Ah, the public domain. You tend to find a lot of B-Movies there, ranging from classics ("Night of the Living Dead", "Messiah of Evil") and um, the terrible ("Manos: The Hands of Fate.") Anyways, it seems that several older Roger Corman titles have made it into the public domain, with "The Terror", "The Wasp Woman" and other "classics" (and actual classics like "Dementia 13" and "A Bucket of Blood") available for free, legal viewing. So, let's all take a look at one of these titles, the MST3K fave "Attack of the Giant Leeches", which was also produced by Rogers brother Gene.
Whilst searching for illegal weapons one day, Steve Benton (Ken Clark) and his girlfriend Nan Greyson (Jan Shepard) fine Lem (George Cisar) dying, with sucker wounds on him. Meanwhile, Liz Walker (Yvette Vickers) is in a bad way with her tubby husband Dave (Bruno VeSota), and is having an affair. Well, Dave catches them in the act, and what do ya know, they get taken off by the titular leeches. Can Benton save the day?
Nothing spectacular or particularly good, "Leeches" is amazingly enough a watchable little B-Movie from the days in which exploitation was regulated largely to cheap creature features. The cinematography and direction are actually well done, with TV veteran and Corman regular Bernard L. Kowalski capturing a steamy atmosphere of adultery and cheap, campy thrills. Also worthy of note is Alexander Laszlo's catchy score, which comes complete with old monogram style organ, and some minor bloodshed (dig those drained bodies.) Best of all is Vickers-the "50 Foot Woman" herself-as the backwoods floozy. She delivers her lines with plenty of sleazy conviction, and isn't afraid to laze around in her bra and panties whilst rubbing lotion on her legs.
Sadly, the same can't be said for leading man Clark, whose the only bland actor in the movie (though ladies and gay men will be happy with him going about without a shirt on.) The ending is also pretty lousy, and just feels too sudden, as in "that's it, the monsters are dead, movie's over!" sudden. Then there's the leeches themselves. Whilst the idea of giant leeches is a creepy one, the damn things look way too goofy for their own good, and are pretty much nothing more than guys in giant trash bags with fake suckers attached to them. There's a reason why they are included in the goofy movie monster hall of fame.
Still, this is an okay time waster, and while I certainly didn't love it (I prefer the MST3K version), nothing in it made me angry. It's fine for a viewing on your computer-and remember, it's free.