1/11/07

802 The Leech Woman

(1960, Horror, b&w)

Old women are evil.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

A middle-aged alcoholic woman learns the murderous African secret of eternal youth.

Summary:

It's so embarrassing to have to report your own death.Poor June Talbot’s beauty has faded with the onset of middle age (as demonstrated by her bad eye makeup), provoking the disgust of her endocrinologist husband Paul. Finally, after going through years of emotional abuse and several thousand crates of scotch, she shows up at his office to tell him she will agree to a divorce. He is overjoyed at the news, liquors her up, and sends her home to get an attorney.

On her way out she runs into Malla, a tiny African woman of extreme old age who proclaims, “You are the one in my dreams of blood!” Understandably spooked, June hurries out of the office. Malla goes to visit Paul, who is apparently searching for a way to make old women young again. Malla tells him a tale of being abducted from Africa one hundred and forty years ago and shows him her precious vial of naipe, a powder that slows the aging process. In exchange for passage to her homeland, she will give him the naipe and introduce him to her people.

Paul rushes home to interrupt the divorce proceedings and profess his undying love for June. He takes her to Africa, where he hires a Great White Hunter named David to guide them through a maze of stock footage to Mala’s home. During the journey June realizes Paul has only taken her along to be his Secret African Youth Formula guinea pig. She flees into the jungle, narrowly avoiding being eaten by a leopard. David rescues her and brings her back to camp.

They find Mala’s litter, the corpses of her litter bearers, and then the tribe itself. The painted warriors imprison them. Malla shows them the source of the naipe (dried orchid) and shows them the other secret youth ingredient—human pineal hormone. The high priest stabs a sacrificial victim with a barbed ring to extract his juices. Malla mixes it with the naipe and voila! She’s young, beautiful, and almost a foot taller. She tells them that the effect is temporary, and she will die in the morning. Also, now that her part of the bargain has been fulfilled, the secret must never leave the tribe.

She offers to let June become young again before their execution. Paul takes her aside and asks her to accept, creating a distraction so that he and David can escape. June goes back to Malla and says she will accept if she is allowed to choose Paul as her pineal sacrifice. Paul is drugged and sacrificed; June drinks naipe and pineal juice; the smoke rises and clears; and June reappears, sans eye makeup, sporting a new hairstyle and a wonderbra.

David manages to get hold of some dynamite, which he uses to blow up parts of the village. He nabs the barbed ring and pouch of naipe, escaping with the young and amorous June. They make it most of the way back to the railroad before she turns old again. David flees from her terrifying “old” makeup and falls into quicksand. She refuses to save him until he gives her the pouch with the naipe and ring. Then she pulls him to shore and slices his pineal gland as soon as he’s in reach. She turns young while his corpse slides into the quicksand.

Back home, she introduces herself as June’s lovely young niece Terri by day, while by night she trolls seedy bars in the bad part of town, searching for pineal victims. She seduces her young and handsome attorney, Neil, to the consternation of his fiancĂ©e, Sally. Sally eventually shows up at June’s house to force her out of town at gunpoint. After a brief struggle, June kills Sally and takes her pineal juices.

Later, the cops interrupt a romantic interlude with Neil to ask about June’s growing list of victims. Apparently, she’s been rather careless with her business cards, accidentally dropping them at crime scenes. They search the house and find Sally’s body just as June begins to age. She runs upstairs to consume more pineal/naipe elixir, but alas, female pineal juice has the opposite effect of male pineal juice, aging her into a gaunt skeleton woman. She throws herself from the balcony in despair.

Introduction:

The cucumber slices are conducive to lawmaking.Mike tries to explain the premise of the show and their current predicament, but Crow is running the vacuum. More specifically, he’s running the “Varmint Vac,” specially designed as a humane method of removing prairie dog infestations. Mike wonders why such a thing would be necessary on a satellite, but Tom interrupts him to drive a herd of beefalo past the desk. A prairie dog pops out of the top of the Varmint Vac to wave hello.

Host Segment One:

Crow still can’t remember Mike. He also can’t remember anything about prairie dogs, beefalo, or intelligent apes on the planet below. Professor Bobo calls to ask Mike a number of person questions dealing with the prevalence of his body odor, and the number of moles on his skin. Dr. Peanut interrupts to espouse the marvels of diapers, roller-skates, and bow ties. At Mike and the ‘Bots’ urging, Bobo dons a diaper of his own and joins in the simian circus antics with a tutu and tricycle. Pearl arrives to put a stop to it, handing out baby wipes to everyone.

Host Segment Two:

Mike and the ‘Bots try to escape the planet, but the Satellite still isn’t fixed. Mike checks in with the nanite workers, who are on strike against their cruel nanite employers. After some standard union jargon, nanite preacher child Jody comes on to deliver a stirring speech: “It were after the union summer the prairie fire started. Some folk say it was set a-purpose, but I couldn’t hardly believe it. Mama told me just to mind myself…” The nanite bosses interrupt with tanks.

Host Segment Three:

Bobo interrupts Pearl’s facial to remind her that, as the lawgiver, she is occasionally required to give some laws. She thinks for a moment, and then dictates such laws as, “No parking on Sundays,” and “No soup with buffet.” When asked for suggestions, Tom says, “Underwear must be worn while trying on swimsuits,” and “Please do not try to touch the dancers.”

Host Segment Four:

Tom and Crow entice Mike to come upstairs and put his head in a pillory in exchange for an Adrienne Barbeau calendar. His contact lens displaces at the last minute, causing him to stand up before the pillory can slam shut and drain his pineal juices. Tom and Crow curse him for denying them eternal youth. Mike determines there is no Adrienne Barbeau calendar, and wanders off.

Host Segment Five:

Tom dresses up like Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies so that he can shout, “Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!” over and over again. He forces Mike and Crow to assume other Hillbillies roles at gunpoint. Eventually Mike wrestles Tom to the desk and slaps some sense into him. Tom says “Jed” in a normal voice a few times, and then relapses. Down on the planet, Professor Bobo manages a stuffy Boston accent and decries his earlier devolution while accepting brandy, watercress sandwiches, a pipe, and a diaper from his butler, Dr. Peanut.

Stinger:

Neil and the detective discuss June’s whereabouts.

Thoughts:

The evil endocrinologist and his aged 20-year-old wife.There are no sympathetic characters in this movie. Paul is, of course, despicable from the beginning. David isn’t much better, abandoning June as soon as she turns old again. Neil and Sally are too stupid and petty to be likeable. Even the poor, wronged June of the beginning is too boozy and pathetic to stir interest. I didn’t ever care about any of these people, and breathed a sigh of relief after the final inevitable death.

Of note, the stock footage of their journey through the jungle is badly stitched together. At one point our intrepid heroes are threatened by long shots of crocodiles which, when seen in close up, turn into alligators. Throughout, we are expected to believe that the Tanzanian Serengeti is visible from the rain forests of Congo. This is roughly equivalent to claiming the redwood forests are visible from Mount Rushmore.

My favorite host segment is the nanite strike, and of course, Jody the child nanite preacher (voiced by Mary Jo Pehl) is my favorite part of the strike. His speech is short and rambling, and for some reason, hilariously funny. The bizarre Varmint Vac/beefalo sketch comes in a close second. Sounding ape-like and upper crust at the same time seems like it would be extremely difficult, but Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson as Bobo and Peanut manage it well. Bill Corbett’s puppet work improves a lot in his second episode as Crow. On the other hand, Crow’s inability to remember Mike is getting old after only one episode. It gets in the way of the other, funnier jokes.

The film segments have some funny lines. When aged Malla comes to Paul’s office, Tom says, “It’s so embarrassing to have to report your own death.” When June’s unconvincing “old” make-up is removed for the initial youngening scene, Mike notes, “It’s made her like a week younger.” When old June wanders the bar trolling for victims, Crow says, “She’s leaving a slipstream of grandma pheromones.” Also, Tom shrills, “Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!” in an Irene Ryan voice whenever an old woman appears on screen. It’s a fun episode; worth watching at least once.