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The Leech Woman

Svengoolie featured another horror classic last night: The Leech Woman.

Screenshot_2021-01-03 The Leech Woman (1960)

IMDB describes this movie thusly:

An endocrinologist in a dysfunctional marriage with an aging, alcoholic wife journeys to Africa seeking a drug that will restore youth.

Well, that barely scratches the surface! Therefore, let us explore the nuances and depths of this cinematic triumph.

Mala, an ancient African woman, answers an ad for research subjects from Dr. Paul Talbot, a renowned endocrinologist. He's trying to figure out how to prolong life, and she's well over 100 years old. She wants to make a deal with him - in return for paying for her to return to her tribe in Africa, Mala will give Dr. Talbot the secret to her youth. Paul recognizes a money-making opportunity when he sees one, so he agrees and fronts Mala the money. Mala tells him that it's all due to a special plant grown by her tribe, the Nando, which she's been taking. Not only that, if you mix the plant powder with another special substance, you can totally reverse the aging process, but that's only available in her village, so no go for you, Doc.

After Mala leaves, June Talbot, the doctor's older wife, shows up. He's totally over her because she's lost her good looks. She's become an alcoholic, because Paul doesn't love her anymore on account of she's lost her looks, wah wah wah. (Now honestly, this loss of looks is nothing that a good concealer and some mascara couldn't fix.) They have a big old fight and decide to divorce.

June goes home to hammer out the divorce details with her lawyer, handsome hunk Neil Foster. Meanwhile, the doc decides to follow Mala to Africa and get the goods - special plant and special substance - from the Nando. But! He needs a guinea pig to test it out, and who better than wrinkly old June? If it works, he gets the goods and a new, young, beautiful wife!

He goes to see June and gets all lovey-dovey with her and she falls for it. Off to Africa! The doc hires a sleazy guide, who warns them that the Nando are notoriously private and not nice to intruders, but what the hell, 20 grand is 20 grand.

Off they go, through lots of stock footage of elephants and crocodiles, to seek the Nando, except the Nando find them first and march them off to the village. Lo and behold, there's Mala, getting ready for her end-of-life ceremony, to wit: When a woman is aged and dying, she gets to take to extra-special age-reversing stuff, become young and beautiful, and enjoy one last night of  slap and tickle with the boys of the tribe. The stuff wears off the next day, and then bye! Our group is allowed to see the wondrous transformation, but they gotta die the next day too.

Just one thing. The magic ingredient is a drop of fluid from the pineal gland of a man. To get it, one unlucky guy's gotta go. The chief uses a special ring to strike the chosen one in the back of the neck, killing him. Mala drinks the special drink and bingo! She's now a gorgeous young woman! At this point, Joe and I burst into a rendition of Stormy Weather.) Before she heads out to party down, she tells June that she can have it too, with the understanding that she - and the rest of the safari party - will die the next day. And oh, by the way, she gets to choose the male sacrificial lamb.

Guess who she chooses? YES! Her husband, the doctor! Hah! Revenge is sweet. Sure enough, she transforms into a youthful beauty! Meanwhile, the guide filches the ring, the powder, and a bunch of dynamite, which they had apparently brought along, in case they needed to blow up some stock footage.

Anyway, he shows June  and make an escape, tossing dynamite into the village and basically destroying the Nando. Off they go, through more stock footage, to get to civilization. Unfortunately, June's looks wear off and the guide couldn't care less if she goes with him or not. Always with the cads! He leaves her behind, but slips into a pit of quicksand! He begs June to rescue him, but she's no dummy. She makes him give her the ring and the special powder first, then she lets him sink.

Fast forward to the airport in the USA! Neil and his fiance, Sally, have come to meet June. But instead of the elderly lady they're expecting, here comes a hot number who says she's June's niece, Terry. Terry (June) totally ignores Sally and puts the moves on Neil. They get to her house, but just as Terry (June) is about to seal the deal, her youth starts wearing off. She shoves Neil out the door and he drives off with Sally, who is not. happy. at. all.

June goes down to the bad part of town to find a new victim. She picks up a smooth-talking lothario outside a bar. He takes her to a make-out overlook, intending to rob her of her many diamonds, but he gets his pineal gland punctured instead!

Next day, Sally comes to have it out with Terry (June). She points a gun at Terry (June) and tells her to lay off Neil. Well! That doesn't work out at all, and she ends up getting the pineal puncture. Terry (June) shoves the body in the closet and just before Neil arrives with a marriage proposal. They make with a lip lock.

BUT HERE COME THE POLICE! They found June's calling card in the Lothario's pocket and would like a word with her. Off course, they find Sally's body in the closet, at which point Terry starts to revert to June! (I should point out here that every time the shit wears off, it leaves June older and uglier, because of course old equals ugly.) She runs upstairs and locks herself in the bedroom. As the cops and Neil break down the door, June throws herself out the window and crashes through the glass-topped patio table, dead as a wrinkled old gray-haired doornail.

The quest for eternal youth is a fruitless one, leading to murder, jealousy, and death. The end.

PS - No leeches were harmed during the making of this movie.

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