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When backwoods Florida shopkeeper Dave Walker discovers his hot but hostile wife Liz having an affair with his best friend Cal, he pursues the offending couple into the swamp with a shotgun. But before he can exact his revenge, the pair are dragged under the water by a couple of enormous slug-like creatures.
Even though Dave is arrested for the murder of Liz and Cal, local game warden Steve Benton conducts a search for the victims, aided by his girlfriend Nan and her father Dr. Greyson. Lots of footage ensues of Steve and Nan rowing through the Everglades, even as more people disappear. Finally, Dr. Greyson uses dynamite (against Steve's orders, no less) to inadvertently dislodge a bevy of corpses, giving the heroes an idea where to look for the other victims. Steve dons an aqualung and a speargun and dives down to do combat with the giant leeches before more dynamite is used to finish them off.
The film was given The Remake treatment in 2008.
This movie leeches off of the following tropes:
- And I Must Scream: The leeches keep their victims (barely) alive in order to continue feeding off them.
- Asshole Victim: Just listen to the way Cal talks about his "best friend" Dave, whilst having an affair with Dave's wife.
- Liz, by way of contrast, is given a touch of sympathy via her Freudian Excuse.
- Attack of the Killer Whatever
- Cassandra Truth: The film opens with a local drunk telling everyone about the strange creatures he's seen in the swamp, but everyone dismisses the sighting as a case of the DTs. The drunk is dead a couple of scenes later.
- Deep South: Quite a few side characters are played as total local yokels.
- Driven to Suicide: Dave hangs himself in jail when no one will believe he didn't kill his wife.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Freudian Excuse / All Girls Want Bad Boys: Liz blames her long streak of bad relationships for landing her in Dave's hands.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Verdict: Bad; the affair between Liz and Cal is not played sympathetically in the least, unless you count Liz's Freudian Excuse.
- I Love Atomic Power: A Hand Wave mid-film suggests that the leeches were mutated by waste run-off from nearby Cape Canaveral.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: One female victim among four male ones; the woman even manages to outlive Those Two Guys who are captured long after she is, giving the audience a false hope that she will ultimately be rescued. Furthermore, the eventual discovery of the men's bodies is played as a shock sting, while the discovery of the woman's is treated as more tragic.
- Monster Misogyny: Not present in the film proper, but a partial example in the poster; while there are a couple of male victims strewn about, note the prominently positioned bikini-clad woman.
- Mistaken for Murderer: Dave only meant to put the fear of God into Liz and Cal; he wasn't counting on giant leeches.
- Police Are Useless: The local sheriff refuses to partake in Steve's search for Liz and Cal, preferring to believe that there are no monsters in the swamp and that Dave shot Liz and Cal in a jealous fit. He publicly maintains this attitude even after Cal's body is recovered and after an autopsy proves that he was killed by something like a giant leech, not a shotgun; he even goes so far as to (vaguely) threaten Steve for "poking around in other people's business". He is convinced only when he personally witnesses Liz's body rising from the swamp.
- Pyrrhic Victory: In the end the giant leeches are destroyed, but with the cost of swamp's ecology. But then there's the below to consider . . .
- Remonstrating with a Gun: Dave chases Liz and Cal with a shotgun when he discovers their affair.
- Shallow Love Interest: Nan
- The End - or Is It?: The last thing heard in the film is the sound of the leeches 'gurgling'. Implying that some others survive.
- Those Two Guys: The leeches' final two victims, who are captured even as they search for Liz and Cal.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Dave and Liz