The Leech Woman
Starring: Coleen Grey, Grant Williams, Phillip Terry
DIR: Edward Dein
Blurb: An endocrinologist in a dysfunctional marriage with an aging, alcoholic wife journeys to Africa seeking a drug that will restore youth. -- Spoiler warning applies
Scene 01: We open on an old woman, hunched over and with cane, walking down a hallway. She reaches the door to the office of Dr. Paul Talbot and lets herself in.
Scene 02: In Paul's private office/laboratory, he's offering a glass of something to a woman sitting archly at his desk. She refuses and he makes a snide comment about how unusual it is to see her sober at this hour of the day.
She replies that if he's attempting to humiliate her, she'd gotten past that long ago. She further intimates that they're unhappily married and that she already knows that her feelings for him are far more than he returns. She so much as admits that she crawls in the bottle just to get some sort of attention from him.
They share some more dialog about the state of their relationship, each dripping condescension and derision. When he tells her that she tries to hide how awful she is as a person behind whiskey fumes (while he recognizes and accepts that he's a contemptible person), she decides to have that drink afterall and goes straight to his cabinet where he keeps a bottle of whiskey.
June tells Paul that she's decided to give him a divorce, but does so in as self-pitying a way as possible. We also find that June is 10 years Paul's senior and she now decides that he never did love her at all, and was only after her wealth for his experiments.
Commentary: See, this is the difference between some movies and others. Ordinarily, you may expect me to start complaining that this scene is going on too long and that these people are awful and that I want to get onto the monster ... and I certainly would if it wasn't for these particular actors. They're both delivering this scene with solid acting and are playing very well off one another, allowing the scene to continue longer than what might be expected to be tolerable if the actors were less talented.
Paul is just as relieved as June to be facing a divorce proceeding and urges June to go home and call their attorney to start the proceedings immediately. He does give in to June's plea for "one more for the road, just enough to be numb". As June leaves, Nurse Sally comes in to announce the arrival of old woman.
Scene 03: Nurse Sally and Paul discuss his experiments, in which he's advertised for old women. He's working on a youth serum, you see. Sally mocks the old woman waiting for looking like she came out of a tomb. Something about this visitor has given Sally a case of the creepers. Paul, obviously referring to his wife, replies that old women always give him the creeps.
Scene 04: In the doctor's outer office, the old woman sits waiting in the background while June speaks over the phone to family attorney, Neil. It becomes obvious that June was there to make one last effort to save things with Paul, but since he had no interest in this at all - her hopes have been dashed.
The old woman overhears her conversation.
As June goes to leave - finally - the old woman stops her to tell her that she'll never divorce her husband, because he's going to die. She goes on to babble that his death will give her new life. June, understandably, is freaked out by this woman and rushes out of the office.
The Old Woman gives her a parting gift by also telling June that she's the one that the old woman saw in her dreams of blood.
Scene 05: In the office, the old woman has just gone through a physical exam. Paul is amazed by just how old his examination of her blood and teeth (!?) are showing her to be.
The doctor tells the old woman that he's almost ready to believe her claims about how old she is, which is north of 140. She claims that she has learned many secrets from her mother that the doctor would be interested in.
The old woman tells him that she is a member of a tribe in Africa that she thought had died out, but for her. However, recently she had found that more members of her ancestry had survived. She wishes to go to them, but doesn't have the money. She wants Paul to pay for her return, and in exchange she will give him the secrets to reversing age.
Commentary: You'd think Paul would give her the once over and bring up that the secrets don't appear to have done her a lot of good....
The old woman retrieves a case from her coat which contains a powder. She tells Paul that it has allowed her to retard the aging process enough to live to her extreme age. She also tells him that this substance, when mixed with another, can actually de-age a person. But, she doesn't know what the second agent is, as this is a guarded secret known only to the high priests of the tribe. This is why she must return, or she will continue to degrade and die.
Paul, naturally enough, calls bullshit and tells her she can go. She tells him that she can demonstrate the power of the herb. She takes four pinches with a glass of water and tells him that after a few minutes his (unspecified) tests will actually show him that the aging process has been slowed again since her first set of tests.
Scene 06: Back at the Talbot home, June is sitting at the home bar getting more drink on. She's also meeting with her lawyer, who is watching her boozing herself up. When she seems to be in a numbed place, they start going through the family assets.
Commentary: The lawyer is played by Grant-effing hot-Williams. I fell in insta-love with him the moment I saw him in The Monolith Monsters, and my ... uh... admiration... for him only grew during his shirtless scene in the beginning of The Incredible Shrinking Man. Both of these movies are available on the 'Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection' -- Jeezus, unwieldy title much? Both of these will be getting their day in the reviews sooner or later, but I can tell you I recommend both, especially Shrinking Man.
June embarrasses herself mercilessly by first calling herself old trash and then desperately grabbing onto her lawyer, Neil Foster, as he tries to leave. June brings up the creepy old lady, but of course Neil has no clue what she's talking about.
Hubby comes home to break up this scene, and tells Neil he's glad that he's there. Neil explains that he's representing his wife in the divorce proceedings, so Paul should hire another attorney, but Dr. Paul poo-poos all of this and tells Neil there isn't going to be a divorce. He's all excited over the remarkable properties of the life prolonging magic spice the old lady shared.
Paul is beside himself with glee over the magic spice and shares to his bewildered companions the tale of the 152 year old woman in his office that day. He reports that the spice is actually some form of heretofore unknown hormonal compound.
Paul makes up with June as Neil slips out to leave them to their reconciliation. Dr. Paul tells June he wants her to go to Africa with him to investigate and secure this compound (and since he's a snake, it isn't hard to figure out he just wants her to be young and hot again).
Scene 07: We pan across a forest, as we transition to Africa. We fade into a room in which a British Colonialist explains that he knows the tribe that the Talbots seek.
Our new character is a guide, but he explains that the government has issued strict orders to leave the Nando be, as they have a deep hatred for Europeans (well, y'know, it's kind of hard not to respect that considering....) and are, naturally, "savage".
The guide, Bertram, knows that Paul is seeking the legend of the substance to retard aging and at first declines as it certainly doesn't exist. But, Paul's money is quite persuasive. Bertram mentions that Malla, the old lady that kick started this whole thing, passed through days ago. Paul tells Bertram that she could be the friendly face to get an introduction to her tribe.
Scene 08: Fade into the party traveling along the banks of a river. We quickly cut from stock footage to a set, of course.
Bertram points out more stock footage along the way, such as the mighty elephants... one of which is charging at something and roaring like King Kong ... who knew? The elephant is also able to shrink in size, at which point is sounds more like an elephant we would be familiar with.
We see a pointless monkey checking out the party...
More elephants... wildebeest...
Different type of monkey checking them out...
A python high in a tree, which apparently is menacing because Bertram make everyone take an alternate path... we all know how those pythons are able to leap from trees to attack random travelers. Bertram gives the snake stink-eye - because we also know from scientific study that pythons are able to move at high rates of speed, unexpectedly.
Scene 09: Travel, travel... stock footage crocs splashing into the water on the far bank.... Yeah, yeah... move on.
June reaches out for her husband, who not so subtly steps away from her, as he is a gold digger who needed her to finance this expedition and doesn't actually love her.
Despite the hippo we see and all of the croc footage, everyone blithely wades across the river anyway without hesitation. Now, while I might expect stupid white people to do this, I am surprised by Great White Guide and the bearers doing so.
Hippos, crocs, hippos, crocs... a snake is in there, but it isn't close by... hippos, crocs....
Commentary: I was sure we were going to lose a load bearer or two here, but no. They cross without incident, despite the threat of stock footage crocs swimming toward the group.
Scene 10: That night, they've made camp. Lion... hyena....
Paul and Bertram are going over a map. The carriers are briefly upset by some vultures making extremely unvulture like hawk-cries in a hideous day-for-night stock footage shot.
Bertram soothes those silly nervous-natives and turns in for the night.
Scene 11: In their tent, June tries to make a little romance time with Paul, but he tells her to turn in for the long journey the following day in as cold and bored a manner as possible, so that she twigs to the fact that maybe he isn't actually in love with her again, despite his claims at the house.
June whines. Paul tries to leave. June demands to know why he wants to make her miserable. She threatens to leave with the majority of the carriers the next day (they're being released because they're at the end of the trip to the tribe). Paul soothes her with forehead kissing and explains how important she it to this journey.
Paul is again utterly lacking in any sensible pretending to care about her, pointing out he wants to make her young and beautiful again, like when they first met. Obviously, this hurts and angers the tragically co-dependent June.
Commentary: June is supposed to be quite a bit older than her husband, you see. So, obviously Paul wants her to be young and hot-to-trot before he gives up some lovin' to her again. I want to berate June, but I just can't. The poor woman is kind of pathetic, but believe me - I know how easy it is to just want to be with somebody you love badly enough to put up with crap that you really shouldn't. And, Coleen does some nice acting as the self-hating wife which makes her more tolerable than she otherwise would be.
June throws a fit about being used as a human guinea pig and runs off into the jungle in her robe and PJs.
Bertram comes out to see what the commotion is, and Paul explains that June has run off....
Scene 12: Threatening stock footage hyena... threatening stock footage leopard... June runs and runs... Bertram sends the carriers looking for her back to camp, so he can play the big hero. The stock footage leopard apparently sees June, because it suddenly makes a dash... she runs on oblivious.
Run, run... run, run... run, run... run, run... Stock footage Chimp calls out warning... June gives small scream... Bertram casually walks in direction of scream.
Stupid-June trips over her feet, as women are wont to do when they're afraid. Thankfully, Bertram is able to shoot the leopard before its stock-footage-ness can get close to stupid-clumsy-June.
Bertram comforts her.
Commentary: Yes, this was all relatively pointless. And yes, he should have told the idiot the next time she fights with her husband, she might want to avoid running off wildly into the "jungle" around her.
He escorts her back to camp.
Scene 13: Bertram and June sit at a table, while Paul sits near the tent in the background. They note the not-sounding-like-Earth-vultures-vultures in that hideous day-for-night stock footage. Because, as we've learned from movies before and after this, Africa is absolutely crowded with stock footage animals. You can barely walk a foot without tripping over the damned things.
Bertram decides they need to take a look.
They spot a lion carrying a rib cage and consider shooting it, but thankfully don't.
Paul spots something off in the distance a bit, and the party head off to check it out too -- in the African Jungle -- in the middle of the night -- which is strangely well lit in a way that doesn't look at all like moonlight.
Commentary: Oh, Come On!! This has nothing to do with the Nando tribe and the fountain of youth that is supposed to introduce a Leech Woman (which, spoiler - is a complete misnomer, by the way).
Scene 14: They find Malla's box on two poles where four guys carry the person inside (I'm drawing a complete blank on what this is called at the moment, and Google is providing too many search possibilities to go through them). It has been abandoned, and Malla's cane was left behind.
The party find one of Malla's carriers lying on the ground a short distance away with an arrow in his chest. June cries out, and we find that the rest of her carriers are a few feet away, also dead and also with arrows in them.
Bertram is disturbed that the bodies haven't been dragged away by scavengers and realizes that something has been scaring the animals away.
He calls out for their head load bearer native guy, that he already sent back to camp with the other two we ever see in close up ... so why it's coming as a shock that there isn't a response, I don't get.
Commentary: Also, through all of these scenes with our actual actors, there are only three natives. And the camp is extremely small. In the stock footage shots, there were like 20, so they should have a mini-tent city going on. And, none of this matters -- this is about a monster, not a jungle adventure flick, dammit!
So, Bertram keeps calling for Nadu, but continues to get no response. He orders his clients back to camp.
We see a native with a spear spying on them from the forest....
Scene 15: When they reach camp, they find signs of a quick retreat. For some reason, the bearers chose to tip things over and rip one of the tents before exiting.
Commentary: And no, it doesn't look like a scene you'd expect if 20 people started grabbing supplies in a rush and then ran off... three? Sure. Twenty or so? No.
Paul asks Bertram what they should do, since they've been abandoned by their supplies carriers. Bertram tells him they don't have many choices, as the spear native comes out of the jungle. Paul lifts his rifle, but Bertram warns him against any hostile actions, explaining that 1) the guy won't be alone (which is quickly proven correct) and 2) they'd already be dead if that is what the new native's intentions were.
Our threesome's (Ew! Not like... actually... no, no, ew.) supplies are quickly snatched up by the newcomers. They're taken hostage and bound by the wrists and marched off.
Scene 16: In the morning, they've been marched into a village composed of native adults who have stock-footage children.
They're shoved with a lot of yelling into a hut.
Scene 17: Native drums and dancing, dancing, dancing while our *cough*heroes*cough* await their fate.
Scene 18: Finally, Malla is escorted out of her hut and we see we're in the Nando tribe's village.
Commentary: Whoa, hold the f* up! S-so... that means that the tribeman killed their own when they grabbed Malla from her carrier thingie?! O-or, she hired some guys that weren't members of her tribe, and then her own people showed up and killed them and then forced the old lady to march all the way back to the village instead of carrying her in the thingie?! W-why didn't they just wait for her to arrive, and then kill off the "foreigner tribe guys"?! I-I don't get it. Malla appears to be treated with respect, but forcing her to march all night like our protagonists seems awfully hard on her considering how slowly and with difficulty she's doddering.
Malla is escorted to the prisoner-hut. Paul espies her through a perfectly circular hole in the hut and tells the others that she'll help them. Bertram is less sure of this.
Malla greets her visitors/prisoners and explains that the orchid she carries is the source of the magic spice, which turns out to be pollen. Paul offers her people whatever they want in exchange for the one plant she carries and permission to leave freely. Malla points out that she has a greater secret to share ... that she will that night be made young again. It is the tradition of her people for the elder women to be given a brief re-youth before the effect wears off and they die.
Paul expresses excitement that such a thing might be possible. He of course agrees to stay for this momentous event and then asks if she'll sell him the orchid and allow them to go at that time. Malla is uncomfortably silent on this.
Scene 19: Stock footage drumming and dancing (children present) and stage drumming and dancing (kids vanish!) takes place all that day.
Commentary: And, as expected, this goes on long beyond establishing mood and well into padding.
Scene 20: Our white folk are marched to Malla's hut to the native version of 'watermelon-watermelon' yelling.
Commentary: You'll note that our village population has drastically shrunk and all of the kids vanished again.
Scene 21: In the hut, a man struggles (lamely) against his captors as he's knelt over a pot of smoke ... kind of like bees, he's settled down so Malla can deliver a speech about how unfair it is that men gain prestige with age, while women just get old and gross.
Preach it Sister-Girl! Oh, wait, I'm a guy... never mind, you whiner!
Malla's observations strike a chord in June. As the trio watch, a high priest has the prisoner's face shoved in the smoke pot, drugging him out. He then opens a skull bowl and pulls out a ring with a wicked looking hook on it. This hook gets plunged into the back of his neck:
Dr. Paul reports that they've pierced a gland deep in the cerebellum...!! From the lower back of the neck?!?
So, I'm thinking not... unless the back of his skull is really riding low.
Anyway, somehow, piercing the back of the guy's neck, rather than the back of his skull still allows a few droplets of clear pineal fluid to transfer to the ring without any nasty ol' blood at all. This is the secret ingredient, you see, to reverse time for the Nando women for a brief amount of time before it ultimately turns fatal. They get to use this remaining time to get down with the men in the crowd.
Dr. Paul is obviously excited by the prospect of carrying this secret back home, but Malla puts the kibosh on that plan. She tells the three of them that the secret will never leave the village. They are to be executed as soon as she dies. Overnight, they're granted anything they wish save freedom.
Paul's mind immediately turns to making June young... apparently unbothered to discover he's about to get kacked unexpectedly as long as he can get some young wife tail first. Malla grants that June can be changed to her younger self, but she must choose the man who will be killed for her.
June at first refuses, but Malla leaves them so June can really think on this opportunity. Paul immediately pressures her into taking this chance, so that he and Bertram can escape and come back for her the following day. June is appalled that he'd so readily abandon her, but decides that it is their only plan to live. He goes to tell Malla that she's changed her mind.
In a shock to no one except Paul, June chooses him as her sacrifice, turning the tables on him for all of his abuse and selfishness.
After Paul is led away to be drugged up, Bertram "reminds" June of the expensive gold necklace that she had him hide to keep safe. This is, of course, a ploy to allow Bertram to come up with a sneaky plan to escape and rescue Paul and June, which Malla falls right into.
Scene 22: Bertram gets a necklace in June's luggage along with a hand mirror as gifts to Malla, but he also stuffs his shirt with dynamite sticks under the nose of his guard.
Scene 23: Paul gets his face shoved in the pot o' smoke and drifts off into drugged bliss and very quickly killed off by the medicine man. Bertram does not bother to speak out against this or to do anything at this time, except watch as June takes the drug and turns young again. This apparently makes Bertram just as happy as it makes June.
Commentary: Ew. I'm really not liking the message, here. I mean Paul was an exploiter and a con man and treated his wife like crap, but his banal bad guy wasn't exactly a murderer-rapist or anything. And, June's decision to kill him seemed more vengeful and petty than ruthless decision to survive. His murder here is wholly unjustified within even movie morality. And, I'm finding Bertram being all grin-y at June's sudden youth to be rather tasteless and repugnant.
Bertram and June have a few moments, where he shares his plan to start dynamiting the place to get them out of there. Malla summons June out so that the villagers can cheer her and Malla on for not being middle aged women anymore. Bertram collects more samples of the youth-pollen and the ring, expressly for the purpose of allowing June to remain young -- so apparently he has no moral issues with her required killing spree in order to remain young until the pollen runs out. Nice.
Commentary: And, being an early 60's b-monster flick, the movie itself doesn't condemn either June or Bertram until she starts targeting more "innocent" people. This movie's moral center completely isn't.
Scene 24: Finally, Bertram's guards actually go into the hut to retrieve him. As he's marched out, he drops one of the dynamite sticks close enough to the central fire of the village to light the wick. In the meantime, Malla tells June that her youth will only last until morning and that she shouldn't waste it, leaving Bertram with her so they can do the horizontal tango, while she obviously plans on enjoying the same before her own time runs out.
The dynamite goes off, knocking the warriors off their feet well after the actual explosion in a weird time-delayed (read really clumsily choreographed) effect.
June and Bertram run off with Malla ordering the village men to go after them. Bertram has a lighter that he was allowed to keep on him, so can throw dynamite backward.
Blah, blah - the village huts gets the crap blown out of them and burned down -- HAH-hah Malla. Looks like that youth will be wasted after all.
June and Bertram escape, 'natch.
Scene 25: The next morning, June is sleeping near the bank of the river while Bertram watches over her. He wakes her when the croc-stock-footage reappears.
Commentary: And in one of the most ridiculous threat-scenes ever, they actually try to imply that a stock-croc is chasing after them.
With the danger passed, June and Bertram engage in some of the most chaste and un-sexual kissing ever.
Scene 26: Later that night, presumably in the wake of their *choke*hot lovin'*choke*, June remains looking youthful in defiance of Malla's warning which she's very pleased about. She tells Bertram that when she thinks about how she was, she'd rather die than go back to that (I'm choosing to believe she's talking about her drunkenness, even though I'm not sure that the movie meant that).
Bertram assures her that she'll not have to, and shows her the goods (I mean the purloined pollen and the ring, not his goods, which she's presumably already seen by this point).
His plans are to return them to civilization and make a fortune having them developed into a youth product, but you can already see June considering how much she'll need those ingredients for herself.
Scene 27: Sometime later, Bertram is asleep next to their campfire. We pan over to June as she wakes up, and we can see her hair has returned to gray and her hands are wrinkled.
Alas for June, she's aged a greater amount than where she started, thanks to the elixir. She wakes Bertram up (who June keeps calling David, for some reason) and he suitably horrified by her sudden aging (seriously, he just about panics when he sees her) and pushing her away, rushes off into the jungle (I'm choosing to believe this is because he can see her desperation is putting his pineal fluid in serious danger, rather than the fact that, you know, the bitch got old and gross on him -- considering this movie's twisted value system though, that could just be a fairy tale I'm telling myself).
Scene 28: Somehow, old lady June is able to keep up with the experienced and virile Bertram-David in the wilds of Africa, pleading with him the whole time not to leave her.
Alas, Bertram-David doesn't watch where he's going and falls into quicksand. He calls for help, she demands the (apparently conveniently waterproofed) leather pouch containing the ring and pollen, he gives in, she pulls him to solid ground, then kills him.
Scene 29: Sometime later, June arrives back home where Paul's nurse and the Talbot's lawyer meet her having already been informed about Paul's death overseas. Sally tells Neil about how the Doctor really treated June like crap even though she really adored him.
It is implied that Sally and Neil are now dating.
Sally and Neil look for June, but instead meet "Terry Hart", June's niece. She explains that June fell down with the flu and had to stay behind to recover, but sent Terry to open up the house and get things ready for her return. There is an obvious, instant attraction between Terry and Neil, 'natch.
Commentary: Well, really - it is Grant Williams, so of course June/Terry immediately wants him out of that suit. Of course, this does present the thorny issue of Sally's hanging around....
In a very nice bit of acting, Sally makes sure to get across to 'Terry' that she's engaged to Neil....
Scene 30: At the house, Neil finishes bringing in Terry's luggage, but seems reluctant to leave. Just as Neil is leaving, Terry asks where June kept the liquor, which is obviously a ploy to get a few moments with him. He glances back at Sally, but leaves the door open as he heads back into the house to show Terry the home bar, but Terry/June quickly closes it on Sally's prying eyes.
They share a sexually charged vodka together, when Sally starts impatiently honking the horn. He goes to leave, but is again stopped by Terry's sudden request for him to take her bags to her aunt's room. She follows him upstairs with the two of them sharing longing glances.
Commentary: Now, ordinarily I'd be asking what the hell is up with Neil being so instantly smitten, but I'm choosing to put this down to the effect of the elixir on June's hormones, or something. Plus, it's difficult to argue against Neil here, when I want him to get in a shirtless scene somewhere along the way....
Despite Neil trying to leave again, Terry is aggressive and Neil ends up grabbing her into a clinch.
Commentary: And, this kiss is much better than the lips-barely-touching of June & Bertram-David's scene. Grant Williams... he's so hot & dreamy....
Anyway, just as things are heating up and Sally is making her way to the house to catch 'em in the act, Terry suddenly has a freak out and throws Neil out of her aunt's room. For, you see, June has suddenly felt the serum wearing off again and is about to age.
She locks Neil out of her room, collapsing into sobs as he stares at the door in confusion.
Scene 31: Neil leaves, taking far too long to realize that Sally is standing at the front door. She's pissed to see him returning from upstairs, which he blows off as just carrying Terry's bags for her. Sally doesn't buy it and storms out, with he following with another confused glance up at June's bedroom door.
Commentary: Wow. Talk about short hand. Sally's reaction seems really exaggerated, even in the wake of the immediate distrust she has of Terry. Sure, we know Neil lying, but Sally doesn't and it's not like his suit is messed up, or he has lipstick on his mouth (even though he probably should) or anything. And, oh Grant... you so rock a nice suit.
Scene 32: Sometime later, June makes her return, looking downright elderly, which is no doubt put down to the shock of her sudden loss of Paul. June has come to get some money and her jewelery. She also mentions 'Terry' and how she'd like to see Neil again.
Commentary: And, yes, I did fight not to include another screen cap of Neil just standing there. I could fill this whole review with nothing but screen caps of Grant.
Scene 33: June takes a stroll in a 'not safe' part of town, where she runs into a drunk that she tries to buy a drink for, but he declines after bumping into her. She's decked out in her jewels and furs and has a wad of cash in her purse.
This gains the attention of a lowlife in an alley and he follows her.
Commentary: And, despite June's rapid aging... her legs remain fabulous!
So, June stops to lean against a theatre pillar and lowlife makes his move. We don't hear their dialog, as there is a jazz joint close by and we get music on the soundtrack, but body language suggests he's attempting to seduce her ala a gigolo, and she pretends to fall for his trap.
Scene 34: He takes her up into the hills and parks. He (extremely obviously and clumsily, so one must assume he's more thief than man-whore) eyes all of her diamonds and fur as he "tricks her" into revealing that no one will be worried about her, as she's all alone.
June nearly gets more than she bargained for as the seduction suddenly stops and lowlife begins strangling her to death instead. Fortunately for her, she had already put the hook ring on and is able to jab him in the back of the neck. His death is nearly instant.
Scene 35: Later that evening, Neil is hanging around his office where Sally stops by. He tries to lie to her about missing their date by two hours because he's been so wrapped up with work, but he only has a magazine on his desk. He admits to waiting for a phone call and she guesses from Terry... she rushes out, upset.
He starts to go after her, but Terry calls just then inviting him over and Neil smiles... *Sigh*
Scene 36: At her "aunt's" home, Terry is preparing a bottle of bubbly. She hears a knock and assumes it's Neil, so invites her visitor in. It's actually Sally, however, to confront the hussy about moving in on her fiance.
Sally has come to convince Terry to get on the next plane to New York ... and she has a gun to make her point.
Commentary: I really like Sally, here. Sure, the whole gun thing to protect my impending marriage to a man who obviously can't be trusted is a really stupid plan, but she's so sassy and strong while doing it. Plus, June/Terry is an awful person, so it's hard for my sympathy not to be with Sally.
June/Terry puts on the Ring-of-Stabby-Jab as she is retrieving her coat, as she tries to convince Sally of the foolishness of this whole plan of hers. Alas, for Sally, she gets much too close to Terry and has the gun knocked away. There is a much too short cat fight, and then June/Terry jabs Sally in the back of the neck with the ring - killing her.
Commentary: Yeah, it did bum me out. Sally has been the only decently acting character in the entire film. Despite her rather impetuous and desperate attempt to ensure her marriage, which anyone not blinded by love should see is already doomed to failure, she's not malicious or mean-spirited and she should have ended up in a better place. Is she a "one I would've saved" ... not really, but I do consider her demise a sad one.
June drops Sally's brain fluid into her little cup for use later....
Scene 37: Later that night, after Sally has been stashed away somewhere, Neil is preparing to open the champagne. He admits to Terry that he told Sally about how he feels about her (No, you didn't! Sally guessed at it and you looked away guiltily.) and she didn't take it well. Terry blithely replies that everyone can't win (You Bitch).
Neil tells Terry that just thinking about her is exciting as he nuzzles her cheek.
Commentary: Y'know, for being a 1960 movie, this film has been full of not-very-subtle sexual innuendos. It's really hard (hah!) to see Neil here and not think that he's got a woody going and that is exactly what he is referring to. Grant... woody... wow. Ah-hem... maybe we should get back to the actual film and away from the one unspooling in my head.
The moment is spoiled for June/Terry when Neil very suddenly proposes to her. (He's barely met her! Please tell me this is the hormones popping in June!)
Terry puts Neil off by declining his proposal, but offering sex. They're interrupted by a knock at the door. It's the police and they're executing a search warrant. They want to talk to June, but 'Terry' has already explained to Neil (I'll presume over the phone earlier) that her aunt is with friends.
When Neil insists on knowing what is going on, as her attorney, the police explain that she's wanted for questioning in a murder but isn't a suspect. This shocks Neil, of course. And is probably an unpleasant surprise to June herself, as well.
The detective explains about the guy June murdered in his car being found. June, being in the beginnings of her career as a serial killer, was clumsy. She was seen in the company of the small time con man (and would be murderer) and she left the calling card that had dropped from her purse that the criminal picked up behind with his body. That was rather stupid, June.
The detective also explains that the wound was very strangely shaped and that there was a similar murder the previous week. Neil seizes on this as a reason why June couldn't be involved in causing the death, as she was in New York the previous week. But, the detective then shares that this is where the previous murder's location was. Ooops.
During the execution of the search warrant, June/Terry tries to keep them from opening the closet door --- for good reason. That's where she put Sally for safe keeping. Ooops.
Scene 38: With Sally discovered, June tries to make an escape, which fails. She rushes up the stairs instead and tries to plead her case that Sally tried to kill her. The three men stare at her in shock, as she explains she had to kill the men in order to stay young.
Now feeling afraid and stressed, a startling metamorphisis occurs. But, alas, because it isn't gamma radiation but pineal gland juice that is her poison - instead of growing green and powerfully built, she just gets old.
Noting that she needs another dose of rejuvenation, she rushes upstairs and locks herself in the bedroom, insisting that she can show them. She grabs the cup with Sally's gland juice and a bit of the pollen. She wanders to her mirror, as the men try to break down the door.
Scene 39: At the mirror, June notes that she's not rejuvenating. For, as you'll recall, Malla specifically told her that she had to choose a man to sacrifice. June exclaims in horror at what she's done, that she killed Sally for nothing....
Commentary: Uh... no... no, you didn't. You killed her because she threatened your sexfest with Neil, which due to the fact he's Grant Williams, was completely justified in my book. Oh, lighten up, I'm kidding. But, still, she didn't kill Sally for the hormone - that was just something she took advantage of.
Scene 40: The detectives out in the corridor, along with Neil, hear June/Terry scream and the sound of shattering glass....
One of the detectives shoots out the lock on the door and everyone rushes into an empty room.
Scene 41: Going out onto the balcony, they find mega-old June lying dead on the paver stones below, having smashed through a glass patio table.
The Good: All of the actors handle their parts quite well. There was no one who was painful or inept, but special attention must be given to Grant, 'natch, along with Coleen and Gloria Talbott as Sally.
For the most part, with the exception of the travelogue stock footage in Africa, the pacing is well handled in this one with characters we can stay interested in.
The rather frank discussion of sex as the primary motivator for Malla and then June is rather refreshing and surprising.
The method of murder is unique.
The Bad: Well, that travelogue footage naturally. The mix of stock footage to set dressing is awfully mismatched, as is the pathetic day for night attempts.
The pacing, while Good, is also lopsided in the wrong direction. We have much more lead up to getting the rejuvenation than we get after June has escaped with the secret.
Neil's sudden heel turn on Sally for June/Terry isn't explained at all, and really needed to be. It was too sudden and too unbelievable without some sort of pheremone mind control at work, but this is never even brought up. Malla could have easily gotten a line in there to explain that this is a side effect. Instead, he just looks like an a-hole.
The confrontation between 'Terry' and Sally also seemed much too rushed, because of the lopsided story focus. With so much time spent on getting June the pollen and ring, there wasn't enough time to set up this conflict adequately.
Other Thoughts: There is also a mildly misandric bent to this movie, in that all of the men react the same toward our middle aged anti-heroine. They all feel various levels of revulsion upon seeing a few gray hairs and mild wrinkles, which makes all of them unsympathetic (even Neil).
This, of course, revolves around the unfair attitudes toward women aging as compared to men. It is stated explicitly, but we aren't beaten about the head with it, except for that 'every male is horrified by June's gray' thing.
I do like though, even though the method is awful, that Malla and June both take control of their sexuality. Predictably, this leads to bad results, but it was nice to see while it lasted.
The Score: I actually like this film. It could certainly use more death and some struggle for June about what she's doing in order to stay young, which could have been explored if we hadn't spent so much time getting her to Africa and getting the elixir into her hands. But the movie has some interesting characters and some pretty cold-blooded and brutal deaths for the male characters, which is nicely different. It's actually pretty decent for a little b-movie about an aging woman ...
3.25 out of 5