Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Attack of the Giant Leeches PosterYou ever have one of those days where you wish you could go back to bed and start it all over again like Bill Murray in that irritating Groundhog Day movie? I’m pretty sure that’s how Dave Walker felt in this movie about guys in black tarps harassing backwoods types. Dave is the lard ass who runs the general store that serves the tri-swamp area with all its food, bait, and gossiping needs.

Big Dave is married to Liz Baby (that what he calls her whenever she’s refusing to let him touch her), a hot little number played by Yvette Vickers.

You might remember Yvette from the July 1959 issue of Playboy or more probably you might remember her as the gal that a bunch of giant leeches kill in about fifty minutes.

Anyway, Big Dave not only has to put up with Liz Baby disrespecting him in front of all the general store regulars, but then discovers that she’s carrying on behind his back with Cal!

Oh Liz Baby! How could you? Wasn’t that quarter ton of fun, Big Dave, all the man you could have ever hoped for? All he wanted to do was rub his big sweaty belly all over your soft Liz Baby skin!

While Liz Baby is harping away about moving into town to get away from the monsters that are haunting the swamp, Dave’s just trying to load up a box of food for one of his best customers. Even when she throws a temper tantrum and starts knocking a bunch of stuff over in the store, he just turns the other cheek and goes off to make his delivery.

But a man can only take so much and when he sees his good buddy Cal making his own delivery to his own best customer at the most romantic spot in the swamp, well you can forgive Big Dave when he just goes a little CRAZY!

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Naturally, Cal informs Big Dave that it isn’t what it looks like, but if I was Big Dave, I’d be telling Cal that me waving a shot gun in his face while sputtering about betrayal and trampy behavior was exactly what it looked like!

Big Dave holds them at gun point and is fixing to put a good scare into them and chases them through the swamp. Well, as much as a guy the size of Big Dave can rumble and stumble through the swamp that is.

Wouldn’t you know it though, but right before Big Dave’s horrified eyes, something in the swamp attacks Cal and Liz Baby and the next thing you know, Big Dave is busy claiming the “real killers” are a bunch of mysterious creatures that are hiding out in the inky depths of the swamp.

I don’t think you actually have to watch the entire 62 minutes of this film to guess that the sheriff slaps the cuffs on Big Dave and not on the giant leeches.

One quick jail cell suicide later, we can finally get this story of overgrown bloodsuckers underway. With the demise of Big Dave, Liz Baby, and Cal, the movie’s most interesting characters disappear and we are left with your standard issue monster movie folks.

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There’s Steve Benton, the squarejawed conservation agent who’s determined to bring law and order to his swamps. He spends his days trying to catch poachers and defending all the critters of the swamplands from guys who have a hankering for otterburgers.

Steve also comes equipped with whiny girlfriend Nan Greyson. Nan may not be much in the looks department, but she’s not shy about voicing her opinion, regardless of how ill-informed, about how Steve ought to do his job. Usually, she thinks he needs to be doing it just like her daddy, Doc Greyson, says he ought to be.

Doc isn’t a bad guy. He’s just sort of obsessed with chucking a bunch of dynamite into the swamp to take care of whatever it is that keeps on thinning out the herd of locals. Every time Doc suggests it, Steve has to remind Doc of his solemn duty to protect all the life in the swamp.

Usually this is when Nan scowls and demands that her dad take her home because Steve is just a big poopy face. I kept waiting for Steve to say, “last time I checked you weren’t Miss July 1959, cheese grater face, so you can button your cakehole until further notice.”

The one word that kept coming to mind as the movie played out was, “rudimentary.” Everything about it seemed like it a rough draft for every monster movie made during the 1950s: Isolated area bothered by oversized animal menace while disbelieving locals get suspicious about the scientist/law enforcement from the big city before everyone realizes that there really is a bunch of giant whatevers on the loose.

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All the action in this movie though feels highly compressed which no doubt is because it’s a half hour shorter than most of these things usually are. Add in to that the fact that about one third to one half of it is devoted to Big Dave and his hussy wife and you can see why Steve Benton’s involvement seems quite rushed.

The giant leeches are as bad looking as you would expect, being guys covered in black material with some suckers sewn here and there.

They even try to work in the old “atomic energy might have caused it” angle at the very end during a clumsy scene where Doc explains his theory to Nan while Steve is down in the swamp trying to use a spear gun on these things.

The underwater scenes are distinguished by the fact that they were obviously shot outside of a big tank because you can see the reflection of the tank’s dirty glass in most of the shots. Couldn’t they at least have sprung for some Windex before beginning shooting?

Whether you find any of this worth your time will probably depend on your reaction when you see this credit on screen: “Executive Producer Roger Corman.”

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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