krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Resuming my project of rewatching some of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that perhaps more just wound up in the official sets than were genuinely sought out by me, I moved on to "Attack of the Giant Leeches." In some ways, I can look at that title and wonder what else I can really say about the movie.

As for the episode, though, it's easy enough to start talking about it. It opens with a reference to the episode just before it as Joel tries to get some "holo-clowns" out of the Satellite of Love's "Hexfield Viewscreen", which I suppose might be a little confusing to someone who only has the official releases. The series has presented clowns as disturbing if not just plain terrifying in general at other times too, although in some ways I'm not sure just how "humorously subversive" that really is any more... Seeing Gypsy with a black foam "lip" and Tom Servo with pink hands is strange in itself, although one interesting note in a later "host segment" was seeing everyone with a colour-coordinated coffee cup (although, as I've noticed someone else note, there's not that much difference between Tom and the jumpsuit Joel wound up in.)

Moving into the Mystery Science Theater itself, we open with a chapter from a serial. It happens to be the first chapter of "Undersea Kingdom," the second chapter of which I managed to watch not that long ago... and, in the scenes set in the "real world" before the "rocket submarine" of our heroes is drawn into the roofed-over world of Atlantis, the nattily dressed naval officer is more or less introduced as one half of a wrestling match, clad in disturbing shorts. It was a tiny bit of a relief to get to the fairly arid conditions of Atlantis (which inspires a few slightly misquoted "riffs" referencing Tatooine from Star Wars.) At one point during the fairly old serial, Joel observes a packed football stadium and makes the bleak yet philosophical comment that "All these people are dead now..."

The movie itself is set in the swamps of Florida, and as the action picks up little by little we see a collection of distinctly "local" characters, including an overweight and irascable grocer who chases his sultry younger wife (who has inspired a few "Lolita" riffs) and cheating friend further into the swamps with a shotgun, only to have the giant leeches themselves finally show up and finish the job for him. Guilt-stricken, the grocer hangs himself in his cell as the giant leeches drain the blood from their victims in their submerged cavern ("Looks like the Cave of Doctor Calamari.") The victims wind up dead by the end of the movie, which somehow doesn't seem quite fair to me. On the other hand, the apparent hero of the movie, a well-groomed game warden, is smug yet just plain wrong when he holds up (for a while) plans to drop dynamite into the neat and tidy lake of the leeches. A few comments about how the "atomic rocket" launches from the nearby Cape Canaveral have obviously made the leeches grow provide useful exposition, and it just may be that the "giant leech" costumes are on the fine edge between risible and impressive. Dr. Forrester happens to have a giant leech of his own at the end of the episode, its costume quite simple yet effective.

May 2017

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