Saturday, August 4, 2018

OSR Movie Review: The Leech Woman

Image result for the leech woman

The Leech Woman is a 1960 Universal Science Fiction horror film about an African tribe that knows the secret of reversing aging, and the results of an American woman stealing this secret and using it to become young again.

To make a long story short, this film is not very good. At best, its a cheesy B-Movie, at worst it is horrifically racist and sexist to a degree that made me quite uncomfortable. Depictions of African people as primitive and savage are rampant, and the only two named black characters are an assistant to a guide, named Nabu, and an old woman who first introduces the main characters to the substance that prolongs life, named Malla.

Nabu does not have any lines in English, nor any personality, and exists purely as a stock character. Malla is more complicated and interesting, and the main actress who plays her, (the late Estelle Hemsley) is extremely talented. However, despite Malla being a likable character, she still falls into many problematic stereotypes when she eventually serves as a kind of cult leader for the Nando people.

Image result for the leech woman

The substance to prolong one’s life is called Nibe, and on its own allows people to age slower. However, when mixed with fluid from the pineal gland, extracted with a diamond ring carved into a claw, the concoction actually restores youth and vitality.

The Nando people (the African tribe in the movie) use this powder to prolong life for most people, as well as for giving dying old women a chance to be young again for one last night. The scene where a young Nando man is sacrificed in order to make Malla young is, while not graphic, quite problematic, depicting native Africans unfairly as savage.

If this movie were to be remade, I’d like it very much to be more respectful of African culture, perhaps changing the origin of the concoction from an entire “uncivilized” tribe, to perhaps just a single witch who is terrorizing a village.

There are some usable things in the film that could be adapted for the OSR, which are described as follows:

Nibe (Magical Item)

This dust is extracted from a strange rare orchid, and takes many years to produce. When consumed on its own, once a year, it extends a person’s life by another half-year. However, if combined with the pineal hormones of a person of the opposite biological sex to the user, it can instantly remove 3d6x10 years of age, reducing the person to a minimum of 20 years old. However, this effect only lasts 24 hours, and will in fact age the user an additional 4d6x10 years after the effect ends.

Claw Ring (Weapon)

This weapon, when used normally in combat, simply deals 1d4 damage. However, if attacking an unaware target from behind, deals 1d12 damage. If this damage would kill the target, the weapon has pierced the skull and lanced the pineal gland. The fluids thus extracted can be combined with Nibe to reduce aging.

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