Thursday, 3 February 2011

So Long, Suckers [Review: Attack Of The Giant Leeches]

Roger Corman has directed or produced several hundred films - all but a handful of which have turned a profit. Sci-fi horror with a side serving of cheese is pretty much the order of the day but there are Corman films in all genres and at all budget sizes, and he's worked with some of the greatest actors and actresses in each generation. Over the years has Corman either lost his touch or become too serious? I'm not sure - I think I'll just watch Sharktopus then I'll let you know. Corman's IMDb entry is here.

You made it back? Great. The Giant Leeches (also released as Attack Of The Giant Leeches, and as Demons Of The Swamp) was produced by Roger Corman in 1959.

The plot could have been scribbled on a stamp still leaving room for the postmark. An alcoholic poacher in a Florida village comes across a mysterious creature hiding in the 'glade swamps. He fails to kill it, and no-one believes him until the disappearances start - and bodies begin to appear with mysterious holes in their necks. The origin of the monsters? In a brief and obvious expo-dump the characters speculate about nuclear rockets being launched from nearby Cape Canaveral and leading to mutations and gigantism in local species. The moral? Every American's God-given right to enjoy the innocent pleasures of dynamiting lakes.

The worst thing about this film? The leeches. They suck. You might say that back in 1959 audiences would be petrified by the sight of two men (Guy Buccola and Ross Sturlin) in pantomime leech costumes. You might. But I wouldn't believe you. Audiences who would have been exposed to The Thing From Another World* (1951), War Of The Worlds (1953), Tarantula (1955), Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers (1956) or even The Blob (1958) would know a real scare when they saw one, and would surely have laughed themselves silly at the sight of these suckers.

The best things about this film? The Everglades make for a truly creepy setting, and the absence of alligators is a nice touch. Most of the performances are hammed up but there's a pretty good turn from Jan Shephard as Nan Greyson, the prim and proper daughter of local doctor and scientist Doc Greyson. There's some truly gruesome leech victim make-up too. Ultimately this film is fun in places, unwatchable in others, and there are more unintended laughs than intended scares. One for the dedicated Rogercormanologist only.

*Strictly speaking, audiences who had been exposed to The Thing From Another World would be either feeding on the flesh of their fellow filmgoers or becoming increasingly paranoid as they try to work out who are the imposters in the surrounding seats.


asherdresner said...

This is probably my favourite of your reviews so far. Just sayin'.

PillowNaut said...

LOL, that is definitely one of the funniest yet. When I hit your site today and just sa\w the title, I though... oh wow, someone made a movie about my friends from college!!

But no. Actual dudes in leech suits. That's hilarious. "The plot could have been scribbled on a stamp still leaving room for the postmark" -- Can I use that remark the next time Bruce Willis makes a film? Any film.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Asher - thanks!

Pillownaut - thanks too! actually I was hoping you could give me the inside scoop on NASA's Giant Animal Generation project - didn't they have something to do with "Spiders" too?

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Pillownaut - the plot of "Die Hard 2 - Die Harder" was indeed scribbled on a postage stamp leaving room for the postmark. The stamp was accidentally mailed by a member of the film crew and is now in the vault of a private collector in Japan. Luckily Bruce still had a certain Starbucks napkin covered with the plot of the first Die Hard to fall back on.

PillowNaut said...

LMAO, you are too funny... as for NASA's project, wow, they must have been collaborating with William Shatner on that one. Yikes :p