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Sampo & Erhardt

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Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode Guide: 406- Attack of the Giant Leeches (with short: ‘Undersea Kingdom’–Episode 1)

Short: (1936) In part one (“Beneath the Ocean Floor”) of a serial, a submarine expedition to Atlantis discovers a hostile kingdom.
Movie: (1959) Folks begin vanishing near a Florida swamp, and a game warden discovers the culprits are mutant leeches.

First shown: 7/18/92
Opening: Joel manages to shut off the holo-clowns
Invention exchange: The Mads introduce Patches the leech, while J&tB present the insty-adolescence kit
Host segment 1: J&tB discuss taking over the world and what you’d wear to do it
Host segment 2: J&tB chat about dreams over coffee
Host segment 3: J&tB sing: “Danger to Myself And Others”
End: J&tB try to understanding the leeches, Joel reads a letter; meanwhile in Deep 13, Patches has been on Frank too long
Stinger: Billy gets into it.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (233 votes, average: 4.39 out of 5)


• Plenty of fun here, in an episode that is deservedly a fan favorite. Most of the host segments are great and the riffing is terrific. A great all-around episode.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6.”
• Part two of the holo-clowns bit is classic MST3K: “Get on your orange and yellow knees and kiss my clown feet that I haven’t killed you!!!” That bit may be a true litmus test of MSTiedom. If you don’t think it’s hilarious, you really shouldn’t bother with this show.
• Joel says he started up the holoclowns “about three weeks ago.” Actually it was two weeks since the previous episode aired.
• Dr. F is reading “Putting the One-Minute Manager to Work” (the edition he’s reading is now out of print but a new edition was published in 2006 ) while Frank is reading “Working with Difficult People.” Again, that edition is rare since an updated edition came out in 2002.
• That’s Kevin, of course, as the giant leech. That bit gave us another great moment in the poopie tape: “Is it my sucking you?” By the way, doctors have in fact found useful medical applications for leeches.
• Yay! The first short of season 4 and the first in 10 episodes. By the way, “Undersea Kingdom,” made in 1936, is the oldest thing (movie or short) MST3K ever riffed on.
• Joel feels “blindsided” because the Mads fail to mention the short before “movie sign.”
• Then-still-somewhat-current reference: Mayor Dinkins. Remember him?
• Tom Servo attempts a complicated joke that sort of misfires and Joel responds: “That’s a Swiss army joke.”
• For the third episode running, the song “Hot Child in the City” is referenced.
• This movie has a pretty much classic Corman cast, including Bruno VeSota, Michael Emmet, Russ Sturlin and Gene Roth. Suprisingly, no Merritt Stone.
• Servo’s coffee head is a nice touch, and the best part is that nobody even really mentions it. It’s just kinda there and nobody thinks much of it.
• Joel pours some cream for Gypsy and she interrupts him to say “when” and that seems to amuse Joel.
• Movie comment: Our cuckolded store keeper Dave clearly has a double-barreled shotgun. Now I’m no firearms expert, but I believe such a weapon, assuming it is fully loaded, has the capability of firing (at the most) twice before the user has to reload, correct? And in fact, we do see Dave reload, placing a shell in each barrel. But that’s after we’ve heard him fire at least four shots. And after he reloads, he fires another four shots before backing Liz and her paramour into the lake. Now it’s possible he reloaded off-camera, but if I was Liz’s boyfriend, I wouldn’t shrink in fear of that obviously empty gun.
• Sexy Liz is played by Yvette Vickers, who met a very sad end.
• The exterior swamp shots were done at the Arboretum in Arcadia, Calif., where shots for TV’s “Fantasy Island” were done years later.
• Some of the cast were almost electrocuted on thee set when a water tank full of actors collapsed.
• Joel quietly hums a line of the upcoming song in the theater.
• Lots of characters are humming internal songs in this episode. I remember this being one of my favorite kinds of riff for a while.
• “A Danger to Mahself and Others” is one of the truly great MST3K original songs. Joel and Mike share the writing credit, by the way. My only complaint is that they taped a pipe to Tom’s lower lip and we can hear it bonking loudly against his torso during the song. Very distracting.
• Tom Servo’s head practically FLIES off as they leave the theater for the last time. They cover beautifully.
• Cast and crew roundup (it’s Corman, so strap in): Gene Corman, Roger’s brother, produced both MSTed films which Bernard L. Kowalski directed: “Attack of the Giant Leeches and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Scriptwriter Leo Gordon appears as an actor in “Kitten With A Whip.” Cinematographer John Nicholaus also worked on “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Editor Carlo Lodato also worked on “High School Big Shot.” Costumer Ross Sturlin (who also acts here) also worked on “Teenage Caveman” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Costumer Ed Nelson also worked on “Superdome” and “Riding with Death.” Production manager Jack Bohrer worked on “Night of the Blood Beast” and was assistant director on “Teenage Caveman” and “Viking Women.” Art director Dan Haller also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast” and “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” Prop man Richard Rubin also worked on “Bloodlust.” Sound guy Al Overton worked on “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “The Phantom Planet” and “The Screaming Skull.” Score composer Alexander Laszlo also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast,” “Manhunt in Space” and “Crash of Moons.”
In front of the camera, Ken Clark also appears in “12 to the Moon.” Michael Emmet also appears in “Night of the Blood Beast” and “Untamed Youth.” Bruno VeSota also appears in “Gunslinger,” “Daddy-O,” “The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman” and “The Undead.” Gene Roth also appears in “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “Tormented” and “The Rebel Set.” Tyler McVey also appears in “Night of the Blood Beast.” George “doughy guy” Cisar also appears in “Teen-Age Crime Wave.” Ross Sturlin also appears in “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Joseph Hamilton also appears in “Teenage Caveman.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “This looks like a fine place to set down my pasty white bottom.” Honorable mention: “How come they all turned when he said ‘Dad’?”
• Fave riff: “…or someone might stab you in your sleep…” Honorable mention: “Looks like the cave of Dr. Calamari.”

114 Replies to “Episode Guide: 406- Attack of the Giant Leeches (with short: ‘Undersea Kingdom’–Episode 1)”

  1. dad1153 says:

    Even though I’ve had this experiment on Rhino DVD since I bought the Volume 6 Box Set when it was released I’ve only seen it a couple of times. Now that the site’s recap gave me an incentive to rewatch it I’m kind-of dumbfounded at how good “Attack of the Giant Leeches” is. The ‘Undersea Kingdom’ short really helps sets the mood by tipping the goofy meter off the scale (an open-air Atlantis unerneath the Ocean?) with appropriate riffing (‘we now join Fitzcarraldo already in progress’) and suitable two-dimensional characters (‘Crash’ Carrigan). It’s dumb, loud, obnoxiously funny (love the little kid screaming ‘Hurry Diana’ at the top of his lungs) and over just before it gets to be too much. Then we’re thrown head-first into a Corman-made (by Roger and Gene) low-budget monstruosity that tries to make social commentary and be ‘noir’ (with poor Bruno VeSota playing tortured soul) to somehow compensate for the “monsters” being guys with garbage bags over their bodies. Really, how much did it set back the movie’s budget for Corman to shop for props at the local A&P? The ‘jerk’ hero, his coffee-obsessed girlfriend and her scientist father are uninteresting and dull compared to the ‘bad’ victims, who are pretty uninteresting to begin with (especially after VeSota hangs himself). Joel and the Bots deliver solid riffing throughout (they did the same in the next experiment, but the drabness of “Killer Shrews” just overwhelmed their efforts) and the host segment start very weird (that f***ed-up Holo-Clown Sequencer), drop to OK in the middle but end on the new-to-me high of the ‘Danger to Myself and Others’ song that is both funny and scary (that there are actual people like the one’s made fun of). Any more of the two-segment short or the already-dull “Leeches” movie would kill this experiment’s perfect momentum; both the short and the terrible movie attached to it each get their share of pain and then disappear before they overstay their welcome. The Brains always have fun when a fat guy features prominently in the plot, and the early part of “Leeches” when VeSota is in almost every scene if solid non-stop fun.

    So, FOUR STARS (out of five) for “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Undersea Kingdom Pt. 1.” Favorite riff: ‘I think I know where the drapes went’ :pain: (honorable mention: ‘did I show you my rash?’ from the Holo-Clowns opening bit… WOW! :pain: :pain: :pain: ).


  2. Duck 182 says:

    Just giving everyone a heads up. The upcoming issue of Los Angeles magazine (Feb 2012) will have an article on Ms Yvette Vickers, telling an abridged version of her life story. Attack of the Giant Leeches is blurbed, but no MST mention. Mainly focuses on her relationships with several men and her status as a B-movie actress. Just thought I’d spread the word.


  3. Sitting Duck says:

    Attack of the Giant Leeches fails the Bechdel Test. Liz and Nan never interact.

    With the coffee obsession in this movie, you’d think Coleman Francis had a hand in it. Though come to think of it, this could be considered one of Corman’s drearier films.

    Favorite riffs

    Let’s go gather around the water cooler.
    We are the water cooler.

    I’m his son. He doesn’t know about me yet.

    “Here we are ten thousand feet below sea level…”
    And me without my rubbers.

    “Keep out of sight until we find out if they’re friends or enemies.”
    If they kill me, they’re probably enemies.

    Well, round about that time, the Duke Boys did a little body work on the old General Lee.

    This looks like the right side of the wrong side of the tracks.

    Boss Hogg after dark.

    Shouldn’t have married her knowing she loathed me.

    Will the leech survive? Will they drink more coffee and will the fat guy’s wife ever touch him? And what about Naomi?

    “Will you answer me, you dirty old man!”
    Dirty old man? The Ropers get more action.

    “I love you, Elizabeth.”
    But I love groceries more.

    We return to Fat Guy goes Nutso. A Troma Presentation.

    “Ain’t nothing down here, Sheriff.”
    Except for these dead folks.

    “I didn’t kill them.”
    I ate ’em.

    Don’t look now, I think they’ve found Jimmy Hoffa.

    “I’m willing to bet a month’s pay that they don’t come up with nothing more than excuses.”
    Well I could use ten bucks.

    Let’s go see what Steve the Jerk’s up to.


  4. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Another movie where the brave heroes die in the end. Those valiant leeches were just trying to rid the world of a few rednecks as a kind service to humanity! I don’t believe a single person got killed that didn’t deserve it. If only the sheriff would’ve been eaten too, the community would’ve been far better off.
    And what’s with the hate for the park ranger guy? He was just doing his job, and the right thing. The chances that any of the missing people were still alive is so minuscule that it shouldn’t have ever been considered.

    I ended up getting the rest of Undersea Kingdom from Netflix, and it was pretty good for a serial.


  5. cvbwe says:

    them federal boys are all just secretly no good revenoors


  6. 406 – Attack of the Giant Leeches

    Memorable Riffs from Short:
    Joel: “Good idea, kid! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    Joel: “AUGH! The film’s melting… oh, hey it’s a better world!”

    Crow: “Traffic lights must be out.”

    Crow: “Jane! I’m home!”

    Crow: “Wait right there! We’re coming to attack you!”

    Servo: “If they kill me, they’re probably an enemy.”

    Fav. Riff from short:
    Servo: “Beep…. beep…. beep…. he’s backing up.”

    Memorable riffs from movie:
    Servo: “Thanks for comforting me with a gun!”

    Crow: “Hey, what’s this hole in the— ARGHHHH!!!”

    Joel: “This make me feel like we’re Lewis and Clark. You’re Jerry Lewis and I’m Petula Clark.”

    Crow: “Well, there’d be more oxygen for the rest of us.”

    Crow: “Uh, she dropped her contact lens in my mouth and was trying to get it out with her tongue. Yeah, that’s it.”

    Crow: “You two go on without me… wait, that’s all wrong.”

    Crow: “Hey, that was his heart blowing up!”

    Joel: “Man, look at all the weed. Where are they, in Tommy Chong’s backyard?”

    Crow: “Well it’s tough love, really.”

    Joel: “We don’t want hillbillies with good taste, we want hillbillies that taste good!”

    Joel: “Looks like the cameraman can’t find the cast.”

    Servo: “It’s not that deep. It must have been filmed in Corman’s swimming pool.”

    Crow: “Sucker! Oh, wait, that’s me.”

    Fav. Riff from movie:
    Servo: “I’d start the grill if I were you!”

    – Sampo said once he believes there’s other episodes with out-of-sequence production codes (a la episode 104). This episode could potentially be one that’s out of order. By the production number, “Attack of the giant Leeches” should follow “Being From Another Planet”, which introduced the holo-clowns. But, here Joel states he installed them “three weeks ago”. Maybe, “Being From Another Planet” was originally 403, but got postponed?

    – I like that the leech is named “Patches”, and when Dr. F applies the leech to Frank, he says, ‘i’m depending on you.”

    – Crow comments that the land in the short looks like the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride. Hmmm… I’d say it looks more like the Jungle Cruise.

    – Didn’t Joel already explain to the ‘bots the appeal of serials back in Season 1?

    – Holy crap, that’s some AWFUL music playing over the film’s opening credits.

    – Okay, here’s my theory for why we don’t see Servo’s head in the theater. He fills his head with coffee! In Segment 2, Servo’s head is making coffee.

    – I like that Liz ends up barefoot by the end of the film.

    – Funny b-movie moment: The two divers rescue Liz, bring her ashore, get out of the boat, and the actors playing the divers apparently forget about Liz’s actress and let the boat drift away from the shore, and they have to get back into the water and pull the boat back to dry land. Was that really the best take they had of this scene?

    – Servo’s head falls off as they leave the theater. Hope no coffee spilled out.

    – I like that Kevin makes no attempt to disguise his voice as patches the Leech.

    – The song “Danger to Ourselves and Others” was written by Joel and Mike. Well, fans have said they always wanted to see some kind of Joel-Mike collaboration. i guess that would be it.

    Best Segment: “Danger to Myself and Others” is hilarious.
    Worst Segment: Segment 2 is more about killing time than doing anything funny or creative.

    Overall: A very funny episode! love it! ***1/2


  7. thequietman says:

    “He tried to hold up a filling station…”
    But he wasn’t strong enough and it fell on him!

    I think when this film was being written someone was thinking of the Warner Bros. movie “Baby Doll” with Karl Malden. Sort of appropriate then, when we hear the typical WB rifle shot sound effect (heard in almost every Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoon) several times during the swamp chase, capped by the riff “I’ll get you, you wascawwy aduwterwers!”


  8. trickymutha says:

    Famous line GF and me say to each other first heard in this experiment:
    “But he’s a jerk.”


  9. Cornjob says:

    My old comments are at #74.

    I remember watching this when it was current with my then girlfriend. We both have some psychiatric issues and Danger to Myself and Others became one of “our songs”.

    The brief moment where we see Dr. F dressed like Captain Hook with clown shoes and a Carmen Miranda hat quoting General Zod from Superman 2 might be my favorite moment of crazy for Dr. Forrester. Right up there with the double butt graft (and to think that they laughed) and his discussion about the moment he realized he was a scientist somewhere in season K.

    The opening scene where the locals are ribbing the guy who saw the leech is bizarre without the riffing and hilarious with. Classic MST3K. And this movie may be bad, but it’s definitely entertaining. Great performance by Bruno Vesota. Maybe they should have left out the leeches and made a movie about Dave and Liz and the ways their broken marriage tears apart the small swamp community.


  10. littleaimishboy says:

    There was a whole little sub-genre around the time of “Leeches” of movies with titles like “Slutty Swamp Devil” or “Bayou Tramp”, featuring lots of implicit sex and explicit sweating. (Drinking game: sink one every time a character wipes his face with a rag & says “Whew!”) The closest these films ever got to “respectability” was “Ruby Gentry” (1952, Jennifer Jones/Charlton Heston/Karl Malden). Corman’s kinda crossing over into that territory here.


  11. JCC says:

    Well now I want to see Slutty Swamp Devil and Bayou Tramp. Curse you, littleaimishboy!


  12. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:


    I’m a jerk.


  13. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #110: Well, Corman was always one to cash in on trends.


  14. Cornjob says:

    I think the hero of this movie learned basic gun safety from the sheriff in Plan 9. Always stick a gun in the face of a distraught witness to a horrific death.

    Thanks for the perspective littleamishboy. The adultery subplot was by far the most realistic and compelling part of the movie.

    Brandon Pierce, if you like shoeless ladies I hope you’ve seen Phase 4 and Fire Maidens of Outer Space.


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