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Stacie Ponder – O Christmas Tree: A Tribute to Triffids, The Ruins Vines, and the Preachy Plants of The Happening

As I sit with a cup of hot cocoa gazing at the magnificence of my tiny red plastic Christmas tree all aglow, I find myself getting a bit emotional. Swept up in the spirit of the holidays, I can’t help but think to myself: “Holy crap, I’m so happy my tiny red plastic tree isn’t going to kill me and/or eat me.” You may think this makes me a little… odd, but I’m telling you: It’s totally possible that your Christmas tree harbors murderous thoughts. I saw that kind of thing in a movie once, so it must be true, right?

That movie, my friends, is Trees 2: The Root of All Evil, and the trees in question are of the “Pinus Strobus” variety. Pinus Strobus trees have glowing red eyes, they truck around on their roots, and they have a taste for human flesh. Because Trees 2 is a low-budget comedic affair, that means they’re also made out of computer graphics, but that’s entirely forgivable because really — is there anything better than flesh-eating Christmas trees? I doubt it, although I’ve yet to check out the movie’s predecessor, which apparently follows the plotline of Jaws , but with, you know, trees. 

Piney holiday trees aren’t the only homicidal plants in cinema. Though their origins may differ, these deadly flora have but one goal, and it ain’t a desire to pretty up your yard, no sir: They want to make you good and dead.

Plants From Outerspace
When it comes to space
aliens, I think of two varieties: the giant, slimy, one-eyeballed,
tentacled kind (a la Kang and Kodos of The Simpsons), or the
kind that every wackadoo sketches after they’ve returned from a
“abduct-n-probe” session. Rarely do I think about the possibility of
space alien plants, despite their strong presence in horror cinema.
Movies like Creepshow and The Day of the Triffids serve as reminders that not only do alien plants exist, but that they tend to travel via meteor: Let that be a warning to you, people of Edmonton!

In Triffids, a magical meteor shower not only renders
everyone who sees it blind, it also delivers the titular Triffids:
Giant, walking carnivorous Venus Fly-Trap-like plants. Having to fight
off hungry plants that can chase after you is one thing, but fighting
them off when you’re blind is quite another. Fighting them off whilst
wearing 6-inch heels is yet another. As an early-1960s scifi schlocker,
Day of the Triffids is generally assigned the laughable B-movie tag, and the foam rubber aliens certainly warrant it.

Creepshow’s alien flora also arrive via a meteor in the
segment “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” but their modus operandi
is quite different. When ol’ Jordy (Creepshow scribe Stephen
King) cracks open a space rock after it lands in his back yard, he
finds that the center doesn’t contain delicious nougat, but rather an
odd, glowing goo. Before long, the goo turns into space moss that
spreads everywhere at an incredible rate, smothering anything in its
path. As the segment ends, it’s apparent that the moss has taken over
King’s beloved state of Maine, with no end in sight. Space moss may be
coming for YOU! Now that I think about it, I may have spotted some in
my refrigerator not long ago… or, at least, that’s a far more
exciting explanation that “Dang, I forgot to throw out that pasta.”

Possessed Plants
Sometimes a tree’s killer instinct
will be the result of a good old fashioned case of what my grandma used
to call “Possessinin’.” In these cases, it’s not really fair to blame
the plant itself, as it’s only acting as a vessel for this demonic
spirit or that and they can’t be held entirely responsible for their
actions. In Poltergeist ,
for example, that big scary tree most likely didn’t want to pull little
Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) from his bed and strangle him and eat
him — the mean spirits haunting the house made the tree do it.  

The woods certainly aren’t a safe place in The Evil Dead , as one poor sap can testify (Get it? Sap?)
As Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) makes a break for the car, she’s attacked
and raped by a possessed tree, which in turn renders her possessed,
which in turn makes for a really bad weekend for Cheryl’s friends, not
to mention Cheryl herself.

Preachy Plants

It’s good to know that killer plants are making a comeback in horror
cinema, but they’re far more sophisticated than the walking
flesh-eating variety of the days of yore. In The Happening, not
only do the plants want to kill humanity, they want to do it to teach
us all a lesson about eco-abuse. I don’t know what’s worse, getting
eaten by a Triffid because it’s hungry, or having some preachy plant
puff deadly spores in my face with a decidedly “I told you so!”
attitude. The evil vines of The Ruins are also out to teach a
lesson, these time about the sort of flip attitude of tourists,
Americans in particular, regarding local customs and history. As can be
expected in “stranger in a strange land” horror, that arrogance leads
to death.

While I do think that “Be nice to the planet and Mother Nature” and
“Be respectful of other cultures” are some nuggets of sound advice, I
think we’d also benefit from keeping in mind a line from Day of the Triffids:
“There’s no sense getting killed by a plant!” That’s why I
wholeheartedly recommend you get a red plastic Christmas tree: It’s the
right thing to do and the tasty way to do it. No wait, that’s why I eat
oatmeal; what I mean is, get a fake tree ’cause it’s better to be safe
than sorry.

A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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