The Leech Woman 1960

Coleen Gray in a scene from The Leech Woman 1960
Coleen Gray in a scene from The Leech Woman 1960

The Leech Woman 1960 was the last unofficial Universal Horror, made to play alongside Hammer’s The Brides of Dracula. But the low-budget B&W horror paled in comparison with the colourful British vampire film.

Title: The Leech Woman
Release date: 7 July 1960
Director: Edward Dein
Producer: Joseph Gershenson
Screenplay: David Duncan
Story: Ben Pivar, Francis Rosenwald
Cinematography Ellis W. Carter
Makeup: Bud Westmore

Cast: Grant Williams, Coleen Gray, Phillip Terry, Gloria Talbott, John van Dreelen, Estelle Hemsley, Kim Hamilton, Arthur Batanides

Studio: Universal Pictures
Country: United States

The Leech Woman 1960 Review

The Leech Woman 1960 was created to run alongside Hammer Film’s The Brides of Dracula as a double bill in the US. These two films could not be more different.

The Brides of Dracula’s vibrant colour, brilliant set design and shocking adult content was something fresh. The Leech Woman on the other hand was stale. It could have been made any time during the 1950s, or 1940s for that matter. It’s B&W cinematography was little different to what you could have seen on television.

Directed by Edward Dein, The Leech Woman tells the tale of Dr. Paul Talbot (Phillip Terry)  who hates his wife June (Coleen) because she is no longer young and beautiful. And as a result, she has become a bitter alcoholic and doesn’t like him much either.

Dr Talbot is running experiments to work on a formula to rejuvenate skin and recreate the beauty of youth. 

One of his experiment volunteers is a wrinkly old woman (Estelle Hemsley) who claims to be 140 years old. She tells him that she was taken from an African tribe as a child with her mother, and given their ancient secret of eternal youth. Problem is that she was only given half of the formula, hence why she is wrinkly. If the doctor can fund her trip back to Africa she will discover the full secret – and give it to him.

Long story short. The Doctor takes his wife to Africa and with the help of a guide – is able to find the woman and her tribe. They watch in amazement as the 140 year old is able to transform herself back to a young woman. But it’s only temporary and someone has to die every time it happens.

This is where The Leech Woman is born and June goes through the regeneration and becomes mad in the process.

Despite the idea that The Leech Woman was sucking the life out of men was still dull. It couldn’t compete with the sex and horror of Hammer Horror.

The Leech Woman was the last unofficial Universal horror film of the classic era. It’s a sad end but it does retain all the hallmarks of classic horror with a mix of jungle adventure. As is always the case, the title is better than the film.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Leech Woman 1960

  1. Actress Gloria Talbott told an interviewer: “I made [The Leech Woman] because I wanted to buy a horse for my son… and The Leech Woman got him a really nice horse and saddle!”
  2. The interior set of the Talbot’s living room was also used in The Thing That Couldn’t Die 1958.
  3. The nurse, played by Gloria Talbott, says that Old Malla (Estelle Hemsley) looked like she came from The Mummy’s Tomb 1942, which was also produced by The Leech Woman’s Ben Pivar.
  4. Universal clearly obviously likes the name Talbot. Following from The Wolf Man’s Larry Talbot – The Leech Woman not only has a character named Dr Paul Talbot, played by Phillip Terry, it also has an actress by the real name of Gloria Talbott.
  5. The Leech Woman 1960 was Joseph Gershenson’s last film as a producer, but he continued as Universal’s Music Department head until 1969.

The Leech Woman 1960 Trailer

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