in horror films, as far as eukaryotes go — animals get most of the attention. we’re all familiar with various animal horrors that should be avoided. whether it be primate (e.g. KING KONG, MONKEY SHINES, and all human slashers like jason and leatherface), insect (e.g., THEM, MIMIC), fish (e.g., JAWS, PIRANHA), or fowl (e.g., THE BIRDS, BEAKS), we’re all pretty well versed in which animals want to eviscerate us and which want to cuddle. with all those fancy teeth, claws, stingers and chainsaws, it’s easy to see how one might overlook the horrors that other, less flashy multicellular organisms offer — but plants also offer their own unique brand of terror, as leafy and chlorophyll powered as it may be. therefore, in the interest of public awareness, i give you part one of “eleven horror movie plants with whom you should not f.”
11. the kingdom plantae, THE HAPPENING
it’s never stated exactly which plants are targeting people with a suicide-inducing neurotoxin, but the implication seems to be just about all of them. scientifically unsound, it’d hard to believe that rose bushes and pine trees both evolved the same toxin simultaneously — but that’s not really this film’s biggest problem. the larger issue is a horror film that asks you to be afraid of chia pets. still, if this were to really happen you would be wise to find a way to appease our new leafy overlords as there appears to be little you could do to avoid the effects of this neurotoxin — except wait a few days for this new evolutionary adaptation to disappear. as they are apparently prone to do, in fantasy worlds designed around m. night shamalamadingdong’s fourth grade understanding of botany.
10. the family tree, POLTERGEIST
take POLTERGEIST as a lesson, kids — if your dad tells you that thing you’re afraid of is nothing to worry about and that you should actually be comforted by it — know that the object of your fear is definitely going to try to eat you. soon. luckily for robbie, the killer tree in the front yard was just a distraction to suck carol anne into the closet of phantasmagorical sucking, but that doesn’t mean that the creepy tree outside your window isn’t dead set on making you into a late night snack. to creepy trees, all you are is a little pajama-clad, blood-filled twinkie.
9. audrey ii, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
while it isn’t rare for plants on this list to crave human blood, it is unique to this entry that the plant in question can talk, (and in most versions) sing and dance. while audrey ii started off cute enough sucking drops of blood from seymour’s fingers, he/she quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with, demanding more fresh blood and freshly murdered singing dentists to satisfy his/her appetite. while seemingly destroyed before completing his/her plan to spread his/her seeds across the planet in the 1986 film version, audrey ii is more successful in the original stage play, apparently succeeding in killing seymour and starting a world-wide plantegeddon. while this is true of many of the plants on this list, the basic lesson here appears to be “don’t screw around with plants from outer space.”
8. druid tree god, THE GUARDIAN
while the druid tree god may seem like a good buddy to have in the beginning of this film (when the forest stops a nanny from being raped), especially given that its female followers tend to get naked surprisingly often. however, its desire for human infant sacrifices revealed later in the film is probably a deal-breaker. as far as deadliness goes, the druid tree god is actually kind of a push over. just remember to a) not feed it any infants and b) bring a chainsaw.
7. tomatoes, ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES
while many films keep the plant based threat hidden until mid-way through the picture, the threat from tomatoes is stated quite clearly in this film’s opening song. as it says, “they’ll beat you, bash you, squish you, mash you, chew you up for brunch, and finish you off for dinner or lunch!” that doesn’t give you a lot of wiggle room for survival, or so it would seem in the earlier parts of this send up of b-movie classics. as it turns out, tomatoes (or at least those of the “killer” variety) share a devastating weakness — they shrink and become incapacitated when they hear the song “puberty love” (or, in at least once case, simply have the sheet music for the song shown to them). while it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be involved in a killer tomato related altercation, it’s probably best to have “puberty love” loaded on your ipod, just in case.