Rixflix A to Z: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1956)

Director: Bernard L. Kowalski // AIP; 1:02; b/w
Crew Notables: Roger Corman (exec. producer); Leo Gordon (writer)
Cast Notables: Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers, Jan Shepard, Michael Emmet, Tyler McVey, Bruno VeSota, Gene Roth
Cinema 4 Rating: 3

I will forgo the obvious temptation to make jokes about lawyers, politicians, ex-wives or corporations to instead offer praise to the filmmakers of Attack of the Giant Leeches for giving the viewer exactly what they promise. There are leeches in the film, and while they seem to be of a truly unrecognizable or perhaps undiscovered species, they are indeed giant. While not towering over a building like Starro would whilst fighting the Justice League of America, these leeches are still far bigger than your average, everyday leech, and certainly they are slightly bigger than the people they are attacking. Oh, yes... the leeches also do attack, thereby lending the truth to the title. To Bernie Kowalski and American International Pictures, thank you for giving us what you promised in the title: giant leeches attacking.

And then it becames a case of "Thanks, but no thanks." Despite their commitment to truth in advertising, the filmmakers fail in nearly every other aspect of bringing this attack to life. Except for the highlight of the film -- when the actors in the leech costumes are slowly sucking the blood out of the hapless citizens of this backwoods redneck town -- the film resorts to a sort of Tennessee Williams-lite motif, with a gorgeous cheating wife running about with half the town behind the back of her portly, "Baby Doll"-style husband. His itchy trigger finger leads to plenty of trouble, which in turn leads to all of the involved parties in the love triangle ending up as victims to the voracious invertebrates. To do this, though, they have to end up near or in the waters of the swamp, which they invariably do, along with various other townsfolk, and then the leeches get to feed unchecked.

Despite warnings from the heroic ranger who is putting the mystery of their disappearances together, it is decided that high explosives in the water are the way to blast the leeches to kingdom come. This may wipe out much of the life in the water, but it unfortunately still leaves us with a slow, monotonous film to crawl our way through. The heroics are stiffened by the lack of imagination on the part of the screenplay, and we, as an audience just wish they not only had more phony but oddly eerie scenes of costumed monsters feeding on blood, but that they had written an ending where the leeches prevail so we would be rid of this town full of boring losers. The final shot of a surviving leech which the filmmakers provide could lead to this very thing, but I need far more assurance that this swamp community will be wiped off the face of the earth.

Either that, or have Tennessee Williams grow to 50 feet tall and have him face off against a mass of giant leeches in a kaiju wrasslin' match to the death. The winner gets to suck the blood from their overprotective, smothering mother and then carry on a torrid love affair with the corpse of the portly, "Baby Doll"-style husband. Either way, let's see the filmmakers capture that succinctly in a title. I'm thinking "Leechy Nuts"...

Comments

matt Fosberg said…
"Leechy nuts, Leechy nuts oh Leechy, Leechy nuts...

Ba dum dum dump... LEECHY NUTS!"

HA!
Rik Tod said…
Anything to help bring back Andy's painful summer experience...

(And, for once, to capture the moment, I had to spell "lychee" incorrectly...)
matt fosberg said…
Just to be my usual helpful self, I'll point out that it could also be correctly spelled "litchi".

Heh....

Matt

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