THE GARDENER (SE)
Reviewed by: JimmyO
James H. Kay
What's it about
A bored rich woman decides her garden isn’t pretty enough so she hires a half-naked dude to spruce it up. What she doesn’t realize is that he is busy planting his seeds of evil whatever the f*ck that means.
Is it good movie?
I’ve seen worse films but at the moment I can’t remember when. This early Seventies flick starring Andy Warhol vet Joe Dallesandro as a gardener that can control plants is one of the most inane low budget shockers I have ever seen. It’s just amateurish at almost every level. See, there is this rich couple that enjoy going to these elaborate costume parties, and sometimes they host their own (ah, the Seventies). And when the wife, Ellen (Kathrine Houghton) notices a neighbors beautiful garden, she gets all gooey over it. So she meets her neighbors gardener who is allergic to clothes (Joe spends the entire movie shirtless or naked) and he has one helluva green thumb. Obviously she hires him and her husband just says, “sure, honey” and goes off to work. Did I mention how inane this was? This gardener makes flowers grow really fast and sometimes even glow. And I think he is killing people with them. Was this a statement on “flower power” from the sixties? I don’t know and I don’t care. This is a thoroughly bad movie that makes you wonder what these people were smoking.
Joe Dallesandro was and still is a cultural icon. He had done a few “Andy Warhol Produced” flicks where he basically showed off his assets. He does the same here but less of it. And I’m sure there are a few ladies and gay dudes that will appreciate the nudity aspect (a couple of butt shots) but if that’s what you want you could also rent Trash or Flesh and go for the full-frontal Joe. Well how about his acting ability you may ask? He relied on his looks back then for a reason. His flat as a pancake delivery was so bad he had no choice but to get naked. And very few of the other actors come out much better. Some of these people should have memorized their lines because they seem to be cutting each other off (often). This is a film… you could have re-shot some of that.
I will say that I did appreciate Katherine Houghton (Katherine Hepburn’s niece). She did her best with what she had and looked cute as hell doing it. When she was doing her detective work to figure out what the hell was going on I did enjoy her delivery and charm. Although it would take a great detective to figure out what the point of this movie was. But I’m pretty sure it had something to do with flowers. Yes there are lots and lots of flowers. They pop up and they glow and they make people get goofy. But they did look pretty. Yes, there are some beautiful locations on display. And I also dug the music. The "floral" sounding score by Marc Fredericks was pretty haunting. Although the look and feel of this flick was good, it was not enough to warrant seeing this movie. So if you are looking for a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 type of flick and you want to see Joe Dallesandro naked… have at it.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic 16x9 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby 2.0 Stereo and you can also listen to the original Mono; why you would want to I'm not sure.
They finally know how to market this flick. This DVD package is pretty impressive considering the movie is shite. We get some pretty nice extras including Commentaries with Joe Dallesandro who is a pretty funny guy, not ha ha funny, he just seemed cool. A pretty good listen and it helps that he has a moderator. The next commentary is director James H. Kay. Also a fairly interesting listen, as he talks about the title change (it was later called “Seeds of Evil”) and working with the various actors. The two commentaries are much more interesting than the movie itself.
Planting the Seeds of Evil (35:38) is a 2006 set of interviews with James H. Kay, Joe Dallesandro and Katherine Houghton. After watching this I really wanted to read the original script. It sounds like there could have been a good film in this but issues like money interfered in the creative process. I really dug hearing there stories and how they felt about the film. Again, Mr. Dallesandro seems like a pretty cool dude. Good stuff.
Million Dollar Dream (28:37) is another terrific feature on this disc. This is a very cheap 1980 documentary on the “failure” of The Gardener. The producer Chalmer Kirkbride Jr. discusses how the film had failed in great detail. He talks about how it was originally intended to be PG but because of an on-screen murder they were slapped with an R (aren’t horror movies supposed to have on-screen murders?). We also get to hear from several others involved. The most interesting bits come when they talk about a “successful” selling of a movie as opposed to the lousy Gardener marketing. The movie they discuss is Phantasm. It is worth the rental just to see that.
There are several Cast Bios including, Joe Dallesandro, Katherine Houghton, James Congdon, Rita Gam, director James H. Kay, and producer Chalmer Kirkbride Jr..
Still & Posters (2:56) a slide show of selected marketing photos if you are into that sort of thing, I’m not.
Subversive Trailers including “The Gardener”, “Blood Bath”, “Metal Skin”, “Candy Snatchers”, “Blue Murder” and “The Freakmaker”. I actually think Metal Skin looks pretty cool but probably not, I’d still see it.
And to top it all off there is some really nice packaging for this disc. It comes with a slipcover and inside we get a groovy mini-poster and three collectible lobby cards. Good job Subversive.
This is one of the most amateurish flicks I’ve seen in quite some time but I am glad I saw it strictly as a curiosity piece. Bad acting with bad direction of a bad script and a few close-ups of flowers make for a pretty lousy movie. But if you dig looking at Joe’s chest and his butt and you don’t want to watch the less commercial Warhol flicks, than this movie is for you. And as a piece of pop-culture history, it was fairly interesting and don't forget... flowers. Will somebody please get that damn gardener to clean up this place?