WOMANEATER (1958) Reviews and overview

 

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Womaneater is a 1958 British horror film about a mad scientist who feeds captured women to a flesh-eating tree in order to raise the dead

Directed by Charles Saunders (The Man Without a Body) from a screenplay written by Brandon Fleming. Produced by Guido Coen (Burke & Hare, 1971). promoted as The Womaneater

Womaneater title screenshot

The movie stars George Coulouris (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb; The Man Without a Body), Vera Day (Quatermass 2), Peter Wayn, Joyce Gregg, Joy Webster, Jimmy Vaughn, Robert MacKenzie and Norman Claridge. Marpessa Dawn, who has a minor role as a ‘native girl’, would achieve international acclaim as Eurydice in Black Orpheus two years later.

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The film was passed with an ‘X’ certificate by the BBFC on 21st February 1958, cuts having been made (alas, no details are available).

Plot:

On an expedition to the Amazon Doctor Moran (George Coulouris) discovers that a tribe of natives have a tree that when fed beautiful women as sacrifices, will produce an elixir that can bring the dead back to life.

Five years later, the mad doctor brings the tree back to London with him and with the help of Tanga, one of the Amazonian natives, sets about resurrecting the dead using young female victims…

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Reviews:

“The entertainment quotient is helped enormously by George Coulouris’ star turn as the maddest of mad scientists; the actor plays Moran with a lasciviousness and gravitas that belie the ludicrous plot and flimsy characterisation” John Hamilton, X-Cert: The British Independent Horror Film 1951 – 1970

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” …they never really show the tree truly ‘eat’ someone or how the old man extracts the fluid from it.  Is it like breeding a racehorse? Do I want that image in my head?  I’m sure that you don’t!  If you like ’50s drive-in schlock like X: The Unknown or Them, then you’ll like this movie.” Mondo Bizarro

“Direction, acting and scripting are all equally questionable and totally lack the inspired silliness required to get away with such a motif, best seen in Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) with its carnivorous piece of flora.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

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“…fans of mad scientists and killer vegetables should on no account miss this little-known Z-grade affair, a British studio’s successful attempt to match similar trash that was coming out of Hollywood in the late 1950s…” David McGillivray, Radio Times

“Once again producer Guido Coen and director Charles Sanders trap poor George Coulouris in a miasma of awful material. As with their film The Man Without a Body, if this had been just a little more over-the-top, it might have been a lot more fun. Some of the same plot elements were later used in Konga…”

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“The British B picture at its most threadbare, with poor production value and acting to match: it is sad to recall that Coulouris appeared in Citizen Kane.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook 

The Woman Eater has almost too many pleasures to mention: bubbling beakers, lovely victims, stagehand-powered plant arms, natives wearing costume pieces from every jungle movie ever made, and of course the drums! Oh, the drums! Watch it today and keep an eye on your begonias.” Ali Davis

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Buy a Womaneater mouse mat: Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

George Coulouris … Doctor Moran
Vera Day … Sally
Peter Forbes-Robertson … Jack Venner (as Peter Wayn)
Joyce Gregg … Mrs Santor
Joy Webster … Judy
Jimmy Vaughn … Tanga (as Jimmy Vaughan)
Robert MacKenzie … Lewis Carling (as Robert Mackenzie)
Norman Claridge … Doctor Patterson
Marpessa Dawn … Native Girl
Sara Leighton … Susan Curtis
Edward Higgins … Sergeant Bolton (as Edward Higgings)
Harry Ross … Bristow
Alexander Field … Fair Attendant
David Lawton … Man In Club
John A. Tinn … Lascar (as John Tinn)
Maxwell Foster … Inspector Brownlow
Peter Lewiston … Det. Sergeant Freeman
Roger Avon … Constable
Shief Ashanti … Witch Doctor (Snake-handler) (uncredited)
Marie Devereux … Streetwalker (uncredited)
John Grant … Rescue Party Leader (uncredited)
Susan Neill … Orange-Juice Counter Girl (uncredited)
Stanley Platts … Explorers Club Steward (uncredited)
Harry Van Engel … Funfair attendee (uncredited)

Technical details:

70 minutes
Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1

Related ‘plant/tree’ horror: Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors | KongaThe Little Shop of Horrors | Maneater of Hydra| Please Don’t Eat My Mother! | Tales That Witness Madness | Venus Flytrap

Trailer:

Soundtrack score:

YouTube reviews: