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.
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, which is 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. En route, June (who "loves" Paul) becomes angry when she realizes he only wants her along as a guinea pig. 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 an unidentified tribesman by using a spiked ring, killing him in the process. She then mixes the fluid with the pollen and ingests it, making her young again (though only for a brief time).
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 turns the tables on 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 ephemeral, and June realizes she must keep killing men to stay young. She allows the guide to expire in some handy quicksand, hastily harvesting his hormones as he slides into the Earth.
Back in the States, Sally (Gloria Talbott), the late Dr. Talbot's nurse, is engaged to marry Neil, June's lawyer. June leverages her acquired youth to invent a persona - "Terry Hart" - the niece of June, and she relentlessly pursues Neil, arousing Sally's ire. Meanwhile, June cruises the bars and boulevards, harvesting the pineal juice of unsuspecting men.
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.
At the onset of an evening of debauchery June has planned with the now-unattached Neil, a detective arrives. He is investigating the murder of one of the men June has murdered (the hyper, hot-headed patient from The Unearthly), and begins asking questions. During a search, he 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. June does not become youthful, and, realizing she's lost everything and has killed Sally (and all the others) for nothing, she hurls herself off of her second-story bedroom balcony. In death, her secret is revealed.
- Coleen Gray as June Talbot
- Grant Williams as Neil Foster
- Phillip Terry as Dr. Paul Talbot
- Gloria Talbott as Sally
- John Van Dreelen as Bertram Garvay
- Estelle Hemsley as Old Malla
- Kim Hamilton as Young Malla
- Arthur Batanides as Jerry
- 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.
- The scene where June Talbot is walking the street in front of the bar, the same Mambo song in the back ground was also used in the movie Written on the Wind (1956), in which Rock Hudson & Dorothy Malone danced to it
- The nurse remarks that Old Malla looks like she came right out of The Mummy's Tomb (1942), a 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.