By Hank Parmer
[Click here to read Part I: The Woman Eater!]
The Maneater of Hydra (1967) AKA Island of the Doomed (La Isla de la Muerte) and Bloodsuckers, is a Spanish-German co-production, a taste in Euro-horror that goes together like gazpacho and blutwurst! But there's a connection between this film and the above-mentioned ultra-low-budget Roger Corman genre parody (see Part I) that tickles my B-movie geek lobe: Seven years earlier, Maneater's director (Mel Welles, who also has the story credit and co-authored the screenplay) played the harried Yiddish-wisecracking florist "Gravis Mushnik" in the original Little Shop of Horrors.
This time, though, we're in for a far more conventional story, featuring another mad botanist. This one runs a bed-and-breakfast on an isolated island somewhere in the Mediterranean, and a gaggle of doltish tourists and their guide will serve as Maneater fodder.
They're the inaugural guests at Baron von Weser's world-renowned botanical gardens and creepy villa, which the baron has graciously opened to the public for the very first time. Their handsome young tour guide, Alfredo (Richard Valle), meets them at the dock with a snazzy 1930s-style Mercedes touring car. A ferry takes them over to the island, and the drive up to the villa gives the dialog a chance to batch-introduce everybody:
There are the young Americans, handsome David Moss (George "Not the Beatles Guy" Martin, born Francisco MartÌnez Celeiro) -- and lovely Beth Christiansen (Elisa Montes). Julius Demerist (Hermann Nehlsen) -- who bears a remarkable resemblance to "Dr. Eldon Tyrell" in Bladerunner -- is a professor of botany on sabbatical. For comic relief we have an abrasive widow from the Bronx, compulsive shutterbug Myrtle Callahan (Matilde Sampedro). Plus there's late-middle-aged millionaire businessman James Robinson, played by Rolf von Nauckhoff (Rolf von Namebrandt had another commitment that week) and last but most definitely not least, his bored trophy wife, Cora (Kai Fischer).
Cora clearly has the hots for Alfredo; she toys with him while sitting by his side in the front seat, in plain sight of her sourpuss sugar daddy. With a pair of binoculars, the Prof excitedly surveys what he describes as a "horticultural wonderland", as Myrtle takes snapshots right and left. David notices the island seems to be deserted, and questions Alfredo about it. As it turns out, the Baron and his retainers are the only inhabitants now -- the rest of the islanders fled, because of some silly old vampire scare.
Just before they arrive at the Baron's residence Alfredo hits a man who bursts out of the bushes and staggers in front of the car. The men pile out of the vehicle, while Mrs. Callahan ghoulishly snaps a couple of photos of the victim. Alfredo's terribly upset and blames himself, but David assures him there was no way he could have stopped in time. James, however, doesn't think it was the accident that killed the guy.
The deceased's pasty-gray face and neck are covered with what look like hickeys. That must have been one hell of a party.
As they're about to drag the corpse to the side of the road, the Baron (Cameron Mitchell) materializes out of the shrubbery and tells them not to worry themselves about it. The man was his cook; another servant will take care of the mess.
According to von Weser, the poor cook was suffering from an incurable disease, went nuts and ran screaming out of the villa. (His last words were something about the wallpaper.)
Cameron Mitchell of course needs no introduction to connoisseurs of schlock; like Coulouris, his career has seen far better days. But as often seems to happen with European productions of that era featuring B-list American actors, someone else dubbed Mitchell's voice for the English version. That can be disconcerting, but in this particular case it was clearly the better choice to use another actor. Because even though they've dressed him up like Emilio Largo and given him a pince-nez so his hands will have something to do, if you're trying to pass him off as an aristocratic European that ineradicable hint of El Paso twang in Cameron's own gravelly voice would have immediately spoiled the effect. Although you think with that character's surname they'd have employed some thespian with a bit more of a Teutonic affect, rather than this cultured and vaguely Italian accent.
After expressing the hope that his guests won't let this unhappy incident spoil their holiday mood, the Baron personally conducts them through his horticultural wonderland. There are orchids from all over the world. (We'll just have to take von Weser's word for that, though.) Demerist mentions all the carnivorous plants he spied on the drive up, which he finds puzzling since they usually thrive in nitrogen-poor soils, and yet this garden is so lush. The Baron quickly changes the subject -- his prized composting formula is not for the uninitiated! Demerist picks up a soil sample while the Baron's back is turned.
Entering the villa, von Weser informs his guests that the place is full of art treasures dating back to the 4th and 5th Centuries. So don't touch! And no pictures, he warns Mrs. Callahan. But otherwise, they're to make themselves at home.
Up in their room, the millionaire rags on his wife for behaving like a -- a prostitute! He warns Cora she's pushing him too far. Right on cue, Alfredo shows up with the couple's luggage; sullen James offers him a gratuity, which Alfredo politely declines. It's clear he has a another sort of compensation in mind, and Cora is all too obviously willing to supply it. James scowls.
That evening, everyone sits down for an elegant nosh with the Baron. Von Weser proudly informs them everything comes from his own garden, and oh, by the way, all the meals will be vegetarian. Meanwhile, please sample the cucumbers.
Which they do, with nearly identical "What a jerk!" expressions on their faces. This wasn't in the brochure.
Mrs. Callahan is amazed: "It tastes just like meat!"
Von Weser smugly explains he's been mucking about with forced mutations, and one of them just happened to end up tasting like beef. But, like its ill-fated cousin the beefalo, is the world ready for the beef-umber? Apparently James thinks so; he tries to interest the Baron in a little joint marketing venture, until his wife tells him to shut up.
Much consternation is caused by the appearance of Baldi, von Weser's mute manservant and identical twin to the cook with that terminal case of love bites. David's suspicions are aroused by Baldi's emotionless countenance: "He doesn't look like someone whose brother just died!"
The Baron answers that Baldi knew of his brother's condition, so his death didn't come as a shock. Besides, if it comes right down to it, the guy could hardly be described as chipper. In fact, he looks and acts more like a golem that's been painfully afflicted with piles.
Von Weser suggests some unknown tropical disease was responsible for the cook's illness. (I'm assuming they began ordering take-out when those sores first appeared.)
Out in his luxurious quarters -- that is, the touring car, with the top up -- Alfredo's brewing some espresso (I have that very same Bialetti 6-cup model!) on a camping stove while he listens to music on the radio. Looks like they're in for another one of those frequent storms the Baron mentioned earlier.
Back in the villa, everyone's having coffee, too. Except for Cora, who's fairly lit by this point, and in rare form. The Baron's sparkling conversation about earthworms gives her an obvious opening to crush James' masculinity. When the talk turns to natural selection, she wobbles to her feet and sneers at their dull, wimpy book-larnin'. Cora promises she'll show them some real nature, and starts to shrug out of her evening gown.
After killjoy James cancels her show-and-tell presentation about the wonders of the bush, the Baron saves the moment by suggesting he escort Cora to the kitchen for a coffee klatch with Manservant Baldi. A few minutes of that ought to harsh the strongest buzz.
After they exit, James apologizes for Cora: "She can't hold her liquor ..." In a feeble attempt to cover his humiliation, he directs their attention to a potted bloom. "What a beautiful plant!" he exclaims, and reaches toward it.
"Don't touch that!" shouts von Weser, who's just returned to the room.
You see, explains the Baron, it's a Porcupine Plant. Not exactly poisonous, but it shoots spines at anything that comes too near. Which is why he keeps it on top of that low chest of drawers in the hall. If you get pricked, he warns, you'll be paralyzed for a couple of hours.
(With one of these, you're guaranteed to be the life of the party!)
The Baron offers to show them some more exotic specimens.
Back to Alfredo: He hums along with the music as he stirs some sugar into his coffee. Happy-go-lucky soul that he is, he's pretty much over his sad about running that guy down. But then, suddenly, he sees something terrifying. Tight close-up on Alfredo's face, as he tries to scream but can't. He begins to spit up blood. Blackout.
That's right: This movie is so crappy that in some individuals it may cause internal bleeding. Be sure to consult your physician before watching.
Meanwhile, the Baron's guests are amazed at his bizarre collection. First, there's a flower resembling a chrysanthemum, but it's the size of a dinner plate, with fidgety anthers kind of like crooked fingers. It ceaselessly emits sounds like someone randomly striking a percussionist's woodblock. (I bet this one's called the "Will-You-Please-SHUT-UP! Plant".) But von Weser is especially eager to show off his cross between an aloe and a Venus Flytrap. Astounding! It soothes and beautifies its victim's skin, at the same time it slowly digests them!
The botanical mashup's ropy, tentacle-like mutated-aloe leaves are stirring hungrily. The Baron orders Baldi to bring him a white mouse for demonstration purposes; Beth and Mrs. Callahan are thoroughly grossed out when the flytrap part of the mutation eats the poor critter.
After the tour's concluded, the party breaks up. Mrs. Callahan and the Robinsons retire to their rooms, while von Weser and Prof. Demerist repair to the study for a spot of brandy and a botanical bull session. David and Beth establish a first-name acquaintance. He suggests they step out for a bit of fresh air.
Cut to the Robinsons' room, for another dose of May-December marital angst before bedtime. Incidentally, James is a fresh-air fiend who insists on leaving the window open.
Back to David and Beth, as they socialize on the veranda. David has an uneasy feeling; he makes Beth promise to lock her door and windows when she retires for the night.
Meanwhile, Cora waits impatiently for James to fall asleep. She slips out of their bedroom, but uh-oh, the mister was only playing possum. Cora sneaks out of the villa and heads straight for the car, where Alfredo's bug-eyed, multiple-hickeyed corpse is slumped in the back seat. But just before she can get a nasty surprise -- and not the one she's looking for -- Cora's attention is diverted: von Weser is up late puttering around in his greenhouse. She decides to set her sights a bit higher up the social ladder.
The Baron croons sweet nothings to his vegetable pets, as he feeds them a suspiciously thick and crimson-colored liquid from a test tube. He's startled when Cora slips up behind him and puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me!"
But with the aid of that pince-nez and some hasty fiddling, he soon recovers his cool. Cora bums a cigarette. Without wasting any time, she works the news that her husband sleeps like the dead into their conversation. It must be very lonely here on this isolated island, she hints. The Baron assures her he's happy as a clam here with Baldi and his plants, and shouldn't she get to bed soon so she'll be rested for tomorrow morning's tour? Her sex-kitten act having so thoroughly and humiliatingly flamed out, Cora departs in a huff. Okay, it was more like a minute-and-a-huff. (The old ones really are the best.)
She crosses paths with Mrs. Callahan in the hallway. They exchange glances which fairly scream "Old bag!" and "Hussy!" before they head toward their rooms.
The movie now insists on showing us every detail of Myrtle's preparations for bedtime: First the quick look under the bed -- she seems disappointed no one's lurking there. She takes off her bathrobe, then sits on the edge of the mattress in her striped pajamas and does her breathing and nostril-clearing exercises. This riveting action is intercut with DachsundCam views of a pair of men's black oxfords, as their owner steals noiselessly down the passage.
Myrtle is terrified when she realizes there's someone right outside her door, stealthily testing the latch! The door opens, slowly -- oh, it's only Prof. Demerist. Har. He sheepishly explains he was "just checking". Mrs. Callahan angrily ejects the weirdo from her boudoir.
The Prof returns to his room, where he hauls out the soil analysis kit he never travels anywhere without and goes to work on that humus sample he purloined from von Weser's garden. He pricks a fingertip, squeezes a drop of his blood on a glass slide, sprinkles some dirt on it, and examines it under a microscope. I can't say I'm all that familiar with the ins and outs of soil analysis, but this seems like kind of an unusual technique ...
Meanwhile, in the Robinson's room, James' bed is empty. Frustrated Cora lights another coffin nail and climbs into her lonesome twin bed -- is there any other suicidally stupid behavior she hasn't covered yet? Suddenly, she becomes aware of slurping, sucking noises. It sounds like someone in that darkened room is eating their soup with a profound disdain for etiquette, or they're having incredible sex. Or possibly both.
Close-up of Cora's terror-stricken face, as our voracious off-camera Maneater claims its second victim in a night. (Like I said, this critter's not so gender-restricted in its diet as our first monster. Although after this particular meal it may have a hard time getting rid of that gin and nicotine aftertaste.) Cora manages to find her voice long enough for a single shriek, but unfortunately, the villa has excellent soundproofing.
Early next morning, the Baron and his guests -- except for James and Cora -- are outside the villa, admiring the splendid prospect. They meet James, coming up from the beach with a stringer full of fish. He explains he has trouble with insomnia, so last night he borrowed the Baron's gear and went down there to do some angling.
While the others head back inside for their complementary continental breakfast, Mrs. Callahan says she'll join them after she retrieves a bag from the car. James goes upstairs to roust out that sleepyhead Cora. So we get two near-simultaneous discoveries of corpses, both bearing the same inexplicable wounds on their faces.
"We're gonna need a bigger tube of Oxy 5!"
Everyone congregates in the parlor. Beth waves some smelling salts under Mrs. Callahan's nose, while James buries his face in his hands and sobs, "Cora ..."
As soon as she revives, Myrtle points at the Prof and screeches hysterically, "He's the killer!"
The Baron reminds her that's a serious accusation. David, however, says it's a great time for accusations: "Two people died in the arms of someone last night!" (Um, don't you mean "at the hands of someone"?)
David then brings up Baldi's brother, but von Weser objects that one was an accident. Who just happened to have the same wounds as the other two. David is unconvinced. The Baron replies that he's as "tragically puzzled" as everyone else. Myrtle insists the Prof did it, but the Baron cautions her against hasty conclusions. He thinks it's a good time to call the mainland police.
In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one in the audience, von Weser reports the line is dead. David doesn't believe him at first, but the phone is indeed kaput. And guess what: The ferry's not due until tomorrow afternoon.
Myrtle continues to carry on about the Prof, until the academic has a sudden revelation: All the car doors were locked, just one window was open, and it was only cranked down a couple of inches! Nothing human could have gotten in there to kill Alfredo.
"But a vampire could!" declares James. The Baron scoffs at his idea, but the millionaire points out that the window in his bedroom overlooks a sheer fifty-foot drop. Only a bat would have been able to get into the room!
Well, okay, but judging by those wounds, your vampire's missing a fang. And they seem to have an awfully difficult time finding that sweet spot.
James has more evidence to buttress his case: the bloodless state of the victims, and the vampire scare Alfredo told them about. Von Weser dismisses that as nothing but a foolish superstition. He tried to convince the islanders all those dead livestock they got spooked about succumbed to a blood disease, like leukemia. But they wouldn't listen.
So ... Cora and Alfredo and Baldi's brother all came down with the leukemia, as well. In the case of the latter two, the immediately fatal 24-hour variety. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me ...
David sensibly points out that they need to be working on a way to get off the island. The Baron admits he has a motor launch, but he says it hasn't been used for a while. David volunteers to accompany von Weser, while he goes to check out the boat. Predictably, it's been scuttled. The Baron thinks it's obvious the killer must have done that; he doesn't want anyone to leave the island. David clearly believes the Baron knows more than he's telling.
Back at the villa, Mrs. Callahan wants to take some more pictures of the gardens. Beth accompanies her. They stroll through some rather scrubby and not particularly impressive horticultural wonderland. Myrtle has a premonition everyone's going to die except for that creep Demerist. Beth suddenly decides she can't take any more of Myrtle's morbid maundering and sprints off through the woods.
She runs around aimlessly for a while and eventually manages to stumble upon Baldi, who's busy digging a grave for his brother. Beth trips and sprawls on top of the cook's corpse. She screams and passes out. Cycling past on the road up above, David and the Baron hear her shrieks and stop. Baldi carries the unconscious girl up out of the woods.
David orders Baldi to put her down, but the manservant won't comply. Von Weser explains that Baldi only listens to him. And don't mess with the golem, because he's abnormally strong. David promises to kill him if he's hurt Beth.
Back at the villa, the Prof procures a rabbit from somewhere, takes it out to the garden and releases it. It scampers off camera. There's a squeal, then those revolting noises again, while Demerist stares at something, both fascinated and repelled. He doesn't realize Baldi is watching him.
Demerist rushes back inside and locates the Baron. The fool is impatient to fill him in about his incredible discovery; he theorizes that it has to be one of von Weser's experiments, which got out of his control. What with juggling all those other fascinating projects like the beef-umber and the aloe flytrap the Prof believes it's understandably slipped the Baron's mind that he's got a murderous bloodsucking monster plant out there among the begonias.
The Baron invites Demerist to show it to him. On their way outside, the Prof babbles excitedly about taking a leave of absence from the university to co-author a book with von Weser, who must tell the world about his astonishing creations. They'll make botanical history!
The Baron pauses by his statue of the many-armed Hindu goddess, Siva. (Metaphor alert!) He coldly informs Demerist he has no interest in writing a book, or sharing his genius with the world. The Baron shocks Professor Idiot with the news that the bloodsucker is in fact completely under his control.
Von Weser cleverly uses this intimidating exposition to back Demerist up against the base of the statue, which conveniently contains a spring-loaded blade. With the press of a hidden button, the botanist is sivved by Shiva -- I mean, shivved by Siva. In a touching soliloquy, the Baron lets us know he feels just awful about doing this to a fellow botanist, but he had no choice.
Baldi is ordered to dispose of the corpse, and use discretion about it. While discretely lugging Demerist's body across the open courtyard, in broad daylight, he's surprised by David. The Baron appears out of nowhere, and agrees with David that his servant must be the Kissing Killer. Who's decided to vary his M.O. with this one.
He sorrowfully informs faithful Baldi that he'll have to be locked up. Baldi decides it's a good time to give the boss his notice. He knocks them down, steals a bicycle and furiously pedals away down the road. David and von Weser jump in the car and take off after him. The Baron produces a pistol; he assures David they'll have the means to deal with Baldi.
When they get close to overtaking their quarry, Baldi ditches the bike and books it into the woods. Von Weser and David follow. Baldi stops by his brother's grave for a moment to ponder the absurdity of this story, then goes to ground in a nearby ruined building. When David and the Baron appear, Baldi climbs to the top of the roofless ruin and starts chucking chunks of wall down at them.
"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"
David saves the Baron's life by knocking him out of the way of one stone. The two of them remain flat on the ground, so they can present an even larger target while Baldi tosses another block, which narrowly misses them. Then they get up and scuttle for cover. The wall collapses under Baldi as he's heaving another heavy stone aloft. He's buried underneath a pile of rubble, except for one protruding arm, and a bloodied, clutching hand, which soon goes limp.
This certainly worked out well for the Baron, didn't it?
Later that evening, David, Beth and Mrs. Callahan are gathered in the parlor in front of a roaring fire, as yet another storm is brewing up outside. James and the Baron are off somewhere, doing something in the out-of-doors. Myrtle, relieved and happy now that the murderer's been identified and disposed of, decides she wants to take some snapshots of the garden by lightning-light.
She leaves the young lovers. Everybody ready for the two-fer we've all been waiting for? You know: our first view of the Maneater, plus this obnoxious shutterbug's death by bloodsucker? (Despite the alternate title, there really is only one.)
I'll say this much about the movie's monster veggie: It's a far better realized and more believably nasty critter than the Woman-Eater. At first glance, the thing is just a fair-sized tree, somewhat reminiscent of a willow, but each branch is tipped with a single large, white blossom. Myrtle is so captivated by this unusual specimen with its lovely flowers she takes photo after photo of it.
But then all the blooms extrude a thick, hairy, pinkishly translucent, wriggling, slime-dripping tube from their centers. Mrs. Callahan is repulsed by this overtly phallic display, while the branches reach out toward her like leafy tentacles. Instead of doing the smart thing and beating a swift retreat, she just stands there and screams for help. But no one could possibly hear her over the noise of the storm. She falls to the ground. Lingering close-ups of the tubes attaching themselves to Myrtle's face and neck and pulsing obscenely as they're engorged with her life's blood.
"Did someone jam a hot dog in that blossom, or is it just happy to see me?"
Considering the stultifying silliness and cliched characters we've been subjected to up to this point, almost an hour and fifteen minutes into this mess, it's nice to see something finally happening that is in fact genuinely lurid and shocking. No wonder that, aside from Cameron Mitchell being the villain, this was the only thing I remembered about this film from the time I saw it on late night TV, many years ago.
While Myrtle's meeting her truly sucky end, James and von Weser carry the Prof's corpse into the Baron's family vault, where Alfredo and Cora have already been stashed. (Of course, a hastily dug hole in the ground was good enough for Baldi's brother.) James can't resist pulling a corner of the tarp back and taking a last look at his wayward wife. That was mighty considerate of David, volunteering to stay warm and dry back at the villa, sharing a mulled wine with the surviving womenfolk.
Meanwhile, Beth is concerned about Myrtle, who she thinks should have returned from her photo session by now. James and the Baron come in out of the storm. Beth frets some more about the matron -- it's been a whole ten minutes since she went outside! But she might have come in the back way, so James heads upstairs to look for Mrs. Callahan, while David confronts von Weser with his growing suspicions. A window in the parlor blows open. Beth moves to close it, and notices something outside. Without a word to the others, she grabs the flashlight and a raincoat and runs out the door. Her fears are confirmed when she finds Mrs. Callahan's bloodless corpse.
Insatiable monster that it is, the tree's already rarin' for slurpy seconds. Beth screams for David. Upstairs, James hears her terrified pleas for help. He looks down from his bedroom window and sees Beth struggling in the creature's leafy grasp. Another tentacle tries to get at him through the window. Greedy, greedy!
For the first time in this movie, one of the Maneater's prospective victims has sense enough not to stand there like an idiot and let it suck their blood out. I guess that's why he's a successful businessman. James bolts from his room. He bursts into the parlor, shouting "It's the tree! The tree!" Realizing von Weser must be responsible for his beloved Cora's horrific death, he immediately goes for Mitchell's throat.
David finally hears Beth's shrieks. He yanks a battle-axe from an armorial display above the fireplace and hot-foots it for the door, clearly intent on doing some major tree surgery. Von Weser tries to stop him, but James still has a bone to pick with the Baron. So the two of them wrestle while David hurries to Beth's rescue.
David frees Beth and proceeds to give the monster a more-than-judicious pruning. The crafty Baron maneuvers his opponent up against his powerfully paralyzing Porcupine Plant. Pricked by its toxin-tipped needles, James drops like a slaughtered steer. Von Weser takes the other battle-axe down from the display and frenziedly hacks the helpless millionaire to death with it.
Up to this point, I really haven't been buying Cameron Mitchell as the cool, cultivated Mediterranean aristo, but an ax-wielding maniac ... this I can believe. "He mustn't harm my plant!" cries von Weser. There's a surprisingly grisly closeup of James' ruined face as the Baron rushes off to save his darling monster.
David and von Weser go at each other with the battle-axes, while the storm rages and the wounded tree thrashes around and spurts blood from its severed tentacles. The Baron breaks the haft of David's ax, but David slugs him and he drops his weapon. The two indulge in a quick bout of fisticuffs, until von Weser gets hold of his ax again and swings at our hero. David dodges the stroke; the Baron inadvertently sinks the blade deep into the monster's trunk.
Von Weser realizes he's dealt his adored creature a mortal wound, and promptly forgets about David. In what surely must rank as horror cinema's most tender, heart-breaking death scene ever between a distraught mad botanist and his vampiric monster veggie, he embraces its trunk and implores it not to die. Then, seeing the creature is obviously on its last roots, the Baron sobs he's got nothing left to live for, and begs the tree to let him die with it. It fulfills his last request, gladly, with its remaining suckers. Cutaway to David and Beth, as von Weser screams horribly, then falls silent.
The camera pulls back to a crane shot of the Baron slumped against the tree, his face gruesomely disfigured, while the closing credits roll.
Wow. Compared to The Woman Eater's unremitting awfulness, at least I can honestly say the last ten minutes of this one were good, wholesome family entertainment.
So, what lessons can we draw from these two excursions to the fringes of the vegetable kingdom? For one thing, having a green thumb is all well and good, but if you find you're developing a "special" rapport with the carnivorous varieties you might be wise to exercise a bit of caution.
Especially since they require such a highly specialized diet. These films may make it seem like there are plenty of dunderheads out there who're almost tripping over themselves in their haste to get fed to your monster, but in real life procuring its victims will likely involve quite a bit more fuss and bother. (Even more so when these tidbits have to satisfy the insanely stringent tastes of a gourmand like the Woman Eater.)
If the deal in which some lost Amazonian tribe gives you a stump and an assistant for free and promises you that if you feed it enough nubile young women you'll be able to cheat Death sounds too good to be true -- it probably is. You should have a qualified legal professional draw up a contract, or, if a good lawyer is hard to come by in the trackless reaches of the Amazon, at a minimum you should ask for some testimonials.
And while some horticulturalists do recommend talking to your plant, if you've progressed to the point where you're seriously discussing a mutual-murder pact with it, it's probably time to step back and re-examine this relationship.