Attack of the Giant Leeches DVD Review
Written by Robert Gold
DVD released by Brain Damage Films
Directed by Brett Kelly
Written by Jeff O'Brien
2008, Region 0 (NTSC), 76 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on April 7th, 2009
Ray Besharah as Ray
Mark Courneyea as Scott
Kerry Draper as Gracie
Jody Hauke as Walter
Shawna McSheffrey as Mary
Director Brett Kelly has been successfully cranking out movies for the past decade and has continuously grown as a filmmaker. He started out making The Bonesetter films before his first foray into remakes with Kingdom of the Vampire (an old J.R. Bookwalter favorite). His string of small Canadian horror films continued with My Dead Girlfriend, a movie that welcomed more comedy into the mix than his previous films. A brief stumble in 2005 with the rushed Final Curtain was quickly forgotten by the strength of last year's Prey for the Beast, a fun monster movie with a man in a furry beast suit.
Now Kelly remakes the Roger Corman classic Attack of the Giant Leeches. An odd choice because Corman's Leeches has a few inspired moments, but is otherwise forgettable compared to other fine Corman creature features like Attack of the Crab Monster. Kelly's remake feels confined by the need to remain true to the source material, which is unfortunate as it was mediocre at best.
As mentioned, Kelly's film contains many elements from the original, including the sequence where a jealous husband forces his cheating wife and her lover into the swamp at gunpoint, only to watch them attacked by giant leeches. In the Corman version the title creatures were garbage bags; here the puppet sleeves look better, but are still obviously puppet sleeves.
I am ashamed to admit that it took a while before I realized this filmmaker has winked at the audience's willingness to see virtually every horror remake that comes down the pike. I have expressed a personal wish (among friends) that studios remake bad movies as opposed to tarnishing classics. Remake Friday the 13th VIII or Halloween 5 instead of rebooting the franchise. Brett Kelly has granted this wish in a way I never imagined nor immediately recognized.
With Attack of the Giant Leeches, a shoddy "classic" can be lampooned and turned into a comedy. Kelly treats the material with respect and brings a contemporary low budget energy that many larger remakes are lacking. This film features a fine ensemble cast, (including Jody Hauke [The Bonesetter] as the jilted husband), offering stronger performances than the title would suggest.
Brett Kelly brings a lot of heart to his films, and his sincerity is to be admired. He surrounds himself with many familiar names in cast and crew over numerous productions and his movies have a family feel to them. You won't find any nudity in the Kelly catalogue, but the titles feature plenty of talented cast members. Giant Leeches marks the first time Kelly does not share an acting role this time around and his absence may be part of what throws off the rhythm of the film.
I have enjoyed his many films over the years, and hope Kelly can maintain the quality and pace of so many titles in a relatively short time frame. This is not the movie I would recommend as an introduction to what he is capable of as a filmmaker, but it is still worth a look. Kelly also receives a special honorary mention for incorporating underwater stock footage from the Polonia Brothers' piranha feature Razorteeth.
Video and Audio:
A fairly solid anamorphic 1.78 picture is slightly marred by excessive filtering. The shot on video material has been passed through a series of film-look filters that result in a slightly strobing frame rate.
Audio is only presented in 2-channel stereo, but dialogue is clear and there is a subtle use of surrounds during the leech attack sequences.
Sadly all we get is a trailer, a production slideshow, and trailers for a variety of Brain Damage films (including Kelly's recent effort, Prey For The Beast). Brett Kelly usually provides an entertaining commentary track that is sorely missed here.
While this is neither his best nor worst effort to date, Attack of the Giant Leeches is a nice tongue-in-cheek way to spend an afternoon. Check out the company's website for more information on Brett Kelly's work. The man has directed ten films in five years! I look forward to seeing what he offers next.
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