CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: The Revenge of Dr. X (1967)

It’s been said that this movie is based on a 1950s screenplay by Edward D. Wood Jr., but he isn’t credited. He probably should be — this has his weird hands all over it. Even stranger, the first American video release had credits for a completely different movie, the 1969 Filipino film The Mad Doctor of Blood Island.

Also known as Venus Flytrap and Body of the Prey, this movie sat unreleased for 3-4 years, depending on who you ask, before it was unleashed on the moviegoing public. Just look at this amazing VHS box art, which has nothing to do with the actual film.

It’s all about Dr. Bragan, a NASA mathematician. After realizing that if his numbers are off by even the slightest decimal point, he could be sending men to their deaths, he has a nervous breakdown. His assistant suggests he goes to Japan to recuperate.

He’s played by James Craig, who was also in Bigfoot and The Tormentors, but his real life is way more interesting than any of the films that he was in. Once heralded as the successor to Clark Gable — indeed he took over many of his roles once Gable was drafted — his life took a turn thanks to drinking and bad relationships. His first marriage to Mary June Ray ended after 15 years due to claims of spousal abuse. His second marriage to Jill Jarman would not last the year, ending with him being threatened with arrest for not attending their divorce hearing. It was alleged that he broke into her home, beat her and cut up all of her clothes. That said, four years later, she’d kill her eleven-year-old son and commit suicide. A third marriage also ended in divorce. After the mid 1970’s, Craig retired to become a real estate agent.

But back to The Revenge of Dr. X. In Japan, Dr. Bragan stays at a hotel with his beautiful assistant, Dr. Hanamura (Kami), whose phonetic dead readings tell us she’s in love with this guy who is way too old for her and acts way too creepy, giving her unnecessary compliments about her looks before he even really knows her. He also begins experiments on a Venus Flytrap plant he brought from America, customs be damned. After he crosses it with a carnivorous undersea plant that he has nude pearl divers get for him — exploitation movie logic — and blasts it with lightning, is it any wonder that it’s soon eating puppies and people?

Come for the stock footage and library music. Stay for the strange plant person. If you think you know what a bad movie is and you haven’t seen this one, well, you don’t know what a bad movie is.

You can catch this on Amazon Prime.

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