Leeches (2003) – By Timothy Martinez

In
the history of “B” and cult monster films, there have been some truly
inspired as well as some downright godawful methods contrived for the
creation of the titular beasts. The 1950’s were renown for the
radiation spawned mutant bugs and other giant critters, and later
decades saw all manner of oversized monsters created from science gone
mad or a strange confluence of random events. Even some of the worst
origins were still somewhat plausible in the suspended belief realm of
monster flicks, but the manner in which the title creatures in Leeches attain their unnaturally large status has got to be one of the most unintentionally comical ways I have seen yet.

The movie centers around a college swimming team made up of the usual
array of young and healthy males. We get the basic stereotypes here:
the hotheaded guy, the slightly nerdy guy, the all star athlete, etc.
Throw in a bunch of cardboard cutout girlfriends and you have a cast
that is instantly and irrevocably forgettable. To this day, I could not
tell you any of their names if my life depended on it. Anyway, it seems
that in order to boost their performance, many of the team members are
taking steroids, supplied by the “hot headed” guy. With that
circulating in their blood, a large group of young people decided to
make a day of it at a local swimming spot, which just happens to be a
small creek loaded with leeches. It is not long until leeches have
attached themselves to various members of the team, many of whom are
unaware of the little unwanted hitchhikers until they get back to
campus and head for the showers, where the pesky critters are removed
and pushed down a drain. Before you can say “this sucks” those
normal-sized leeches are super-sized into bloodsuckers the size of
small cats…and all because they gorged on the swimmers’ steroid ridden
blood! Oh brother.

What follows is one of the worst monster films I have ever seen, for
two very basic reasons. Reason number one: the monsters are leeches! It
is hard to conjure tension when the bad guys are oversized worms who
inch along on the ground. Where is the freaking danger? Almost any fool
can outrun a leech! Yet, one after another, members of the cast are
picked off by the suckers in the most pathetic monster attacks put to
film since Bela Lugosi met his end in the embrace of an octopus in Bride of the Monster.
The way in which two or three leeches hop on a person and drain them of
blood is laughable. I don’t know a single person who is not confined to
a wheel chair that could not effectively defend themselves and get away
from these things. It is just sad.

The second reason the movie bites, albeit a little more on the personal
side, is the over abundance of Homoerotic imagery. The audience is
subjected to long, slow shots of the various swim team members as they
strip down to their speedos, as they shower before and after a meet,
and as they emerge from the pool, water dripping from their bodies. In
a word: yuck. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of
horror film fans are heterosexual males, and all this beefcake is just
a turn off unless you happen to butter your bread on that side. The
ladies of course, will may find this more to their liking. I can’t
really say. I just found it completely annoying.

Aside from the leeches, there is a small storyline concerning a murder
and the mystery of the who the perpetrator may be, plus for those who
can stomach the entire affair there is a “twist” at the end, but I’m
sure most people who get that far won’t really give a rat’s posterior.
Save yourself some pain and avoid this one.

Final grade: 1.5 out 5