From Hell It Came (1957)


From Hell It Came is set on some remote South Pacific island where a tribal Prince named Kimo (Gregg Palmer) stands accused of murder, he stands accused of murdering his father the tribal King. Power hungry Witch Doctor Tano (Robert Swan) killed the King but framed Kimo for the murder & the small team of American scientists based on the island, Tano sentences Kimo to death & a dagger is plunged into his heart. News of the execution reaches Doctor William Arnold (Tod Andrews) & Professor Clark (John NcNamara) who are researching radioactivity levels on the island who become worried about the hostile natives. Kimo is buried in a wooden coffin & a strange tree like growth starts to grow from the grave, American scientists Arnold & Clark dig it up but the large monster like tree comes to life & sets out to kill all those responsible for Kimo’s unjust execution…

Directed by Dan Milner this 50’s black and white monster flick has a pretty bad reputation as one of the worst around & while it’s hard to totally disagree with that accusation I must admit that I thought From Hell It Came had it’s moments. For a start the pacing is terrible, the first forty odd minutes is all talk & virtually nothing happens but then once the killer tree Tabanga appears it’s in virtually every scene from then on. The script is a bit of mess, it really doesn’t make that much sense & whoever wrote it seems confused as to what exactly the details of the plot are. The script hints at the Tabanga tree monster as being a supernatural force to avenge an unjust death but then also suggests several times that it was caused by radiation with no clear answer but in a badly written sort of way rather than a make your own mind up sort of way. Then there’s these scientists, they refer to the tree as a tree but mention heartbeats & blood like in an animal yet the two men dismiss the creature as unimportant despite the fact they are stationed on the island to conduct research into the effects of radiation! Would a mutant tree creature not be worth making a note of? There’s a brief traditional island medicine versus modern treatment debate that doesn’t go anywhere & the character’s are all quite poor but I did have some fun with this. At only just over 70 odd minutes long at least it’s short although as I said the first forty minutes is really talky & dull. Once the Tabanga tree monster show’s up there’s a certain amount of goofy fun & charm here & it’s by no means the worst film I have ever seen despite what many of the reviews say.

I suppose if you wanted to defend From Hell It Came you could say looking at it with modern eyes doesn’t help but even back in 57 when this came out the reviews were scathing with the famous review lines ‘And to hell it can go!’ & ‘Send it back’ examples of less than impressed critics. The Tabanga tree monster has rightly gone down in film history as one of the of the sillier monsters although the basic concept is sound the actual execution of the beast is laughable. The idea of a killer tree monster isn’t bad, set it at night & make a decent monster suit there’s real potential there but the rubber suit used here looks daft. It shuffles along really slowly, has this big inanimate face & isn’t scary but again like I said is quite fun to watch stumble around trying to be frightening. There’s a really badly staged fight between two native women too, it really is the worst fight scene I’ve seen in ages with them just rolling around on the ground a bit & pulling each other’s hair.

Filmed nowhere near a South Pacific island From Hell It Came looks cheap as expected, the natives look very Caucasian & the acting is pretty wooden from everyone involved both tree based life-form & human.

From Hell It Came was the last film made by Dan Milner, maybe he wanted to ‘branch’ out into other things (yeah!). I’m ‘stumped’ as to why so many people hate this though (I am good) as I thought it was alright in a goofy way. I ‘wood’ have liked better pacing though (OK, now I’m getting desperate). By the way what’s Tabanga’s favourite song? Yep that’s right, ‘Evergreen’ by Will Young…