Plants in films are almost as scary as the real things

  • Follow Steven Uhles

For most, the first appearance of dogwood blooms heralds the arrival of spring, the first sign that cold weather is behind us and a few months of pleasant, sunny days are ahead. I see those blooms and wonder why I live in the Garden City and not a concrete jungle.

I know that within three days of the first dogwood explosion, I'll be a coughing, sneezing, Kleenex-crumpling, pill-popping wreck. Although I don't usually suffer significantly from allergies, there's something about those dogwoods that gets me every time. I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure they have it out for me.

It's not like there's isn't precedence in place for wrathful plants wreaking havoc. Hollywood has been churning out tales of mean greens for years. So in honor of my cough that just won't quit and angry ferns everywhere, here are five films featuring bad plants.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978): This gooey, slightly goofy remake of the '50s horror classic finds San Francisco under attack by plant pods from outer space. Rather than sprouting malevolent ferns, the spores in this enjoyable film produce emotionless clones, who then dispatch their human counterparts. This story was revisited again last year, far less successfully, in The Invasion .

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986): Another killer plant from outer space? What's the story? Can we grow our own violent violets? Based on the popular stage musical, this film features a talented cast that includes Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, both of whom are upstaged and outperformed by Audrey II, the movie's central special effect. Audrey II is the outer space plant in question and needs blood to thrive, survive and bust out the primo R&B.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939): Man, stay away from Oz. If the trees don't get you, the flowers will. People always talk about how frightening the flying monkeys are, but for me, it's those angry apple trees. It's possible that's just my anti-dogwood bias talking, but still ...

SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959): Though perhaps not the most popular of the Disney "princess" products, this animated adaptation of the classic fairy tale does have the scariest flora. Sure, there's an evil witch and scary dragon, but man, that forest of thorns is a gardener's nightmare.

THE CHINA SYNDROME (1979): You know what that absolute worst plant to have go bad is? A nuclear power plant. Fine. Perhaps I'm stretching the definition of plant a little here, but this is a great paranoid thriller with powerful performances by Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for another allergy pill.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


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