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Attack of the Giant Leeches

Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Film.

Film (1959; vt Attack of the Blood Leeches; vt Demons of the Swamp UK; vt The Giant Leeches). American International Pictures (US), Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors (UK). Executive producer: Roger Corman. Produced by Gene Corman. Directed by Bernard L Kowalski. Written by Leo Gordon from his original story. Cast includes Guy Buccola (uncredited), George Cisar, Ken Clark, Michael Emmet, Walter Kelley, Tyler McVey, Gene Roth, Jan Shepard, Ross Sturlin (uncredited), Bruno VeSota and Yvette Vickers. 62 minutes. Black and white.

In the Florida Everglades near the Cape Canaveral rocket base, alcoholic trapper Lem Sawyer (Cisar) sees a huge leech; no one believes his story. Game warden Steve Benton (Clark) stumbles across the lifeless body of Mike (Kelly), a local who had gone missing, now drained of blood and covered with puncture wounds seemingly made by large suckers. Steve discusses this with Doc Greyson (McVey), a Scientist who is the father of his girlfriend Nan (Shepard). Doc thinks some sort of Mutant marine life may be responsible, perhaps mutated by radiation from nuclear-powered rockets at the base. Meanwhile, overweight storekeeper Dave Walker (VeSota) has problems with his wife Liz (Vickers), who detests him and routinely engages in adulterous affairs. Catching Liz and her latest lover Cal Moulton (Emmet) together in the swamp, Dave forces them at gunpoint into the water, intending only a bad fright: they are grabbed by the titular Monsters (Buccola, Sturlin) and pulled underwater. Despite this story the Sheriff (Roth) naturally believes Dave has killed them; Dave hangs himself in his jail cell. After others go missing, Doc Greyson proposes using dynamite in an attempt to bring up the bodies; Steve at first opposes this. The huge leeches have taken their prey to an underwater grotto where they slowly drain them of their blood, until Doc dynamites the cove; the disturbance brings up several missing people, all dead. There is general agreement to set further underwater dynamite, at last killing the creatures.

Though often mocked, especially for the monster suits, Attack of the Giant Leeches is well done considering its budget, and the sequence where the leeches drain their victims in the underwater cave is nightmarish even by modern standards. The film somehow fell into the public domain and is widely available in home video releases. [GSt]


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