Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2011-10-10 00:34

Directed by: Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by: Leo Gordon
Starring: Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers, Bruno VeSota & Dan White

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“You better quit drinkin’ that moonshine!”

In terms of bug/monster related horrors, I have always and will aways enjoy the classics. Vampires, ghosts and madmen will always triumph over giant bugs. As a by product of the times, I definitely see their cold war, environmental and nuclear infused social relevance, but they just don't live up to the romanticism or mystery of the traditional icons. Every once in a blue moon I get the urge to check out a cruddy piece of schlock involving nature gone amuck from the fifties and when I do, it's always AIP.

Something's gone wrong in the swamp; all the regular wildlife has vanished and locals have gone missing. True to tall tale, one local trapper saw some dag-gone beast and he even fired five buck shots into it, to no avail. In this case, the dim wit was telling the truth. Environmentalist and moonshine swillin' redneck philosophies collide when trying to come to terms with the finding and eventual destruction of the creature. Their search parties come up with nothing, but they're sure somewhere in the waters lurks a gigantic evil and boy, does it suck! The boys from the swamp got a plan, conservation officer be damned, and by golly, it's dyn-o-mite!

I never turn down the chance to check out a film from the very humble beginnings of drive-in giant American International Pictures. Attack of the Giant Leeches was one of their first and one of my first from the company, and I haven't forgotten it. In terms of cheesy camp classics, it's definitely up there and it makes you revel in just how right Roger Corman was when he convinced AIP to stop making these super low budget, black and white junk films and double up the budget to make one film with real drawing potential. Drive-in goers, count your lucky stars.

Save for one serious, heartbreaking scene, Leeches is all about laughing along with the movie as the predictable plot winds down and plays off all the cliches in the book. The main reason to watch these monsters Attack is to laugh at the garbage bag style "effects" and you'll without a doubt spend most of the film's short 60 minute running time giggling at the escapades of the hick characters; two of which actually go hunting for signs of man-sized leeches in a dirty old rowboat complete with jug of shine. That is, if you can take your eyes off the gorgeous blonde country bumpkin that's cheating on her man on the shores of the swamp. Hey, at least neither of these two guys "beat up on her" like the one she had previously.

The explanation behind the leeches becoming behemoth is hinted at, but never explained and there is a constant struggle between a conservation officer and the swamp town's residents over the use of harmful TNT due its effects on the habitat of all the creatures in the marsh. The underwater climax is a joke with divers shooting harpoons that can "take down a tiger shark", but it's all part of the fun. Look in any bargain bin and you're sure to find this one somewhere near the bottom with a multitude of different transfers.

Madacy's edition in their Killer Creature Double Feature line sports a full frame presentation that looks and sounds like you think it would for a couple bucks and includes a second feature, The Wasp Woman. It also sports a drive-in style presentation with trailers and an intermission cartoon that can all be watched together in a seemless nostalgic show. A fun piece of dumb schlock if there ever was one, Attack of the Giant Leeches is probably in your collection already and if so, why not dive in and test the waters? Everyone likes a little suck, no? Rent it!

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