The Gardener (1974)

R | 81 or 95 mins | Horror | October 1974

Director:

Jim Kay

Writer:

Jim Kay

Producer:

Tony Belletier

Cinematographer:

Michael Zingale

Editor:

Cal Schultz

Production Designer:

Don Gilman

Production Company:

KKI Films Inc.
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HISTORY

       Although the film was produced with the title The Gardener and was reviewed in Box on 16 Dec 1974 with the same name, it was later reviewed in Var on 18 Feb 1981 as Seeds of Evil after a 10 Feb 1981 screening at the Thalia Theatre in New York City. The film reportedly had a limited release in 1974, but HR did not convey that the picture was being re-released with the new title and stated that the review was only “for the record.” The print viewed for this Catalog entry was titled Seeds of Evil.
       On 26 Sep 1972, LAHExam announced that actress Katharine Houghton was starring in The Gardener. Houghton had been critically hailed for her previous feature film performance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, see entry) which starred her aunt, Katharine Hepburn. As noted in the Var review, the picture marked actor Joe Dallesandro’s first theatrically released feature film away from artist Andy Warhol’s Factory Films.
       A Var report on 19 Jul 1972 stated that principal photography began in Puerto Rico the week of 10 Jul 1972 and shooting was scheduled to continue for six weeks. The film had a $500,000 budget, and executive producer Chalmer Kirkbride, Jr., was aiming for a PG-rating despite the picture’s “erotic theme.” On 25 Sep 1972, an HR news item announced that principal photography was complete, and the film was the first feature produced by Kirkbride, Jr., and writer-director Jim Kay’s new company, KKI ... More Less

       Although the film was produced with the title The Gardener and was reviewed in Box on 16 Dec 1974 with the same name, it was later reviewed in Var on 18 Feb 1981 as Seeds of Evil after a 10 Feb 1981 screening at the Thalia Theatre in New York City. The film reportedly had a limited release in 1974, but HR did not convey that the picture was being re-released with the new title and stated that the review was only “for the record.” The print viewed for this Catalog entry was titled Seeds of Evil.
       On 26 Sep 1972, LAHExam announced that actress Katharine Houghton was starring in The Gardener. Houghton had been critically hailed for her previous feature film performance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, see entry) which starred her aunt, Katharine Hepburn. As noted in the Var review, the picture marked actor Joe Dallesandro’s first theatrically released feature film away from artist Andy Warhol’s Factory Films.
       A Var report on 19 Jul 1972 stated that principal photography began in Puerto Rico the week of 10 Jul 1972 and shooting was scheduled to continue for six weeks. The film had a $500,000 budget, and executive producer Chalmer Kirkbride, Jr., was aiming for a PG-rating despite the picture’s “erotic theme.” On 25 Sep 1972, an HR news item announced that principal photography was complete, and the film was the first feature produced by Kirkbride, Jr., and writer-director Jim Kay’s new company, KKI Films, Inc. According to various contemporary sources, including a 2 Oct 1972 Box news item and LAHExam, The Gardener marked one of Puerto Rico’s first attempts to attract film production to the territory, and the picture was partially financed by Puerto Rico's Economic Development Authority. A 2 Jul 1973 Box brief reported that KKI Films was based in Puerto Rico and the Economic Development Authority financed one quarter of the picture’s budget, which was listed as $400,000. Box also announced that United Marketing & Development, Inc. had negotiated a deal with KKI Films to distribute The Gardener in the U.S. and Canada, but the company was not mentioned in any other contemporary reviews or articles located in the film’s AMPAS library production file.
       The film was given an R-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) despite objections by the filmmakers in an appeals hearing, according to an 18 Sep 1973 DV news item.
      End credits state: “Entire production filmed in Puerto Rico.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Oct 1972.
---
Box Office
2 Jul 1973.
---
Box Office
16 Dec 1974
p. 4743.
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1973.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1972.
---
LAHExam
26 Sep 1972.
---
Variety
19 Jul 1972.
---
Variety
31 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
18 Feb 1981
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Chief grip
Prod serviced by
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Principal ward by
Addl clothes by
Addl clothes by
Jewelry by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Seeds of Evil
Release Date:
October 1974
Production Date:
week of 10 July -- late September 1972 in Puerto Rico
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Filmed with Panavision
Duration(in mins):
81 or 95
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a Puerto Rican hospital room, Mrs. Dorothy Burrows awakens from a semi-conscious stupor only to be traumatized by the sight of orchids. Upon Dorothy’s death, socialite housewife Ellen Bennett and her friend, Helena Boardman, visit Dorothy’s widower, Fred, at a neighborhood club. As the bare-chested club gardener, Carl, brings an orchid plant to their table, Fred explains that Carl will soon be leaving his post. The ladies promise to oversee Dorothy’s funeral arrangements and insist that Fred go back to his office as Helena explains that Dorothy’s illness was exacerbated by a simultaneous pregnancy and tumor. Watching from afar, the women admire Carl’s physique, and when he presents them each with an orchid, Ellen offers him a gardening job. The next morning, Ellen greets her husband, John, who has been away on a business trip. As John grants permission to hire the new gardener and leaves for work, Carl arrives, surveys the grounds and fires the Bennett’s gardener, Ralph, but Ellen insists that the elderly man stay on. After several weeks, the estate is abloom with exotic flowers, but the maid, Rosa, warns it is unnatural for plants to grow so fast and refuses Carl’s gift of a special blossom. As the Bennetts prepare to host a dinner party, John is pricked by one of the orchids Carl has placed in the bathroom. That evening, Helena’s companion, Max, reports that the rare orchids decorating Ellen’s coffee table are worth thousands of dollars. When John joins the conversation, Max suggests that Ellen dress as Persephone for an upcoming costume ball celebrating Puerto Rico’s Carnival. Max explains that Hades ... +


In a Puerto Rican hospital room, Mrs. Dorothy Burrows awakens from a semi-conscious stupor only to be traumatized by the sight of orchids. Upon Dorothy’s death, socialite housewife Ellen Bennett and her friend, Helena Boardman, visit Dorothy’s widower, Fred, at a neighborhood club. As the bare-chested club gardener, Carl, brings an orchid plant to their table, Fred explains that Carl will soon be leaving his post. The ladies promise to oversee Dorothy’s funeral arrangements and insist that Fred go back to his office as Helena explains that Dorothy’s illness was exacerbated by a simultaneous pregnancy and tumor. Watching from afar, the women admire Carl’s physique, and when he presents them each with an orchid, Ellen offers him a gardening job. The next morning, Ellen greets her husband, John, who has been away on a business trip. As John grants permission to hire the new gardener and leaves for work, Carl arrives, surveys the grounds and fires the Bennett’s gardener, Ralph, but Ellen insists that the elderly man stay on. After several weeks, the estate is abloom with exotic flowers, but the maid, Rosa, warns it is unnatural for plants to grow so fast and refuses Carl’s gift of a special blossom. As the Bennetts prepare to host a dinner party, John is pricked by one of the orchids Carl has placed in the bathroom. That evening, Helena’s companion, Max, reports that the rare orchids decorating Ellen’s coffee table are worth thousands of dollars. When John joins the conversation, Max suggests that Ellen dress as Persephone for an upcoming costume ball celebrating Puerto Rico’s Carnival. Max explains that Hades kidnapped the young goddess of Spring to make her Queen of the Dead, but when Persephone’s mother intervened on the girl’s behalf, she was permitted to divide her time between darkness and light. As John and the guests leave the house to continue drinking in town, Ellen is startled to see Carl swimming naked in the pool. The next day, gardener Ralph collapses at the sight of hibiscus flowers and is escorted to the hospital while the Bennetts are visited by horticultural society member Gladys Stone. Later, Ellen reprimands another maid, Leeza, for trying to throw away the exotic flowers Carl delivered for her Persephone costume; the woman warns the blooms are bad luck, but Ellen is charmed. That night, John surprises Ellen by dressing as Hades, but is dismayed to learn that his wife’s costume is decorated with Carl’s blossoms. As the couple joins Helena and Max on a drive to the Carnival ball, John is pricked by a flower on Ellen’s costume. At the party, Ellen is lured into the garden, where she sees Carl half-dressed. An intoxicated John distracts her, but his hand is pierced by flowers on Ellen’s costume as he reaches for her. The following morning, John offers to take Ellen on a holiday to make amends, but Ellen searches for Carl in the garden after her husband leaves. When she thanks the gardener for the flowers, he shows her the flourishing greenhouse, where hibiscus buds bloom upon her touch. That night, while John is still at work, Ellen dreams of blossoming flowers and sleepwalks to the pool, where she and Carl kiss. As the house lights turn on, Ellen collapses and Carl walks away, leaving the woman to awaken to the company of her niece, Jinny, and her companions, Robby and Helena. The following morning, Ellen invites Jinny to stay at the estate and Helena warns that the girl will seduce Carl. During a rainstorm that night, Ellen discovers a note from Jinny, saying that she will be away indefinitely. Fearing that the girl has gone off with Carl, Ellen interrogates Leeza about the gardener’s whereabouts. Leeza repeats her warning that Carl has dangerous, supernatural powers, then leaves her mistress alone in the house. Ellen searches for Carl but instead finds a screeching cat. Later, Helena comforts Ellen and offers to hire Carl so Ellen can be at a safe distance from his seduction. In the morning, the two women confront the gardener and he agrees to start work for Helena that day. To assure herself that Leeza’s warnings are unfounded, Ellen phones Carl’s former employers, but she learns that Mrs. Melendez died while her garden was under Carl’s care. When Ellen and Helena visit Salvador, a former Melendez employee, they find out that Mr. Melendez killed himself by driving into a tree and Mrs. Melendez, who spent a lot of time with Carl, committed suicide in grief. Salvador tells the ladies that Carl previously worked for Mr. Martin Garcia, director of the international bank, and they head to the Garcia home, where the mentally unstable Margarita Garcia warns that flowers are killers. Returning home, Helena complains that Ellen is overreacting and insists that Carl is harmless, but Ellen is adamant about contacting one last former employer, Mrs. Van Wohl. At the Van Wohl apartment, Ellen learns Mr. Van Wohl’s first wife drowned in a lake while Carl worked for him. Frantic, Ellen phones Helena to warn her about the gardener, but the woman does not answer because she and Carl are making love. Ellen arrives at Helena’s home to find her friend entwined in a plant, begging for release; Ellen chops Helena’s arms with a scythe, killing the woman and promising to seek revenge. After retrieving a handgun from the house, Ellen returns outside, where Carl stands naked before her with outstretched arms. Although she shoots him in the chest, he turns and runs into the garden, where he transforms into a tree. Ellen douses the trunk with gasoline and sets the tree ablaze, but sees visions of Carl with open arms in the flames. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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