Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Gardener (a.k.a. Seeds Of Evil) (1975)
The back of the DVD cover states "The Gardener is flowery mix of 70s mod-art film, grindhouse horror and Italian giallo along the lines of horror maestros Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci." What a load of shit that turned out to be.
Ellen and her husband John are a well-off couple living in Costa Rica where Ellen spends her time lounging, and sipping cocktails with her best friend Helena. Ellen hires a mysterious gardener named Carl (frequent Warhol collaborator Joe Dallesandro) to do some gardening work and bring the place some color and life. Soon after, Ellen's cook tries to warn her that Carl is no good and evil. Strange events follow Carl including, being drawn to watch him the early hours of the morning, the sudden illness of the family's previous landscaper, deaths, and flowers blooming to life that are not in season.
Eventually Ellen becomes too obsessed with the goings of Carl and Helena offers to hire him from her. It isn't long before Helena's life is in danger, Ellen is brainwashed and Carl turns into a tree.
Practically nothing of any significance happens in the 87 minutes that THE GARDENER was on the screen. It is mostly spent sitting around watching both female leads talk about one thing or another with the conversation also holding little to no significance. The little bits and pieces of meaningful movie are so plainly stupid that it's just a total chore to sit through.
For James H. Kay this would be his only directing or writing credit and it is no wonder why. He is totally incapable of bringing any life or excitement or any quality that resembles a living, breathing organism to the weak script. To say the acting is wooden is an understatement. The story is weak, but I suppose that is where the "mod-art film" aspect comes in to play. Too bad this film falls far short of art on any level. The grand finale should have left a powerful image in the viewer's mind all it left was a palm in my face.
The artwork for this film was both original and eye-catching. The plot could have been a piece of trippy and cheesy gold. Instead I'm left with a movie I couldn't wait to be over and some neat artwork. A friend of mine saved the DVD of Murder Set Pieces until our summer vacation last year so he could punt it into the Atlantic Ocean because he hated it so much. I might have found something to send to the depths of the Atlantic right alongside of it.