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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Mystery > Supernatural > Erotic > The Gardener (aka Seeds Of Evil/1975)

The Gardener (aka Seeds Of Evil/1975)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Film: B-



The ability of older Horror films to be effortlessly creepy and interesting was standard for films in the 1960s and 1970s.  The genre was in its last great golden period and all kinds of interesting works often forgotten are just now resurfacing.  James H. Kay’s The Gardener (aka Seeds Of Evil/1975) is one such film, with an interesting combination of terror, sexuality and the supernatural that never totally cohere in a good way, leaving many possibilities in its openendedness.


Joe Dallesandro was the superstud in the films of Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey that redefined male sexuality in international cinema, starting from Warhol’s adorations to being the first male to appear sexually erect in a non-XXX film.  He was in Warhol’s controversial Western Lonesome Cowboys (1969, an X-rated film investigated by the FBI for being subversive) and the two X-rated Morrissey horror films, Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula.  They all had unusual sexual and violent content, so the idea of having Dallesandro in this film was to try to do something new and maybe more “legitimate” (read censored) as he played the deadly title character.


As was the case in Blood For Dracula, he plays the servant/stud role, but in playing on that and that sexual fantasy in general, Kay’s screenplay is suggesting that the very dark side of the fantasy.  That the dreamlike state it affords is a death trap as the natural laidback nature of the fantasy is suddenly and literally a vegetative death the equivalent of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, with an emphasis on the sexuality of that body.


Katherine Houghton (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?) is the homeowner who has hired the title character to fix her garden, but when she becomes infatuated and interested, he gets the chance to sow his seeds.  Too bad for her that the most unexpected bait and switch is taking place, leaving dead bodies all over the place.  The contrast of her mousy sexuality against his overt sexuality, as he walk semi-naked to naked all over the place all the time, gives a bad name to the dysfunctional idea that opposites attract.  Dallesandro’s acting was always noted for being wooden (no puns intended) or underwhelming, but it actually makes his character here all the more creepy, especially if you have never seen him on screen before.


The film may not be a smashing success, but the way everything is given an opposite, deadly meaning is intriguing and the titles character’s connection with nature of all kinds adds up to an effective film for those not desensitized to what the natural is or what is natural.  Obviously, Dallesandro’s sexuality is being exploited to some extent, but when his character is not as sexual in a full human capacity, those around him should know something is wrong, but they are so laid back because of their money, the nice area they live, the laid back time the film takes place and their own lack of animal sexuality that it is no wonder they become easy pray.  This uncut version of the film proves just how successful it really was.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not bad for its age, with some good fleshtones, detail, depth and color by TVC, but they are all still limited no matter how consistent.  Cinematographer Michael Zingale deserves credit for making nature a star focus of all the scenes, increasing the creepiness factor.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is a little better than the Dolby Mono, but the film’s dialogue and low-budget origins still have their limits and show their age.  The combination is still effective enough to enjoy.


Extras are many and include two commentary tracks, one by star Dallesandro (his first ever feature length commentary) and the other by director Kay, stills, text talent bios, featurette with cast and crew, trailers for six other Subversive Cinema titles and the DVD case contains mini-poster and postcard-size lobby card reproductions.  Altogether, this is a strong special edition for a lost film worth revisiting.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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