MST3K
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For the episode, see MST3K 802 - The Leech Woman.

The Leech Woman is a 1960 American horror movie directed by Edward Dein. It was released theatrically on a double bill with the British film The Brides of Dracula.

Plot

Dr. Paul Talbot, an endocrinologist, is researching ways to make people look younger. Malla, a 140-year-old African-born woman who was kidnapped and enslaved in America, seeks him out and offers him her tribe's secret. It is a special orchid pollen that not only provides longevity, but also restoration of youthful appearance. In return, she wants him to pay for her trip home where she will soon die. He gives her the money and divulges her secret to his emotionally needy, dipsomaniacal, and somewhat aged wife June, whom he loathes.

Paul hires a guide to take him to Mala's village, and June goes along.

Young Malla

En route, June becomes angry when she realizes that Paul only wants her along so he can test the process on her. The crew is captured by Malla's tribe and taken to the village, where they witness Malla undergo a ceremony requiring the extraction of the pineal hormones of a tribesman by using a spiked ring. The process kills the tribesman, but upon mixing the fluid with the pollen and ingesting it, Malla becomes young again (though only for a brief time).

Old June

Malla offers the ring to June along with any man she desires for the necessary hormone, since the tribe intends to kill them all shortly. June accepts. Paul plans to escape, but June betrays him, choosing him as the man who will be sacrificed. She undergoes the procedure and is restored to youth. June and the guide then create a distraction and escape with the stolen ring and pollen.

The effect of the treatment is temporary and unpredictable, and June realizes she will need to keep killing men in order to stay young. She refuses to rescue the guide when he becomes trapped in some quicksand, hastily harvesting his hormones as he slides into the Earth.

Young June

Back in America, the late Dr. Talbot's nurse Sally is engaged to marry Neil, June's lawyer. June leverages her acquired youth to invent a persona - "Terry Hart" - the niece of June. She relentlessly pursues Neil, arousing Sally's ire. June continues to prey on unsuspecting me, killing them and harvesting their pineal juice.

Neil succumbs to "Terry's" wiles and decides to end his engagement to Sally. Sally confronts "Terry". In a struggle, June/Terry dispatches Sally with the ring, extracting her hormone. June leaves the body in a coat closet.

Even Older June

June has planned a social evening with the newly-available Neil. A detective arrives at June's home, investigating the murder of one of June's victims and he questions her. During a search, the detective discovers Sally's body. Crazed, June rants to the stunned assembly about the youth formula and attempts to demonstrate with Sally's pineal secretions. However, juice from a female does not work and June does not become youthful.

Realizing that she's lost everything and has killed Sally (and all the others) for nothing, June jumps from her second-story bedroom balcony. In death, her secret is revealed.

Cast

Notes

  • Universal (then Universal-International) made this film because they needed a second feature to play with their U.S. release of the Hammer production The Brides of Dracula (1960).
  • The African wildlife scenes were reused footage from Universal’s 1954 movie Tanganyika.
  • In the scene where June Talbot is walking past a bar, a Mambo song can be heard playing in the background. This song was also used in the movie Written on the Wind (1956), in which Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone danced to it
  • The nurse remarks that Old Malla looks like she came out of The Mummy's Tomb (1942), a Universal Monsters movie produced by Ben Pivar.
  • Estelle Hemsley and Kim Hamilton, who play the old and young versions of Malla, both died at the age of 81.
  • While the supposed problem with the marriage is that June is too old for her husband Paul, at the time the film was released, actress Coleen Grey was 37 and actor Philip Terry was 51.
  • Regarding the science in the film - The pineal gland is a about the size of a grain of rice and is located at the center of the skull. The ring would have to pierce the skull (which is made of bone) and penetrate five inches into the brain, unguided, to find the pineal gland.

References

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