It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature... it can be HORRIFYING!
A mad scientist (Donald Pleasence) crosses plants with people, and the results wind up in a sideshow.
A mad scientist (Donald Pleasence) crosses plants with people, and the results wind up in a sideshow.
Donald Pleasence Tom Baker Brad Harris Julie Ege Michael Dunn Scott Antony Jill Haworth Olga Anthony Eithne Dunne Lisa Collings Joan Scott Toby Lenon Richard Davies John Wireford Tony Mayne Molly Tweedlie Kathy Kitchen Fran Fullenwider Lesley Roose Fay Bura Bob Bura Orla Pederson Madge Garnett Willie Ingram Esther Blackmon Hugh Baily Félix Duarte
The Freakmaker, The Mutation, Doctor of Evil, Dr. of Evil
How I yearn for the 1970s, happier, more innocent times, when a prostitute only cost £2 (it's an extra quid if you want her to say she loves you), and entry to a freakshow was just 20p (10p extra to see the Lizard Woman).
Long before the notion of resurrecting a T-Rex was even a glint in Michael Crichton's eye, there's talk here from mad scientist Prefessor Nolter (Donald Pleasance) of manipulating DNA in order to bring dinosaurs back.
But that's just an example he given of what might be achieved, and he really doesn't have any interest in reviving long-dead species, instead he's looking forward, he wants to help not just man, but…
The Mutations, a.k.a. The Freakmaker was the last feature directed by ace British cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and aces it is, if you dig B-horror pictures. Like most of the films Cardiff worked on, the movie is gorgeous, even if lower-tiered a production.
Donald Pleasance plays the mad scientist/lecturer working his wonders of melding plant and human, like a vegan Dr. Moreau. His results help populate a freakshow, led by obscured and disfigured pre-Dr. Who Tom Baker.
Pleaseance’s “genetic manipulation” is the science fiction version of things to really come in life, though I don’t know how many genetic scientists are currently working to combine plant and human.
I don’t know if you’ll love it, but I liked it quite well.
The Mutations (aka. The Freakmaker) is a weird British-made hybrid between Tod Browning's cult classic Freaks (1932) and a common-or-garden mad scientist pic. This time, the mad scientist is Donald Pleasance (an actor who, let's face it, was born for this sort of role), who experiments in fusing human beings with plants in a bid to reach a new state of evolution. He is aided and abetted by a circus freak played by Tom Baker under heavy makeup. Also thrown into the mix are several real-life deformed performers.
Curiously enough it was directed by Jack Cardiff, a legendary British cinematographer who worked with Powell and Pressburger on multiple occasions. While the proceedings feel a bit unfocussed overall, he nonetheless manages to imbue them with plenty of authentic 1970s Brit horror atmosphere and uneasiness.
I still haven't figured out why the mad scientist thought plant-people were a good idea, but he really likes plants, so, sure, why not. I got a kick out of him and the plantman and the weird plants he had around his lab. Poor bunnies.
However the parts with the students were much less amusing and really killed the pacing of the more fun bits. This did make a good film for my budding MST3k riffing practice, but I wouldn't recommend it.
"Balls!" - Tony's notebook
a real mixed bag.
The freakshow is pretty entertaining. Human skeleton, alligator skin girl, Popeye, lizard woman.
"We accept you. One of us."
- massive cyclotron
- time lapse of plants growing inserted into the feature
- Tony squeezes Dr Nolter like a giant life sized Venus flytrap.
Like some lost sci-fi/horror Lugosi vehicle infected by the spirit of Tod Browning's Freaks via the indirect influence of Timothy Leary... directed by Red Shoes cinematographer Jack Cardiff. In other words: my shit to the nth degree. Watched on washed-out VHS, but it's only a matter of time until Shout Factory picks it up for blu-ray re-release.
For centuries, Scientists have sought the missing link between man and ape. Well forgot all that. Today, I discovered the missing link between "Freaks" (1932) and "Freaked" (1993).
• HOOPTOBER VII •
(Body Horror 2/4
Decades 70s 2/6
2/3 Disease infection)
"I just want to be normal!"
For this Horror Hunt entry, the task was to watch a film involving killer plant horror. So after an extensive search—factoring in what was available via streaming—I had selected this Donald Pleasance B-Movie in which he plays a professor/botanist who experiments in fusing human and plant anatomies. Throw in what is likely influence from the 1930s Freaks film, a side order of John Waters style weirdness with a carnival performer supporting cast, childish practical effects, a lack of campiness, and far too long of a runtime, The Mutations—AKA Freakmaker—is just something that sounds funner on paper. Donald Pleasance isn't even…
There's some amazing psychotronic seventies aesthetics going on in this one!! I LOVE it.
Oh the mile wide ties of the 70's! (I still have some of my dad's kicking around).
Roger Baker (my first, first Doctor) plays a rather dark character and an integral part in the kind of sub-plot involvolving the circus family. Interesting to see him in this role, even if he is unrecognizable.
Donald Pleasance is Frankensteiny.
I actually enjoyed the plant lectures and films. And especially the plant effects/costumes. Plants fascinate me (and I give them my utmost respect and care in my house).
I liked this!
Horror Hunt #25 (July) for prompt
28) Let's watch a film featuring evil and/or killer plants.
This dude clearly loved the movie Freaks and wanted to remake it, and that's cool and everything, but I wish they just stuck to the Mutant Plant Monster story line!!! He should have just did a Freaks remake as a separate movie. Adding that here makes an already zany-AF movie feel kind of disjointed and not as good (at least to me)... Okay, that's my number one setback to this, so let's get on to the Stuff I Loved:
>Donald Pleasence as an obsessive scientist. [[Einstein vs Frankenstein]]. A Theory Of Total Genetics. Is he a revelatory genius or flat out crazy? Both?? He has some Amazing! lines in this:
-"of course young people are angry and confused!"
The Mutations aka The Freakmaker aka Dr Donald Goes Bonkers Again
Essentially a retelling of Browning's Freaks with some Little Shop of Horrors thrown in for good measure. Donald Pleasence plays a mad scientist keen on turning 'strong, healthy, good-looking specimens' into plant/person hybrids. Tom Baker in a rubber mask runs around as Donald's sidekick - when Tom's not looking for love, or kidnapping specimens, he's busy abusing his fellow carnival employees. And yes like Freaks, real-life carnival folk are exploited, paraded around etc. Hmm. So yeah - it's a mixed bag.
1 star for Donald - rabbit lover
1 star for the venus fly trap man
The Mutations (A.K.A. The Freakmaker) is a relatively straightforward remake of Tod Browning's "Freaks". Season that with a generous dose of "Frankenstein" and a pinch of "Little Shop of Horrors", and you have a close approximation of what's going on here.
Donald Pleasance, as always, is a treat to watch as the mad scientist trying to make a race of super-beings. Tom Baker is the super-freaky Igor to Pleasance's Frankenstein. Julie Ege is extra-foxy as a potential experiment for Doctor Donald.
Like Browning's picture decades before, "The Mutations" features many people who actually work as sideshow oddities. Is it exploitive? You bet! It's pretty fun though too.
A scientist experiments with the cross-breeding of plants and humans. His human subjects are his students, kidnapped and brought to him by a gang of sideshow acts. This film has a negative reputation, which makes sense. The science fiction and Frankenstein-style creation elements never satisfactorily coalesce with the carnival horror story. As with Freaks, real life sideshow attractions were used for this film (in addition to some impressive prosthetic work), but the portrayal of them as vicious malcontents is tasteless and lacking the sympathy of Browning’s classic film. In addition, there are several sequences ripped wholesale from the 1932 film. Despite the questionable nature of the entire endeavor, I found myself enjoying this low-rent schlocker more than expected. Director Jack…
basil kirchins moody jazz score is top notch
,stock footage of plants, a circus freak show (odd!), a mad scientist portrayed by beloved donald pleasance, diy practical fx which looks so fake that you have to embrace it, a movie as an example when people ask you: “why are are you obsessive with these crap movies?” and u answer: “they are singular.” and dim the lights.
This is a weird mix. Freaks meets slasher meets nature documentary. The movie doesn’t know what to do so it feels like 3 movies crammed into one.
It is entertaining enough and scary enough to be watchable and to wonder what will happen next.
Not gory but gooey!
What do you get when you cross Freaks (1932) and a Mad Scientist film? You get The Freakmaker. Donald Pleasance was the mad scientist trying to use forces mutations to create the perfect being all under the cover of a sideshow/carnival.
Also known as The Freakmaker, this one stars Donald Pleasence of Halloween fame as a sort of mad scientist thats trying to cross breed plants and people.
Well acted and quite disturbing at times. No way this movie could be made today considering the real use of little people and people with deformities, but it is an interesting time capsule of the early 70s.
Cool practical fx and monsters. Creepy moments/characters. And an overall disturbing feel to it.
"Cardiff instead goes for the "mad scientist makes plant monsters with freaks as a backdrop" kind of story, and apart from the obligatory hokey laboratory and some cheesy foam rubber plant monster effects, he manages to succeed to a degree. I mean, with Tom "Doctor Who" Baker in elephantiasis makeup, how could you lose? For good measure he throws in Donald Pleasance, and a bevy of bare naked British birds, and the aforementioned real-life freaks as insurance."-
I feel like if you want to optimize your plant/people hybridization operation—maybe don’t continually kidnap from the same friend group of four people.
If you're plant animal hybrids don't work out you can always trot them off to the local freakshow, at least that's what Donald Pleasence does in this horror flick also known as The Mutations, which benefits from it's vivid colour photography and the use of actual circus oddities. Not quite a remake of Tod Browning's Freaks but a homage including a birthday party sequence which also includes the "you are one of us and we accept you chant, this time aimed at a heavily made up Tom Baker as the hulking brute Lynch.
Super boring. Can't believe Jack Cardiff directed this. Whaaaaaaat?
I love that Jack Cardiff made this movie. Such a weird combination of pulp movie references that just keeps piling on the weird. I definitely picked up bits of Freaks, House of Wax/Baron Blood, The Fly, Little Shop of Horrors and some really cool time lapse photography that reminded me of the artful elements of Phase IV. The music is also really cool. Great movie.
A coherence of its promising elements into anything more cumulatively or conclusively ecstatic is (uhh) elusive, or, nearly non-existent. But this is visually so appropriately grimy, with a centerpiece sideshow sequence that is really truly upsetting -- the emotional shiv of those audience reaction shots sticking me good. A really stretched out and tension-building opening credits sequence. And a wonderful score from Basil Kirchin.
Unfortunately the whole thing does some devolution into the type of picture where a rubber plant monster plays peeping tom through a window towards a lady in a bathtub. This, I would call tedious.
But on the other hand, a fantastic cinephiliac moment about ten minutes in: a p.o.'ed Pleasance drops a folder onto a lectern. I found this bit so hysterically funny that I rewound and played it again and again and again before continuing onward.
Donald Pleasance as a mad scientist. Tom Baker as the malformed boss of a freak show. Plant people! What’s not to love about this one?
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