Monthly Archives: September 2018

Nightmare Academy [1979]

Sample Images

Nightmare Academy 1Nightmare Academy 2Nightmare Academy 3Nightmare Academy 4

Published: Misty 5 May 1979 – 29 July 1979

Episodes: 12

Artist: Jaume Raumeu

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Sharon Watts is sent to Knightstair Boarding School when her father gets an oil job in UAE. She is not thrilled at the idea of boarding school, and as the story unfolds she will be even less so. There is no school bus to meet her at the station as arranged, and the station master says the school never has a telephone. So she walks there and finds it is a Transylvanian-style castle, which strikes her as creepy. The place is deserted except for angry dogs, which look as if they were from hell or something, and are kept securely behind a section of the castle that is out of bounds. The dogs, she later learns, are called Belial, Baal and Mordred, which the headmistress Miss Nocturne keeps under control with a whip. Miss Nocturne tells Sharon that obedience is the first thing the girls must learn here, and the dogs too. Miss Nocturne confiscates Sharon’s mirrors, saying she will not need them, and says she was not met at the station because she arrived too early for them. Then she asks Sharon if she is anaemic. After an answer in the negative, she hands Sharon over to head girl, Rowena Marre.

Sharon soon learns the pupils sleep by day and have classes at night, and they are forbidden to look out the windows while having their lessons: “At this school, girls only see what they are told to see!” (In case they see something they shouldn’t, perhaps?) Sharon finds it hard to stay awake in this ‘night school’. She falls asleep, has horrible nightmares of Miss Nocturne being a vampire, and is sent to bed. She wakes up at midday and goes looking for food, but there isn’t much of it in the kitchen.

Exploring the grounds, Sharon finds the gates are always locked. Then she spots a gravestone with the name Rowena Marre on it, and the girl died in 1895. Sharon assumes the current Rowena must be a descendant. Then Sharon meets the caretaker’s daughter Fiona, who tells her Miss Nocturne only lets him come at night. After playing ball with Sharon she mysteriously disappears. Later, Sharon follows Miss Nocturne to an old chapel, but all she finds are bats. The bats fly away and Miss Nocturne appears on the roof. Furious at how Sharon has disobeyed her by exploring the grounds instead of resting during the day, she orders Sharon to scrub the kitchen to teach her obedience and posts a guard dog over her. Despite this bizarre form of discipline, Sharon thinks Miss Nocturne seems perfectly reasonable, even if she seems a bit eccentric “…but sort of creepy, too!” By now, Sharon should be getting hints of what sort of creepiness. Her subconscious sure is, with those nightmares of hers.

Another girl, Yvonne, smuggles Sharon food to cheer her up. Sharon sneaks out of the kitchen. She is astonished to see Miss Nocturne go off in an old-fashioned carriage, and even more astonished to see it has no driver. Rowena catches her with an oddly strong grip and cold hands. She tells Sharon the place may be haunted by vengeful spirits and takes her to the vault where the dogs are kept, but aren’t there this time. Rowena tells Sharon this section is out of bounds because it is a family vault. On the staircase a knight defended the lord of the castle, hence its name of Knightstair. Sharon thinks, “nightmare’s more like it!” (Now we know where the story title comes from.) At the bottom of the steps are coffins, and Sharon sees the name “Rowena Marre” on one of them. Her nerve snaps and she runs back up the stairs.

Then Rowena takes Sharon to dinner, and Sharon is surprised that they eat off gold plates. Yvonne tells her the staff and prefects eat elsewhere and sometimes pupils are “sent for” to join them. When that happens, the pupils never see them again, but it is regarded as a high honour. Miss Nocturne then enters with a list of names of pupils who have been “sent for”.

At this, Sharon finally decides something is definitely wrong at this school and writes a letter to her father, but it is intercepted and taken to Miss Nocturne. Privately, Miss Nocturne realises Sharon is a threat to her. But when Sharon confronts her with her suspicions, Miss Nocturne blames Sharon’s troubles and suspicions on anaemia and should have paid more attention to the biology lessons on blood (what?). She then makes Sharon drink a tonic. Sharon feels like she is falling and sees Miss Nocturne turn into a bat. She then sees the coffins again – and one has her own name on it! Miss Nocturne appears with fangs, tells her they are the Undead and Sharon must join them by way of blood. Sharon wakes to find herself locked in a dungeon and gets Fiona to take a note to her father to help her escape, but it is Miss Nocturne who comes to let her out.

Sharon wonders if Miss Nocturne is just eccentric and not a vampire. But then she hears Yvonne has been “sent for” and resolves to find out what happened to her. She also hears Miss Nocturne say that her potion is working and she will be one of them soon.

While looking for Yvonne Sharon finds Fiona, who teaches her how to operate the castle portcullis (sounds like something that will come in handy when the time is right in the plot). Sharon then meets Yvonne, who is acting as if she has been hypnotised and has super-strength. Fiona tells Sharon she has become a “watcher”, the girls who guard the place in daylight. Sharon realises Yvonne has been dispatched to “watch” her. Sharon gives Fiona another desperate letter for her dad to post. In the meantime she is stuck with this “watcher” Yvonne.

Sharon explores the stables and finds the carriage, but Miss Nocturne catches her. As punishment, Miss Nocturne takes her for a breakneck ride in the carriage (which Sharon finds icy cold, like a tomb), and drives the coach herself. She drives the coach so crazily that a wheel smashes against the rocks. The force flings Sharon out and she cuts her head. Miss Nocturne bathes it in the river, saying, “You must not bleed. Not yet.”

While at the river Sharon sees Miss Nocturne has no reflection, and finally decides she really is a vampire. As she is finally outside the school grounds she tries to escape, but the dogs chase her. She takes refuge at Fiona’s cottage, and the caretaker tells her that the school used to be a real one. Then Miss Nocturne came and turned all the staff and prefects into vampires, and drugged the pupils into submission. Sharon is the first to break free of the school. But the caretaker sees no hope of destroying its evil, as the whole place is a vampire nest now. Besides, he says, can Sharon drive a stake through a vampire’s heart? He says he is forced to work for Miss Nocturne as she killed his wife and is threatening his daughter. So he just turns Sharon over to Miss Nocturne.

Miss Nocturne now reveals she really is a vampire. She shows her fangs and tries to give Sharon the bite, but gets distracted by the dogs fighting. Then the dogs just fall down dead and Miss Nocturne discovers that Fiona has poisoned them.

The caretaker, Fiona and Sharon make a dash for it in a waiting car. The caretaker takes them to a warehouse where the “sent for” girls are being held. The vampires keep them hypnotised and drugged into suspended animation, and dangling from the ceiling in vampire-made membranous sacs. They serve as a food larder for the vampires and their blood is drunk as needed. However, the caretaker says he has an antidote for the girls.

Miss Nocturne chases them, but gets pierced by the falling portcullis (oh, so that’s what its purpose was in the plot). Then daylight destroys her altogether. As it is daytime the other vampires will be sleeping, so the caretaker brings their coffins out to expose them to daylight and destroy them too. The caretaker will use his antidote to help Yvonne and the other pupils to recover, and they have no memory of what happened. The caretaker, being the school doctor as well, puts out the story that it was an epidemic that killed the headmistress and closed the school, and orders the pupils to rest for one term. Sharon is sent back to her parents, much to her great relief.

Thoughts

Misty was one girls’ comic that was huge on vampires whereas most other girls’ titles barely even mentioned them. As far as I know, Jinty was the only other girls’ title to have serials that touched on the vampire theme: Dracula’s Daughter and Worlds Apart. In Misty, vampires often cropped up in Misty’s complete stories. Dracula himself appeared up in a number of them, and in one case even met Jack the Ripper! But this is the only time Misty used vampires in a serial. There might have been more if Misty had run longer. Who knows?

The vampire story is combined with another common theme in girls’ comics: the evil headmistress. Some of these headmistresses are just sadists who turn discipline into downright child abuse. Others, like Miss Nocturne, are using the school and its pupils for sinister purposes. But the purpose itself is a mystery that the protagonist must unravel in order to put everything right and free her fellow pupils.

When we first meet Miss Nocturne we can guess she’s a vampire from the moment she confiscates Sharon’s mirror, though Sharon herself thinks (and maybe hopes) Miss Nocturne is probably just a weirdo. But the vampire herself has an unusual appearance as vampires go. Female vampires are usually depicted as looking like Vampirella, but this vampire has blond hair instead of dark. And it’s a surprise to see this vampire in a teacher’s gown and modern clothing. Little by little though, she appears in more gothic style clothing and a cloak, before finally donning an occult-style gown that has skulls on the neckline by the time she fully reveals herself as a vampire.

Whether vampire or weirdo, you definitely don’t want to stay in Miss Nocturne’s school once you see her ideas of discipline (whips and total obedience?), teaching pupils at night, and the things she likes to teach, especially in biology. None of the pupils seem to complain, or show any concern or fear at how the girls who are “sent for” are never seen again.

Sharon, like all protagonists in a “strange school” serial, is the only one to sense anything wrong, be immune to or rebel against its influence, and be determined to fight against whatever’s wrong. As with other protagonists like her she gets help along the way, but they don’t or can’t tell her fully what’s going on. The caretaker and his daughter do know what it is, but they haven’t got the courage to fully help the protagonist until the final episode. And wouldn’t you know it – they have everything that’s needed to destroy it, including antidotes for the drugged girls. They just couldn’t find the nerve until Sharon came along. And even then the caretaker took a little while to come around. Fortunately his daughter Fiona showed more pluck (poisoning the dogs), which finally prompted him into action.

In the meantime, we have a story that is drenched in chilling, gothic atmosphere, all rendered by the brilliant artwork of Jaume Raumeu. From the moment we first see Knightstair Castle on the hill against the night sky we get the shudders at the sight of this castle. It looks like it came straight out of Transylvania and Dracula would feel right at home there. And when we meet those guard dogs and hear what their names are, we sense the castle must be a place out of hell itself. Other things keep coming to chill and scare: the cobweb-laden coffins in the vault; the old-fashioned coach that has no driver; Sharon’s nightmares of Miss Nocturne as a vampire; Miss Nocturne punishing Sharon with a breakneck ride in the coach; the “sent for” girls who just disappear, and it doesn’t take a genius to guess what Miss Nocturne is doing with them; the hypnotised girls who serve as “watchers”…the list goes on and on.

The only plot point that doesn’t quite fit is the headstone declaring the death of Rowena Marre in 1895 and the Rowena Marre we see. This is never explained and the story implies Miss Nocturne took over the school more recently than 1895 because the caretaker can recall when it was a normal school. Perhaps the Rowena Marre who died in 1895 really is a descendant of the current Rowena Marre after all.

The panels that reveal the fate of the “sent for” girls must be one of the most perturbing Misty ever produced. When we see those girls trapped in those sacs and hanging from the ceiling like prey waiting for a spider to devour them, it is so macabre and sickening. We heave a sigh of relief to hear it is reversible and glad the girls will not remember it. But it does not make up for the horror of their plight.

Nightmare Academy larder

A number of evil headmistresses/teachers actually believe, in a perverse or misguided way, that what they are doing is for the pupils’ own benefit, whether it is harsh discipline, perfection induced by drugs, hypnotically induced dancing, or anything else. Curiously, Miss Nocturne’s may actually be one of them, what with her ideas of obedience and telling Sharon “one day you will thank me for it” when she has her scrubbing the kitchen to “learn obedience the hard way”. Is it all just about turning the pupils into mindless puppets and blood banks to keep her supplied with blood and minions? Or does she genuinely believe that what she is doing is for the pupils’ own benefit as well?

Using a portcullis is a pretty unorthodox way to bring down a vampire. Is it supposed to be some mechanised version of the stake or something? Still, as the caretaker said, could Sharon have seriously been able to drive a stake into a vampire’s heart? After all, she would hardly have the arm for it. Come to think of it, stakes were never used to destroy vampires in Misty. Such things were not appropriate for girls to do be seen doing, after all. It’s more in the line of Van Helsing. More often Misty used the light of day to destroy vampires, as in Miss Nocturne’s case, or in one case, a silver bullet.

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Top 10 Misty Villains

I now present my list of the top 10 Misty villains. In compiling it I found it hard to find a respectable number of seriously memorable villains in Misty’s run. This is likely due to Misty having fewer serials due to her stories having four-page spreads and having an over-abundance of complete stories. Plus she only had a two-year run. These factors combined did not allow much room for more serials to run. So I have also included villains who were more on the unusual side or caught my eye for one reason or other.

In compiling this list I tried to be as broad as possible about the types and archetypes of villains. In so doing, I found that Misty had a very high emphasis on mad scientists, evil doctors, twisted Victorians, and characters that originated from earlier time periods. In contrast, I was surprised to realise Misty was light on supernatural villains such as witches and wizards despite being a spooky comic. As a matter of fact, she never used a witch or wizard as the heavy; ghosts and hellspawn had a stronger presence as supernatural villains. She was also low on villains who were peers of the protagonist, such as school bullies and jealous rivals. I believe these differences in emphasis on particular types of villains from more conventional titles like Jinty gave her a higher proportion of male villains than female villains. And unlike Jinty, Tammy or June, not one single Misty serial used space aliens as the main villains.

The choices are entirely mine and I am aware they may be subject to second-guessing. Some of you may have different choices or different rankings of Misty villains. Please feel free to express your views below.

And now, on with the countdown…

10: The Alt-world Gestapo Interrogator

Story: The Sentinels

Creators: Mario Capaldi (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 2

In this story about a parallel world where the Nazis won WW2, this Nazi appeared in only two panels, had no given name, and hardly had the chance to contribute much to the plot. So how come he made it to this list, you ask? In the panels where he does appear, he delivers one of the most powerful and disturbing scenes ever in girls’ comics – his brutal torture of Mr Richards. All the brutality of Nazism is summed up in the splash panel that depicts this torture, with all the ruthlessness in which the Nazis inflict it, and all without shying away from the horror while not going over the top.

Also, he is the only Nazi in this parallel world to have any form of substance. All the other parallel-world Nazis in this story were flat, hard-faced goons who looked pretty samey and had no development or names whatsoever. But this was the Nazi who had the real potential to represent to the protagonists the horror of this Nazi parallel world if only he had been developed more. Frankly, this character is crying out for further development. After all, Nazis are common enough in girls’ comics, but a Nazi who serves a Hitler who actually won the war – that’s different.

9: Rosie Belcher

Story: Hush, Hush, Sweet Rachel

Creators: Eduardo Feito (artist); Pat Mills (writer)

Misty Villain 4

Rosie Belcher “The Incredible Bulk” might not be as evil or dangerous as some of the Misty villains who didn’t make it to this list. But she is one of Misty’s more striking baddies because she must be the grossest character ever in girls’ comics. She has the most disgusting eating habits, which she enjoys revolting her classmates with because it gives her such a feeling of power. There is no limit to her depravity of disgusting. The worst example of this is taking bets that she can eat a mountain of school dinner slops, which she mashes together to nauseate her classmates even more before she eats it (why the heck don’t the teachers or dinner lady crack down on this?!). Plus, she is a bully and a totally unpleasant character with no redeeming qualities, except having been brought up that way; her family are as bad and disgusting as she is. And she wonders why she has no friends, which she blames on victimisation.

8: Miss Nocturne

Story: Nightmare Academy

Creators: Jaume Rumeu (artist); writer unknown

Misty Villain 9

Every girls’ comic has its own “evil headmistress” story. Some are just sadists while others have more sinister intentions. This is the Misty version: a headmistress who is a vampire, and her school is a “nest of vampires” that trap pupils as new prey or recruits in her vampire army. Drugs, hypnotism and three hellhound guard dogs bring the pupils into submission; obedience is Miss Nocturne’s first lesson. School classes under Miss Nocturne are taught at night, because of course vampires can’t be active during the day. As vampires go, the depiction of Miss Nocturne is unusual and therefore more interesting. Usually female vampires are drawn like Vampirella, but Miss Nocturne has blonde hair and has a more occult-like costume with miniature skulls on her neckline. She could easily have been taken for a witch if not for those fangs and vampire tendencies.

7: Mrs Black

Story: Moonchild

Creators: John Armstrong (artist); Pat Mills (writer)

Misty Villain 1

Misty’s answer to Mommie Dearest, and the nearest Misty has to a witch being the villain in one of her serials. Wherever Mrs Black goes, people whisper she’s a witch because of her crone-like appearance and the black cloak she always wears. More likely she’s an eccentric, as she doesn’t even allow electricity in her house or allow her daughter Rosemary to dress fashionably or have normal friendships. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the way she constantly beats Rosemary because she says there is a form of wickedness in her, which she doesn’t really explain. It turns out to be the power of telekinesis that runs in the family, but passed over Mrs Black. Mrs Black has a long-standing bitterness towards it because it unwittingly caused her father’s death. However, jealousy is the true cause of her cruelty to Rosemary; she’s jealous of Rosemary having the power while she doesn’t. Moreover, if she had been born with the power she would have used it for evil, which shows how truly inclined she is towards villainy. Plus, she just abandons Rosemary at the end of the story, which shows what an unfit mother she is and how much she really cared for Rosemary.

6: The Marshalls (and their accomplice, Gerry)

Story: The Four Faces of Eve

Creators: Brian Delaney (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 6

The Dr Frankensteins of Misty, except in this case they create a girl from the bodies of three dead ones. They did it because it was a challenge to feed their egos. They name her Eve and pass themselves off as her parents, but make it obvious to Eve that they don’t care for her at all. In fact they refer to Eve as “it”, not “she”, because they just see her as an experiment, not a person – and they can casually throw that experiment away if it turns out to be less successful than they thought. And this is what they try to do once Eve finds out what she really is and they could face prison terms for what they did. They don’t even regard killing her as murder because they don’t look on her as a human being. Dr Marshall and his accomplice Gerry are the ultimate, cold-blooded doctors who are the likes of Dr Mengele and are capable of anything in the name of science. Only Mrs Marshall has any conscience about what they have done, and she redeems herself by trying to help Eve when her husband wants to get rid of her.

5: Lord Vicary

Story: End of the Line…

Creators: John Richardson (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 8

Contrary to what the guide thinks, that portrait of Lord Sefton Roland Vicary is finished and that is exactly how his eyes are now. It is a side effect of the elixir of life that Vicary has extracted from his botanical studies and now he is immortal. This alone raises his creepiness levels high enough for him to be considered as one of Misty’s more standout villains.

Rejecting the Industrial Revolution and its encroachment on the power of the aristocracy, Vicary sealed himself, his hapless servants, and a slave labour gang in a subterranean Victorian world within the London Underground. In his world he continues to live out the good ol’ days where the aristocracy ruled over downtrodden servants. He is waiting for the day humanity above wipes itself out with warfare and he can emerge to rule the world. But for Vicary’s servants, endless life with Vicary’s elixir means endless drudgery and misery in an underground world where they never see the sun, moon or sky. For the slave labourers it is even worse – constant backbreaking labour under constant whippings and merciless slave drivers. For this reason the labourers don’t last long in this world despite the elixir of life, so Vicary resorts to kidnapping people from the London Underground to replace them.

There have been plenty of stories about heartless Victorians who live off the backs of the people they exploit, abuse, and regard as expendable and totally beneath them. But this Victorian takes it to a level like no other by making them immortal. In so doing, he has ensured his downtrodden slaves don’t even have the option of death to release them from his oppression.

Continued next page…

The Body Snatchers [1979-1980]

Sample Images

Body Snatchers 1Body Snatchers 2Body Snatchers 3Body Snatchers 4

Published: Misty 10 November 1979 to 12 January 1980 (final issue)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Maria Barrera

Writer: Unknown

Translations/Reprints: The Best of Misty Monthly #4

Plot

Nancy Perkins is making a belated return to boarding school after an illness and immediately notices strange things happening. Her taxi is crossed by a teacher, who looks scared out of his wits and in a dreadful state before he disappears into a storm. Yet Nancy later sees him at school, looking perfectly normal and doesn’t know what she is talking about. Certain pupils and teachers act out of character – as if they were imposters. A pupil disappears without explanation. Nancy sees a procession of pupils and teachers heading off to Broughty Manor in the dead of night, although the headmistress has just put that place strictly out of bounds and has reminded the pupils about it twelve dozen times already. We soon learn that these people are the henchmen of “the master”, there is something non-human about their eyes, and they have some sort of affinity with plants. Realising Nancy is noticing too much, “the master” orders them to kidnap her and bring her to his lair at Broughty Manor.

The master, Dr Bracken, explains that the Government and scientific community refused to believe his claim that he could heal people by combining plant serum to human flesh to re-grow body parts. Desperate to prove his theory, Bracken tested it on himself. But the attempt was premature, or so Bracken believes anyway. As a result, the entire left-hand side of Bracken’s body is plant, and now he’s a freak. Bracken blames the Government for his condition, so he is seeking revenge by overthrowing the Government and establishing himself as Britain’s ruler. The first stage of his plan is replacing everyone in the community with special plants that are grown as human clones. The clones are equipped with the brain-patterns of their human counterparts. These include all the staff at Nancy’s school and a considerable number of the pupils. What happens to the real people? They get fed to his man-eating plant, of course.

Nancy makes a run for it, only to nearly fall foul of the man-eating plant when she stumbles into its layer. Bracken sees this on his monitor and laughingly leaves her to the plant. Fortunately Nancy realises in time that sudden movement attracts the man-eater, so slow movements will get her out. After that escape she stumbles into the greenhouse where Bracken grows his plant-people. She is revolted and sickened by this “people factory” and can’t get out fast enough. She did not notice that her own double was growing there too!

Nancy breaks into the school to call the police. However, the plant people detect her before she can complete the call. She tries to escape down the ivy, but the plant people control all plants, which enables them to capture her by commanding the ivy to fall down. They tie her up in the infirmary. Fortunately Nancy’s friend Laura saw everything and gets her out.

After Nancy explains what’s going on, the girls make a run for it together. As they do so, they discover that Bracken almost has the entire district under his control and realise the plant people have a power over other plants, including communicating with them. So it’s only a matter of time before they are caught and have to get right away. They see a plant man preparing truck to drive to London, which is where Nancy’s parents live. Nancy and Laura sneak aboard the lorry, and have to share a dreadful ride with incubating plant people. They can barely keep themselves from screaming.

Nancy and Laura make it to Nancy’s house, only to find Bracken got there before them. He has kidnapped the parents and replaced them with plant clones. While trying to flee the plant people Nancy throws weedkiller at them, which destroys them. Now they know what weapon to use against the plant people.

Laura is dispatched to alert the police while Nancy heads back to Broughty Manor to rescue her parents. The first thing Nancy encounters in the manor is her plant clone! Nancy smashes a pot plant into the clone’s lantern, which causes it to burst into flames. Nancy heads to the man-eater plant room where her parents are sure to be. Sure enough, Bracken himself is about to feed them to it when Nancy bursts in. Nancy shouts at her parents not to make sudden movements, a warning Bracken forgets when he draws a gun on her. Attracted by the sudden movement, the plant seizes Bracken and devours him.

The police arrive (after Laura finally convinced them she was not crazy), but there is little for them to do except mop up. Fire has spread from the destruction of Nancy’s plant clone and is now burning down Bracken’s lair. The plant people just wither and die without Bracken to control them. So Bracken’s operation is now falling apart “like leaves in the wind”.

Thoughts

Mad scientists who tamper with or abuse nature were a common staple in Misty. And this being Misty, they paid the price, usually in the form of nature striking back one way or other. Bracken is no different. First, he suffers grotesque but fitting damage to his body as a result of his own experiments and tampering with nature. Of course he never even considers it was his own fault for not heeding what must have been legitimate warnings. Second, he gets eaten alive by his own man-eating plant and meets the same end he had inflicted on so many innocents.

In terms of weapons or credible invasion plans, the plant people are not all that strong. All you have to do is bring out the weedkiller or flamethrowers and they’re finished. I doubt they would stand up to bullets either. Or if you bring down Bracken himself, the plant people just keel over. The plant people are not good imposters although they carry the brain patterns and memories of those they have replaced. Sure, Bracken’s plan to take over Britain may look credible when he takes over the village and school, but that’s comparatively small and nobody except Nancy has caught on to what he’s up to. Taking over a whole country is vastly different and far more people would realise something’s wrong, and it would not take the army long to figure out the weaknesses of the plant people.

The definite strength of this story is definitely the horror and repulsiveness of Bracken’s experiments, including what he’s done to himself. The incubation of the plant people is nauseating. The plant people themselves are frightening in their somewhat vacant, zombie-like stares, but their real strength is how they have all plants at their command. Imagine if you are at 10 Downing Street and suddenly all the plants outside turn hostile. Or you are a farmer and suddenly all your crop fields go crazy. Of course there is Bracken’s ultimate monstrosity – the monster-sized maneater plant he uses to dispose of people once he finishes with them. And let us not forget the horror of Bracken’s appearance. Half-man, half plant. Urrghh, what a bizarre, grotesque sight he is. One side of his body is perfectly normal, but the other side is wood, twigs, and leaves. You scream out the moment you see his appearance in full! The horror is all brilliantly rendered by the Maria Barrera art in such intricate detail and effective use of shadowing.

I wonder if the Dr Who story “The Seeds of Doom” was inspiration for this story. It was aired three years before Body Snatchers, so it is possible. The story is so reminiscent of the Krynoid menace in the Dr Who story. The Krynoid, for those who don’t know, was an alien plant that not only eats people but also has the power to control other plants and make them turn hostile towards people. Both stories have a mad botanist out for conquest. Both mad botanists use ecological ways to dispose of people; in Body Snatchers it’s a maneater plant and in the Dr Who story it’s a compost machine. And wouldn’t you know it – both of these mad botanists meet their own gruesome ends by those very methods, which backfire on them.

Of course “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would be inspiration too. Curiously, the book the movie was based on was also called “The Body Snatchers”.