I am almost back on track. Actually, I probably could have written this review last night except for one problem; my brain was complete mush and refused to think. Oh well, I have four days to get back into the groove of things and get ready to finish out the year. First things first, Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Hopefully you are all enjoying some time spent with family and/or friends. Now before I head off to eat my fill of turkey, let me introduce today’s movie, The Leech Woman.
The plot: An elderly woman walks into the office of an endocrinologist named Dr. Paul Tolbot, who is busy arguing with his wife, June, in his examination room. After yelling at each other for a while, June sadly states that she is going to give Paul a divorce and Paul tells her to go ahead and have the lawyer start the paperwork. As June leaves the office, she is stopped by the elderly woman, who says she will never divorce her husband as he will die and give her a new way of life and June runs from the office, with the woman saying she saw June in her dreams of blood. Inside the examination room, the woman, Malla, claims that she is over 140 years old and tells Paul that she is a member of a tribe called the Nando and they have discovered the secret of reversing the aging process. She shows him proof and says she will give him the last of her drug, if he will help her get back to Africa. At the Talbot house, June is talking with their lawyer about the division of their assets when Paul comes in saying he has found the secret to eternal life. He makes plans to go to Africa and asks June to come with him, saying he will call off the divorce and she agrees. In Africa, Paul and June ask Bertram Garvay to take them to the Nando and when he agrees, they set out. As they near the tribe, June questions Paul’s actions as he has started acting cruel towards her and she soon realizes that he just brought her along to be a test subject for the Nando’s drug. June goes running off into the jungle, where she winds up being chased by a leopard, but Bertram kills the animal and takes her back to camp. Seeing a group of vultures nearby, they check it out and find a covered litter with Malla’s cane inside, and dead porters nearby and the guide claims they were killed by the Nando. They head back to their camp but find themselves captured by the Nando and taken to their village. At the village, Malla meets with them and shows them the secret to her old age, a rare orchid that grows in the area, then offers Paul the chance to see her become young again. That night, a ceremony is performed and they witness Malla become young again, by using a special ring to harvest secretions from a man’s pineal gland through the back of the neck. Paul asks Malla to make June young again but June refuses to take another man’s life. However, when Paul says she should do it so that he and Bertram can escape and bring help, June agrees but chooses to get her revenge by making Paul her sacrifice. Pretending to get a necklace as payment for Mall, Bertram is able to sneak some dynamite from their supplies to use for their escape. The ceremony is performed and June has regained her youth but while she is brought outside to show to the villagers, Bertram takes the opportunity to steal the orchid pollen and the ring. He then uses the dynamite to make his escape with June. However, after a few days the effects begin wearing off and June looks even older than before. Bertram runs from her but ends up falling into some quicksand and June uses the opportunity to use the ring on him and restore her youth. She flies back to the U.S., where she is met by her lawyer Neil and his fiance Sally, but she introduces herself as Terry Hart, June’s niece. Arriving back at her house, June begins to seduce Neil and the two wind up kissing, but when she notices her hands beginning to age, she pushes him out of her room and begs him to leave. After meeting with Neil, as June, to get her jewelry out of his safe, she goes out looking for a man to kill and ends up killing a man that was trying to steal her jewels. She sets up an evening with Neil, but Sally shows up at the house and tries to get June to leave at gunpoint but June uses the ring on Sally to kill her. Later, as she is spending the evening with Neil, the police show up to investigate the murder of a man who had June’s card on him. When they discover the body of Sally in the hall closet, June tries to explain her actions but notices she is beginning to age again. She locks herself in her room and uses the secretions from Sally, but they merely speed up the aging so she chooses to kill herself by jumping from the balcony.
I love classic sci-fi movies but sometimes, I do question the writing. The acting was decent. Coleen Gray (June) did a good job going back and forth between her normal old self and her younger “niece”, but nobody else really stood out. The plot sounded good but there were some things that just didn’t get explained properly or left unanswered. The jungle scenes had some funny moments, particularly when at the begininning. As they make their way through the jungle, they see elephants, lions, water buffalo and more but keep on going straight, but when they see a python in a tree…”let’s go around it”. They didn’t actually say that but that was the impression they gave. I also thought it was funny during a scene with some crocodiles when the animals kept going back and forth from being alligators and crocodiles. A decent movie but it had potential to be much better.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5