Christmas is that time when certain cable channels try to put you in a sugar coma with hundreds of sweet films about couples discovering the true meaning of the season and falling in love. They’re so sappy and and sticky like grandma’s hard candy dish next to her tiny holiday village. You just want a movie that makes you feel the reality of what can happen during Christmas and not this Hallmark Movie Channel dreck. This year you can find this dose of holiday magic in The Leech.
Father David (Sequence Break‘s Graham Skipper) delivers a Christmas Eve sermon about how you should be charitable to the unfortunate since they might be Jesus. There are very few witnesses to his words, Father David discovers a man passed out in the pews needing a little help. Terry (After Midnight‘s Jeremy Gardner) is a partying kind of guy who needs a lift back to his house. Father David does the right thing and offers Terry a lift home instead of leaving him in the snowy night. When they get to the house, Terry’s girlfriend has locked him out. Father David opens his home up to the stranger. He’s quickly rewarded when Terry blasts heavy metal from the guest room. Things get wild when Lexi (Sadistic Intentions‘ Taylor Gardner) shows up later that night. She’s pregnant with Terry’s kid. She has been thrown out of the house they were renting. Father David invites her also to stay with him at the house. He wants to help this couple with a child on the way. This is the real way to celebrate the holidays. Except these aren’t Joseph and Mary and there will be no three wise men knocking on the door.
The Leech is a freakish Christmas comedy that will brighten up your holidays. There are so many charming moments. There’s a time when Terry confuses Celibate with Hermaphrodite. The couple drags the priest into a game of “Never Have I Ever” that leads to the priest getting wasted. What happens in the blur of the night is not a Christmas miracle. Rigo Garay plays the church organist who also raps for the Lord. His song is such a shocker that it could fill the pews with a younger audience. Father David gets sucked down a vortex by his house guests from Hell. The Leech is the anti-Hallmark Holiday film
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the brownish tones to the holiday season. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtracks. You’ll hear the metal tracks and the rap attack. The movie is subtitled.
Audio commentary with writer/producer/director Eric Pennycoff and producer Scott Smith goes into how this film came about. They had a crew as small as the cast to make it happen swiftly during the pandemic.
Introductions to the film are done by Director Eric Pennycoff (0:10) and actor Graham Skipper (0:12). They both have Christmas messages for you.
Live Chattanooga Film Festival audio commentary has cast and crew talking while on a virtual call. There’s a discussion about how the nuns at the church from the opening thought they were making a documentary. They lied to nuns.
Virtual Q&A (33:59) with director Eric Pennycoff and the cast at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival. It’s interesting that they know how many people have already watched the streaming of the film as part of the festival. It was made during the pandemic with a tiny crew and cast. They lived in the house they shot inside to make it a bit of a quarantine.
Parasites In the Oven (25:41) is a visual essay exploring The Leech and Pennycoff’s earlier films by critic Anton Bitel. He goes back to “The Pod” in 2013. We get a summary of his previous feature film Sadistic Intentions. Bitel goes into the connections between Pennycoff and his cast in previous projects.
The Voice of Reason (14:23) is a video interview with Pennycoff and actor Graham Skipper. They reveal the secret drinking game in the film.
Introduction and Q&A (18:43) from the film’s international premiere at FrightFest 2022 in August. This was done at an actual screening. “If you like your Christmas horny and dark, you are going to have the best time,” says Louise from Arrow. They even do a benediction before starting the film. The Q&A focuses on the religious elements of the movie and filmmakers’ lives.
The Making of The Leech (14:37) is behind-the-scenes footage. You get a good look at their digital camera rig. You get to see how they make a light flash for an exterior scene.
Rigo’s music video (1:20) is a snowy religious rap.
Three short films by Eric Pennycoff include “Unfortunate” (10:24) about a guy surprising a woman on a snowy day in the country, “The Pod” (11:03) is science fiction and “Phase II” (4:14) is a bizarre religious message. It is interesting to see the small things done before tackling the feature film.
Trailer (1:12) sets up the Christmas weirdness.
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Julieann Stipidis
Arrow Video presents The Leech. Directed by Eric Pennycoff. Screenplay by Eric Pennycoff. Starring Jeremy Gardner, Taylor Zaudtke, Graham Skipper and Rigo Garay. Rating: Unrated. Running Time: 82 minutes. Release Date: December 6, 2022.