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Case Number 26047: Small Claims Court

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Maria's B-Movie Mayhem: Seeds of Evil / The Touch of Satan

The Touch Of Satan
1971 // 86 Minutes // Rated PG
Seeds Of Evil
1974 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Code Red
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // August 1st, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker has a new, favorite rom-com: That Touch of Satan's Mink.

The Charge

A Code Red double feature!

The Case

Garden of Love…Garden of Death!

Seen many movies with one-time Warhol superstar and cult icon Joe Dallesandro? Ever think to yourself, "you know, this guy's kinda wooden; a plant could emote better? " If so, then have I got a film for you.

In Seeds of Evil, Little Joe plays Carl, a mysterious gardener. He just shows up one day, shirtless and barefoot, at the estate of the wealthy Ellen (Katharine Houghton, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner); it seems his last gardening client has mysteriously died, and he's ready to re-up with the pretty housewife.

Ellen and her older, hornier friend, Helena (Rita Gam, Klute), are impressed with the mysterious but buff man of the soil, but Ellen's domestic staff—she lives on some kind of South American plantation—all think that Carl's ability to make flowers bloom just by looking at them is the work of the devil.

Seeds of Evil—also known as The Gardener and Garden of Death—is a low, low-key chiller. There's not much in the way of suspense or even a point-of-view here.

Part of the problem is the underuse of Dallesandro. In an effort to make Carl "mysterious," we barely see him; instead, there are endless scenes of Houghton walking into her house, seeing scads of miraculously bloomed flowers, and then listening to her servants go on about it. Here and there, Joe gets a bit of dialogue, usually with Houghton and generally delivered in an even more stilted way than usual ("Come. Into. The. Green. House"). But we don't see him doing anything especially sinister or creepy, so we just have to take it on faith that his flower-growing abilities are some sign of evil.

Despite a welcomely wacky finale, Seeds of Evil just never sprouts. It's OK as a curiosity for those with lowered expectations.

To Love Her Is to Be Cursed!

Free-spirit Jodie (Michael Berry) is driving aimlessly across the country when he happens upon the lovely Melissa (Emby Mellay). She takes him home to meet her family: older couple Luther and Molly, and ancient, facially-disfigured Lucinda (Jeanne Gerson). After lots of cryptic banter and a boat-load of tedium, Melissa reveals a secret: She's a witch!

That's pretty much the size of it in The Touch of Satan. Other than a couple of off-the-cuff killings, there's really nothing going on here. Melissa's supernaturalness has nothing much to do with anything, despite an extended flashback sequence that explains it in prolonged detail. This film's claim to fame, actually, is that it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I'm guessing that watching this with Mike and the 'bots is a lot more fun than trying to watch this straight.

Both films are on a single disc as Maria's B-Movie Mayhem: Seeds of Evil/The Touch of Satan. What do these films have in common? They're both as deadly dull as the dirt gardener Carl so lovingly cultivates, only without the blooming payoff. And I suppose they both have cult cred, one thanks to its cast, the other thanks to MST3K.

But beyond that, there's not much to see here. Code Red's best releases are of really obscure films or their supplement-heavy packages, and this set is neither. Seeds of Evil had a release from Subversive Cinema a couple of years ago with lots of extras, none of which has been ported over here. The only "supplement" on this set, besides a Seeds of Evil trailer, is the Maria Kanellis intro stuff.

Tech-wise, these look appalling, filled with scratches—at times, it's like watching through a green blizzard.

This set is available through Code Red's website, by the way, and not Amazon.

The Verdict

Fans of the weird and the bad might appreciate this set, but I just see it as lesser Code Red.

Case dismissed.

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Scales of Justice, The Touch Of Satan

Judgment: 42

Perp Profile, The Touch Of Satan

Studio: Code Red
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Touch Of Satan

• Introduction

Scales of Justice, Seeds Of Evil

Judgment: 62

Perp Profile, Seeds Of Evil

Studio: Code Red
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Seeds Of Evil

• Trailer

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