Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Leech Woman (1960)

Starring Coleen Gray, Grant Williams, Phillip Terry, Gloria Talbott, John Van Dreelen
Directed by Edward Dein
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A cruel endocrinologist who has driven his aging wife to alcoholism brings her along when he learns of a drug that reverses aging in the African jungle, but she will soon turn the tables on him.

With a plotline remarkably similar to The Wasp Woman, Roger Corman's sci-fi shocker that also involved a woman who recaptures her beauty at a terrible price, this isn't a particularly good picture, but it is a fun one, with Gray revenging herself upon Terry, and stalking men in order to maintain her youthful beauty.  The makeup on Gray for both her aged and youthful selves is well-done and convincing, so that when her transformation does take place, it's striking and memorable, although masked by clouds of white smoke.  While Gray's not bad, Estelle Hemsley, as the ancient woman who reveals her secrets to Terry's sleazeball doctor, probably gives the best performance in the movie, projecting dignity and grace, something not present in any of the other characters.  Notable as the film that brought Universal-International's science fiction movies of the 1950s to an end, it doesn't compare to their earlier triumphs, but I still enjoy it.

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