

An unattended fire? Boy, is
Smokey gonna be pissed.

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a
man with seven wi..WHAT IN
GOD’S NAME IS THAT?

Tree monsters prefer blondes…well
they prefer daffodils, but blondes
will do in a pinch.

The NRA makes known their stance
on regulating lead in ammunition.

 

Immortal Dialog

The subject of the late Kimo comes up.

Kilgore: "I still don’t know why they killed Kimo. Such a nice, polite fellow. Good looking, too."
Clark: “He committed the crime of learning something about modern science. He wanted to help his people.”
Arnold: “For that they killed him.”

Shadow’s Comment: He must have been trying to convince a room full of Republicans of global warming.


Kimo’s last words.

Kimo: “I promise you all, I shall come back from hell and make you pay for your crimes.”

Shadow’s Comment: Considering how all their film careers went after this film, I’d venture to say he made good on his promise.


The Americans discuss the comatose Tabanga.

Arnold: “Look, why keep this…freak of nature alive? Your interest in it is morbid.”
Mason: “Bill, it’s purely scientific and if you weren’t so concerned with your natives and their silly taboos, you’d be helping us, not standing by doing nothing."
Arnold: “I know what…why don’t we psychoanalyze the monster? Maybe its mother was scared by an oak tree.”

Shadow’s Comment: Scared? There are worse things a tree can do to you.

 

Keep In Mind


  • In some cultures, public executions are immediately followed by a dance party.
  • Forbidden graveyards are great places to take a date.
  • When you find yourself in quicksand, purposefully swimming into the deepest part is not a good idea.
  • It is possible to be hugged to death.
  • Defying logic, tree monsters are immune to fire and will not float.
  • Having no training with a firearm whatsoever makes one qualified to carry one in emergency situations.
  • Tree monsters are stealthier than ninjas.
  • Prolonged screaming will make one faint.

 

This Film & Me

As noted many times before, in 1983 my mother bought for me a book entitled The Great book of Movie Monsters. This tome introduced me to many, many films I had never even heard of, let alone seen. One such film was From Hell It Came. As a great enthusiast for monster movies from the 50’s, the movie seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, around this time was when older such films were no longer being aired on TV. So I waited. A few years later I started collecting 50’s monster fare on VHS, but I was never able to find this movie. I briefly toyed with the idea of ordering it on VHS from Sinister Cinema, but for some reason, I never followed through on that idea. Then one day luck was with me. TNT aired From Hell It Came as part of their Monstervision show. I broke out a blank tape and recorded it. Imagine my disappointment when the movie failed to grab my interest. I tried watching the movie a time or two again as the years went by, but it always seemed to move glacially slow. I could never stay interested in the film long enough for the monster to show up. My attention would wander and before I knew it, I was focused on something else and the movie was over. Of course this did not stop me from wanting the film on DVD years later, but alas, all I could find was a DVD-R version sold by the aforementioned Sinister Cinema. Once again, I tried watching the film and again, I got bored with it and my attention wandered. Then a few years back, Warner Brothers released the film as part of their archive collection and I snatched it up…but never watched it. It was not until I sat down to begin work on this review that I watched the film for the Plot section above. This forced me to pay attention to the movie and I made a surprising discovery: the film doesn’t suck near as much as I thought it did. Now, don’t get me wrong, this movie is not one of the better monster movies of the era, but this time around I had much more fun with it. As usual, I watched this move from beginning to end several times for this review (about six times at last count), so I feel safe in saying that I’ve had my fill of this movie and won’t be watching it again anytime soon.

Shadow's rating: Four Tombstones



The Good

  • Cool Paul Blaisdell monster design
  • If you like spooky theremin music, this is your film

The Bad

  • Monster suit doesn't always live up to its potential
  • Tabanga doesn't even show up until last third of movie

The Ugly

  • Too many white folks playing polynesians (or Micronesians)
  • Southern California locations are poor substitute for a tropical island

 

 

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