FROM HELL IT CAME
(1957, Dir. Dan Milner)
Warner Archives Blu-ray, $21.99
71 min. / B&W / 1.85:1

Hard to believe that Monogram Pictures Corporation, which changed its name to Allied Artists in an attempt to upgrade its product, then turned out this thing, which isn't even an upgrade from Return of the Ape Man. Stupid, ridiculous, and with one of the goofiest monsters EVER in the history of movies - so yeah, we LOVE it!

The chief of a South Sea island is accused by the Witch Doctor of consorting with white people (and frankly, he's actually guilty of that) and, thanks to false testimony from his unfaithful wife, sentenced to death. He's tied up and tossed into a chicken pen and it appears he's going to be pecked to death, which would be a first in screen history, but no, this movie isn't THAT stupid, although it tries, folks, it really does. They just pound a knife into his heart, toss him into a wooden coffin, and bury him standing up in a burial place that's been tainted with radioactivity from H-bomb tests (because by 1957, all movie monsters needed some sort of half-assed atomic explanation).

The white folks (scientists, military attaches, daffy comic relief man-hungry cockney woman; you know, the usual) soon learn that the Chief has vowed to return as the fearful Tabanga, which is native for "Hardly Ambulatory Tree Monster with Lightbulbs for Eyes," so they all go down to the native cemetery and dig the thing up, take it back to the lab, and shoot it full of some sort of nuclear adrenaline. Why? Well, none of us in the audience could quite figure that out, except sometimes when life offers you the opportunity to shoot a tree full of radioactive chemicals, you have to seize the chance. Anyway, our entire cast then goes to bed and when they return the next morning, the lab is wrecked, the tree is missing, and the chase is on. Unfortunately, it's taken us 50 minutes to get to this part, but at least from here on in the bark hits the fan as the Tabanga creeps up behind its prey on tip-roots and dispatches various natives by tossing them into quicksand or over cliffs. In the end, it nabs one of the non-native women and HEY that's going a little TOO far and our heroes decide to dispatch his wooden ass - permanently.

From Hell It Came is nobody's idea of a good movie and the cast stinks (especially the lead, Tod Andrews, and get this: he'd appeared in Monogram films a decade earlier, including the notorious Voodoo Man and Return of the Ape Man, but changed his name for From Hell It Came. Well, you can run but you can't hide, Toddy). As bad movies go, we've seen a lot badder, though, and you have to give the filmmakers (a whole bunch of Milner Brothers, if the credits are to be believed) credit for creating a monster that looks like a fever dream with twigs. And he's not even the scariest thing in the movie - check out the chunky native in the too-tight floral diaper. Icky and chilling.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Cast member with a headache: "How come the travel posters never mention the drums?"

So, clearly, we love this movie, and if somebody had called us and said, "Hey, In The Balcony guys, recommend a few films from the Warner Archives to be upgraded to Blu-ray" this would've absolutely been on our short list. Frankly, dumb as it is, this has always been one of our favorite monster movies of the 1950s: you simply have to appreciate a film this ridiculous. So we're happy to say that the new BD absolutely is astonishing, likely the nicest-looking of the Warner Archive Blu-rays so far (at least, the nicest one with a walking tree in it). Purchase it with the Warner Archive DVD of The Disembodied and you have the full 1957 Allied Artists double-feature, too!

Life gets better and better for fans of classic cinema, and we'll close with something we used to tell our kids about Tabanga: "Watch out for monsters that can give you splinters!"