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I only wish that I could relive the first time I saw this movie. I was 17, and my father innocently rented it thinking it was a routine crime drama. Neither of us had any idea what we were in for. We only made it through the first 15 minutes, which may be the most preposterous 15 minutes ever committed to celluloid. Later, with friends, I watched the rest of the film. The whole remainder of it proved to be utterly boring and worthless, characterized by unrestrained sleaze, incomprehensible plot twists, lengthy irrelevant portions, and an entirely unsatisfying and pathetic climax. I have watched the first section perhaps 20 times. I have viewed the entire film maybe twice. "Roots of Evil" is truly one of the worst films ever made, and I don't mean that in an exaggerated way. The production values of even "Plan 9 From Outer Space" are superior to those of this low-budget, no-value thriller. Nonetheless, it is so completely awful that it is genuinely entertaining.
The highlight of this film is Alex Cord, who attempts an over-the-top performance like that of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." I actually find Alex Cord to be a highly likable, though not necessarily a highly skilled, actor. In fact, he is less an actor than a unique and inimitable screen presence. If you appreciate his physical mannerisms and the unusual cadence of his voice, as I do, then you will enjoy watching him perform regardless of the poor quality of the film in which he appears. But if you expect compelling drama or gritty realism, you will be disappointed beyond comprehension.
"Roots of Evil" is also notable for featuring dialogue so atrocious that a friend and I once planned to make a concept album about the movie in which we included parts of the actual dialogue between songs. We abandoned that plan, however, when we determined that our effort might actually compel people to view the film. I cannot recommend that particular course of action. But I realize that some, upon reading this review, may choose to do so anyway. Such individuals do so at their own risk.
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