At the Explorers' Club in London, Dr Moran (George Coulouris) tells the other members about 'a tribe in the depths of the Amazon jungle' which has 'a miracle-working juju that can bring the dead back to life' and that he's going on an expedition to get it. He finds the tribe and witnesses a secret ceremony in which a young woman (Marpessa Dawn), entranced by beating drums, is consumed by a large carnivorous tree. Moran then nearly dies from 'jungle fever'.
Five years later, recovered and back in Britain at his manor house, Moran is experimenting with the tree. He has brought it and the tribal drummer, Tanga (Jimmy Vaughan), back from the Amazon. They kidnap a young English woman, Susan Curtis (Sara Leighton), and Tanga feeds her to the tree. 'She'll become a part of the plant. And from it I'll get the serum to bring the dead back to life. She won't have died in vain', declares Moran. However, the experiment fails. A dead heart into which Moran injects the serum revives, but dies again after a short time.
Police Sgt Bolton (Edward Higgins) arrives via bicycle to gently question Moran about the missing Susan. Moran denies any knowledge of her. That night, at the local Fun Fair, Sally Norton (Vera Day), is working at a sideshow, dancing the 'hula-hula' to attract customers. When she takes a break, Jack Venner (Peter Wayn), who has fallen in love with her at first sight, introduces himself. But when the sideshow barker (Harry Ross) tries to drag Sally back to the show, Jack bests him in a fistfight, which costs Sally her job. Jack suggests that she see Moran about becoming an assistant to Moran's housekeeper, Margaret Santor (Joyce Gregg). Moran gives Sally the job over the objections of Margaret.
After the suspicious Detective Inspector Brownlow (Maxwell Foster) questions Moran again about Susan's disappearance, Moran and Tanga extract more serum from the tree, although without a further sacrifice. Moran says that his English science can improve Tanga's juju, but Tanga is sceptical. Moran goes to London and picks up Judy (Joy Webster). Tanga feeds her to the tree, too.
Moran offers Margaret's job to Sally, telling her that Margaret is dead. Margaret and Moran had been lovers before he went to the Amazon. She still loved him, but Moran said that he was tired of her 'middle aged jealousies' over the younger Sally, whom Margaret has correctly guessed that Moran is in love with. Moran strangled Margaret when she tried to stab him.
Sally tells Jack that she's frightened of Moran and will quit the next morning. But Moran refuses to let her go and confesses his love for her. Sally is appalled. Moran locks her in his laboratory. When Jack comes to find her, Moran tells him that she's left. Jack and Moran argue about Sally's whereabouts, and Jack goes to the police with his suspicions. The police have new evidence about Susan's disappearance - a torn shred of her dress found near Moran's house - and they and Jack go off to confront Moran.
In the laboratory, Moran brings Margaret back to life. She starts to attack Sally but drops dead before she can do Sally any harm. Moran ponders this, saying, 'Only a body. No mind'. Then he yells at Tanga, 'Your people cheated me! They gave me only half the secret!' He can raise the dead, but the result is a mindless zombie. Tanga, hands on hips, says defiantly, 'Our secret not for you. The brain for us only'.
Tanga then tries to feed Sally to the tree but fails. Jack and the police arrive as Moran and Tanga struggle. Sally escapes with Jack. Moran hurls a vial of liquid onto the tree and, as it bursts into flames, flees. Tanga throws his knife, killing Moran, then kneels before the burning tree, worshipping it as it's consumed by fire.
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