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. It was riffed in episode 802.
PlotEditDr. Paul Talbot, noxious endocrinologist, is researching ways to make people look younger. Mala, a 140-year-old African-born woman who was kidnapped and enslaved in America, seeks him out and offers him her tribe's secret (special orchid pollen) of not only longevity, but also restoration of youthful appearance. In return she wants him to pay her way back 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, and hires a guide to take him to Mala's village. June goes along.En route, June (who "loves" Paul) goes ballistic when she realizes he only wants her along as a guinea pig. The creepy Caucasoid crew is captured by Mala's tribe and taken to the village, just in time to witness Mala undergo a ceremony requiring the extraction of the pineal hormones of an unidentified tribesman by using a spiked ring, killing him in the process. (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, of course, is made of solid bone) and penetrate five inches into the brain, unguided, to find the pineal gland.) She then mixes the fluid with the pollen and ingests it, making her young again. (It only lasts for a short time, which turns out to be a bit of a wrinkle.)
Mala offers the ring to June along with any man she desires for the necessary hormone, since the tribe intends to whack them all shortly, anyway. She accepts. Paul plans to escape and "get help", but June turns the tables on him, choosing him as the man who will be sacrificed. (He doesn't protest his fate much, perhaps realizing that death is a small price to get away from June.) She undergoes the procedure and is restored to the bloom of youth. June and the guide then create a distraction (they throw sticks of dynamite around, displaying the custom of their people, depraved indifference to human life) and escape with the stolen ring and pollen. The effect is ephemeral. June realizes she must keep killing men to stay young, and 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 the fiance of Neil, June's feckless lawyer. June leverages her acquired youth to invent a persona, "Terry Hart", niece of the woman formerly known as June, and she relentlessly pursues the personality-free Neil, arousing Sally's ire. Meanwhile, she cruises the bars and boulevards, conning men for their sweet, sweet pineal juice.
Neil succumbs to "Terry's" wiles and decides to propel Sally footwise to the pavement discontinuity, you might say. Sally confronts "Terry", aiming to run her out of town with the aid of a Saturday night special; in a struggle, June/Terry dispatches her with the ring, extracting her hormone. (By this time, a glancing swipe across the side of the neck is enough to smash, in less than a second, through the hair, scalp, skull and soft tissues to the center of the brain, bloodlessly and with robotic accuracy. The victims don't even cry out in pain.) She leaves the body, a bit carelessly, I rather think, in the coat closet.
At the onset of an evening of debauchery June has planned with the now-unattached Neil, a detective arrives, investigating the murder of one of the men June has murdered (the hyper, juiced-up palooka from The Unearthly), and begins asking questions. During a search, he discovers Sally's lifeless body. Crazed, June rants to the stunned assembly about the youth formula and attempts to demonstrate with Sally's pineal secretions; alas, juice from the female does not work (or maybe, like insulin, it loses its effectiveness if not refrigerated). She does not become youthful, and, realizing she's lost everything and (maybe) has killed Sally (and all the others) for nothing (or at least, not the payoff she expected), she hurls herself off of her second-story bedroom balcony. In death she reveals her secret.
- 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.