The horror movie mystery is solved

That movie absolutely terrified me for weeks! Thought someone was going to kill ME, and I hadn’t even kissed a girl yet!

In one of those memes I do sometimes, there was a question about the movie that I found most scary. The problem was that I saw it when I was nine, give or take a year, couldn’t remember the title, and I didn’t even know how well I remembered the details.

Finally, I wised up and asked my friend, comic book artist, and more importantly in this context, horror film buff Steve Bissette:

What is the movie I’m trying to describe? I saw it c 1962, but it was likely the second run – it was paired with a 1956 Frances the Talking Mule film. The lead woman was very beautiful, very much so, and men wanted to kiss her, but if they did, she became very homely. In order to regain her beauty, she had to take this ring and stab them in the neck, killing them, then blow some powder afterward. Do you have ANY idea what I saw that freaked me out when I was nine?

The Leech Woman

Steve’s reply:

You saw THE LEECH WOMAN (1960), a black-and-white Universal-International film — and yep, they made the FRANCIS movies, too.

Here’s the Wiki synopsis, which is accurate:

A mysterious old woman approaches Dr. Paul Talbot (Phillip Terry) and promises to reveal to him the secret of eternal youth. Following her to Africa, he and his wife June Talbot (Coleen Gray) witness the secret ceremony that utilizes orchid pollen and a victim’s pineal gland secretions. June returns to the United States alone and proceeds to keep herself young by killing people for their pineal secretions. She becomes enamored with a man half her actual age and kills his fiance to maintain her youthful appearance. Eventually, the cops come to investigate the murders and June kills herself by leaping from a window.

The preview trailer.

I wrote back:

THANKS, Steve! I’ve been puzzling about this for YEARS until it finally occurred to me to ask my favorite expert! That movie absolutely terrified me for weeks! Thought someone was going to kill ME, and I hadn’t even kissed a girl yet!

Steve also went ape in tackling Prime-Apes!!! My Fave Planet of the Apes Knockoffs, such as Kamandi.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “The horror movie mystery is solved”

  1. Maybe the movie ought to frighten you. Your description reminded me of the Indonesian (and Malay) legendary vampire woman, the pontianek. From Wikipedia:

    A pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. In some cases where the pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, it rips out the sex organs with its hands. It is said that if you have your eyes open when a pontianak is near, it will suck them out of your head. Pontianak locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any article of clothing outside of their residences overnight.

    However, also from Wikipedia…

    To fend off a pontianak, a nail must be plunged into the hole on the nape of her neck. This is said to make her a beautiful woman and a good wife until the nail is removed. In the case of the kuntilanak, the nail is plunged into the apex of her head.

    So there you go. That low budget horror flick is a version of a legend that to this day terrifies entire nations. I can just hear the people working on this flick in 1960 saying, “Okay, let’s spice this up by having the woman stab guys in the neck instead.” You’re not alone, Rog.

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