Thursday, September 20, 2012
Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
Who's in it?: Ken Clark (South Pacific); Yvette Vickers (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman); Jan Shepard (a couple of Elvis movies: King Creole and Paradise, Hawaiian Style); Michael Emmet (Night of the Blood Beast); Tyler McVey (Night of the Blood Beast); Bruno VeSota (Dementia)
What's it about?: Giant leeches. Attacking.
How is it?: Pretty uninspired for the most part. The main characters are a game warden (Clark), his girlfriend (Shepard), and her scientist father (McVey) who are investigating a report of strange animals attacking a poacher in the Everglades. The warden and scientist do most of the investigating; their girlfriend/daughter mostly makes sandwiches and takes daddy's side over a plan to dynamite the swamp in order to destroy the unseen creatures. She's a horrible character not because she sides with her father, but because she's never allowed to express why she does. She comes across as nothing more than Daddy's Girl, so I lost all interest in whether or not Clark could repair his relationship with her.
As far as the two men go, though, their argument's one of the high points in the movie. It's not just a single conversation, but an ongoing discussion about ecology that goes through the whole story. Clark feels his main responsibility is to the environment; McVey is mostly concerned with saving human lives. Each man respects the other's opinion, but doesn't waver in his own convictions. I love stories that present both sides of a conflict equally well so that I have to think about which side I support.
A second thing to like about the movie is a subplot around a local business owner (VeSota), his wife (Vickers), and one of his customers/friends (Emmet). VeSota is a big, fat guy who wants to look tough in front of his pals, but sultry Vickers is bored with swamp life and resents her husband for keeping her there. She spends most of her time playing loud music in the bedroom in the back of VeSota's store and inspiring lust in his customers, especially Emmet. There's a steamy, Southern gothic feel to this part of the plot and it gets extra interesting when Vickers and Emmet go missing. The audience knows whether VeSota or the giant leeches are responsible, but the authorities (who mostly disbelieve the poacher's report) don't.
The last good thing I'll say about Attack of the Giant Leeches is about the completely ridiculous monster suits. They're classic in their badness, which makes them a lot of fun.
If I'm honest though, all of that is me grasping for something to like about the movie. It's mostly just people running around the swamp looking for monsters and occasionally being attacked by them. At only 62 minutes, it's still a little long.