"The horse leech’s daughter is a closed system. Her quantum of wantum cannot vary." A humid strain of Baby Doll pulses through it all, with Yvette Vickers sauntering indolently into the general store in a half-open frilly peignoir, a toothbrush slipping in and out of her foamy mouth. The rotund cuckold (Bruno VeSota) catches her in flagrante delicto with a local lout (Cal Emmet), the illicit couple stands before his shotgun on the edge of the Everglades: "Into the water!" A game garden (Ken Clark) and a scientist’s daughter (Jan Shepard) comprise the Good Couple elsewhere, a pair of reward-hungry poachers are the moonshine-swilling jesters. The leeches themselves are marvelously ramshackle creations of the Corman school, one moment they’re crew members transparently squirming in zipped-up sleeping bags and the next they’re raunchy, Cubist vampire-tentacles. Cape Canaveral contamination is hinted at, allusions to the Seminole and the U.S. Army add to the dense subtext, the torch-lit chiaroscuro of an underwater cave (trapped humans raw from bloody suction cups) gives just a whiff of an underground, 8mm Irving Klaw loop. Dynamite has the bodies bobbing up to the surface, anticipating a key image from Russell’s Women in Love. Bernard L. Kowalski films the swamps in the footsteps of Renoir and Ray, and the result is a pungent little fable with a certain Rimbaudian side ("Singer, your goddaughter is my thirst so mad / A mouthless intimate hydra / Which consumes and ravages"). With Tyler McVey, Gene Roth, and Dan White. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce