Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Massive Blood Sucking Monsters!

Alcoholic trapper Lem Sawyer sees a creature in the swamps but no one will believe him. That is until people start disappearing and local game warden Steve Benton gets involved. He searches the swamps and finds it inhabited by giant leeches, mutated by the local radiation at Cape Canaveral, and hungry for the taste of human blood.


Limping along in the doldrums of the ‘atomic monster’ movie decade, Attack of the Giant Leeches is a late entry into the field but is rightfully never even mentioned in the same breath as Them!, Tarantula or The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Even though the title monsters are hardly the size of houses like the aforementioned critters, they’re still a by-product of atomic radiation even if the film borrows more from Creature from the Black Lagoon than anything else. Produced by Roger Corman’s lesser known brother Gene and featuring some of the worst production values I’ve ever seen, Attack of the Giant Leeches sucks in more ways than one.

With horrendous underwater photography – the kind where someone shoots footage from behind a glass panel in swimming pool – and perpetually murky cinematography above ground, one of the first things that will grind on you is just how you’re meant to see anything here. A crackly soundtrack and plenty of scenes where no one actually says anything will have you checking your volume settings to make sure all of your speakers are plugged in. It is almost as if they dunked the microphones underwater with the cameras. I can understand that the production was a ‘lowest price possible’ sort of venture but still, there are certain levels of production that any film should have before they’re even considered for release. When visuals and audio aren’t up to scratch, it doesn’t bode well for anything else.

Maybe it’s best that you don’t see everything as well as you’d have liked. The title monsters look like stuntmen wrapped in bin bags with suckers taped to their faces. I don’t know whether the intention was to make them humanoid in appearance but that’s how they turned out, especially during a hilarious blood sucking scene in their cave domain. Hardly scary back in the 50s I’m sure, they look even more ridiculous in the 21st century. The leeches work slightly better when they’re partially concealed by the water but even this requires a fair dollop of disbelief.

The leeches never venture out of the swamp to attack so you won’t find any city-invasions or even threats to small towns like the rest of this sub-genre. In fact pretty much the entire film is based at the swamp – I counted a sum total of about three different sets used across the film. At a very slender sixty-two minutes, the film is almost over before it has chance to begin which is probably a relief more then anything – the leeches don’t even get called that until about three quarters of the way. The same characters seem to pass through the same bits of the swamp in a never ending circle. Above all the film is just so uninteresting and bland because there’s nothing to keep your attention. The countless scenes without dialogue and loads of characters on-screen who look and sound the same as each other mean you won’t have a clue what is going on for the best part and when you do, you won’t care. This is with the exception of the purposefully-slutty Yvette Vickers, starring in a rather suggestive role for 1959.


Attack of the Giant Leeches is wretched. Just plain and simply one of the worst films ever made. Even genre fans who like to punish themselves by subjecting them to the worst material available will be hard-pressed to find anything of enjoyment here.





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