?When I first started writing my list of the 10 Most Villainous Plants in Nerd-Dom all those many moons ago, I noticed several of the potential candidates happened to be types of trees. Quite a lot, in fact. Realizing that “Most Evil Trees” didn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world, I nevertheless decided to give it a shot (judging by the comments, it seems many of you were on the same page). Trees, after all, are a distinctive part of most natural landscapes. To make the things evil is to make us fear our very surroundings. Sometimes you don’t even have to do that much: some trees just look evil.
The interesting thing about villainous plant creatures is how amorphous they are, and how they usually influence the vegetation around them. The interesting thing about trees is how they manage to wreak terror and destruction while being, for the most part, stuck in one place. You might think that there is a limited amount of havoc such a being would be able to cause, but just take a look at this list and prepare to eat those thoughts.
10) Baobabs, The Little Prince
Baobabs are real trees with thick trunks and potentially nutritious fruit. Some of the larger specimens have had their trunks hollowed out to create buildings, and one such structure served as Rafiki’s house in The Lion King. They don’t seem to have any particular sentience, and therefore no real potential for malice, right? Well, tell that to Le Petit Prince.
In case you don’t remember French 301, the Little Prince lives on a tiny planet and spends his time protecting one measly rose from these pesky things (there are also volcanoes, but somehow the trees are more menacing). In the story, the Baobabs are simply a nuisance, but in the cringe-worthy opera adaptation (2:40-4:53 above) they take it up a notch by wiggling around and threatening to “stick their roots right in you”. Dear lord.
9) Dark Forest Trees, Legends of the Hidden Temple
These trees may not have been alive per se (sometimes they were possessed by evil spirits, sometimes there were just temple guards hiding in the trees) but they still count as they scared the bejesus out of me, and (I hope) other pre-pubescent Nickelodeon viewers. The “Shrine of the Silver Monkey” may be the most fondly remembered single temple chamber, but far more suspenseful was the Dark Forest (about two minutes into the above clip), in which contestants had to stick their hands into random tree trunks in search of the right key. All of the trees in this room were creepy, but only one was inhabited by a temple guard. Pick the wrong tree and it would snap up its stiff arms around you in a flash: a beautiful combination of Dagobah, child abduction and Russian roulette. Instant classic.
8) Evil Tree, The Mighty Boosh
Based on that name alone, it’d be hard to make a list of evil trees without this guy. Brought to life by the evil green Hitcher and his ludicrous Cockney bellowing, Evil Tree’s sole purpose is to keep the Boosh team from reaching the fountain of youth (he was also a late addition to the script. Shocking, isn’t it?). Tip: when facing evil wood creatures, it’s always handy to have a man made of sandpaper on your side, even if he is a seven-foot-tall wanker with wire eyebrows.
7) Groot, Marvel Universe
?An alien being from Planet X, Groot was originally a malevolent tree-man intent on enslaving humanity to use them as test subjects. Although not invulnerable, he was almost impossible to completely kill, as his body could be regrown from his own twigs and sap.
So why is he so far down on the list? Well, his villainous career was somewhat short lived, and after being foiled a few times he started doing stints on various hero teams,
including Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos and the Guardians of the Galaxy. While his work for the good guys is undoubtedly appreciated, one can only wonder how this deciduous demon might have served on the other side.
6) Whispy Woods, Kirby Series
I know it’s not a particularly hard boss or anything, and there’s nothing overtly menacing about it, but look deeper. Something about that vacant stare, that innocent expression, that simple face, masks a deep anger. This is a tree that only knows life through confrontation, that wishes complete misery on you, both as a player and a human being. Whether it’s the classic one-side-of the screen battle, the double onslaught from Kirby Superstar or the bizarrely impressionistic one from Dreamland 3 (you know, the one where it GETS UP AND STARTS CHASING AFTER YOU), this tree ain’t right. I don’t trust it, and I have no sympathy for it, even if it does shed a sad single tear on defeat.
5) Possessed Tree, Poltergeist
Is a true evil tree born or made? The tree in the Freeling’s yard is just an ordinary old oak (I think) until the night evil spirits decide to make their appearance. Inhabited by said spirits, it bursts into the house, grabs a young boy, and attempts to eat him. Does it have teeth? What exactly happens when you enter a tree’s digestive system? Somehow, it doesn’t matter. This thing is seriously creepy, and even though it didn’t get much screen time or actually eat anybody, that bulky, dark brown, disturbing mouth is one of those things you can’t unsee, no matter how hard you try.
4) Every Christmas Tree On Earth, Treevenge
Hell hath no fury, apparently, like a tree wronged. These poor guys are cruelly wrested from their homes, sold to grinning strangers, tortured, humiliated, even sexually assaulted (which can’t even be that pleasurable for anyone involved). It’s no wonder that when their retaliation comes, it is insanely brutal, going places even Robert Rodriguez hasn’t dared. Be warned, it is nothing less than an all-out bloodbath.
3) Old Man Willow, The Lord of the Rings
?I considered putting the Whomping Willow on here, but that tree isn’t evil so much as overzealous and a bit misunderstood. In its own violent way, it’s just trying to help. This Willow, on the other hand, knows exactly what it’s doing, and he doesn’t have any real motive for doing so. A classic manipulator, he seduces and lulls his pray to sleep before striking and crushing with his massive roots. The only person who’s any good at stopping him is the Brian Blessed-like Tom Bombadil, and even he’s fallen victim to him before.
As cool as OMW is, he of course has been a bit overshadowed by other aspects of the Tolkien mythos, only managing to snag a bit role in LOTR Online. Oh, wait: there was that shitty non-movie-related Fellowship of the Ring game, but… well… the less said about that, the better.
2) Rape Tree, Evil Dead
This is another example of a tree made evil by outside forces. Not much to say except that this is still one of the most disturbing and controversial horror scenes ever. Ancient demons inhabit the trees of a forest and use them to assault and torment poor Cheryl before finally possessing her too. If you’ve seen it, you know it belongs here, and if you haven’t, you’re probably that much more comfortable in the woods at night than the rest of us.
1) This Fucker
?If you thought Whispy was smug, just check out the smile that appears every time the Kite-Eating Tree gets a new toy to snack on. Unlike other evil trees, there is nothing else to him: he exists solely to deprive a morose child of the meager hope of accomplishing anything in his life. In fact, this tree has no other features or characteristics aside from that big, dumb, soul-destroying mouth. No wonder Charlie Brown is in therapy so often. What a dick.