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  Mesa of Lost Women Kiss Of The Spider Woman
Year: 1953
Director: Ron Ormond, Herbert Tevos
Stars: Jackie Coogan, Allan Nixon, Richard Travis, Lyle Talbot, Paula Hill, Robert Knapp, Tandra Quinn, Chris-Pin Martin, Harmon Stevens, Nico Lek, Kelly Drake, John Martin, George Barrows, Candy Collins, Dolores Fuller, Dean Reisner, Mona McKinnon
Genre: Horror, Trash, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Muerto Desert - desert of death! Only a fool would try to walk across this expanse of Mexican wilderness, and it is the arrogance of humanity that considers itself better than the insects which outnumber us billions to one, but nevertheless a couple have been discovered by a ranger who picks them up in his jeep and takes them to the nearest hospital. They are insensible with heat exhaustion, but by and by the male half of the duo, Dan Mulcahy (Richard Travis) awakens and begins to converse - but not to make any sense! What horrors did he witness out there on the mesa? Why won't anyone believe him now he has survived to tell his terrible tale? Why?!

Also worth asking, will someone turn off the music, please? That, shall we say, insistent soundtrack of guitar and piano is so incessant that you half expect the cast to stop what they're doing and yell "WILL YOU SHUT UP?! I CAN HARDLY HEAR MYSELF THNK!" But they do not do that, they continue to act in this garbage as if it were deadly serious in a manner that marked it out as only the sort of thespianism you would see in the nineteen-fifties, and more specifically, the era's science fiction and horror movies. Now, not every example was as egregious as Mesa of Lost Women, in fact there are many classics of the decade's cinema to be seen, both big budget and on a relative shoestring.

This was made on a shoestring, but nobody's idea of a classic, more an endurance test that you just might find absolutely hilarious. Though there was no Edward D. Wood Jr involvement, he was connected to this through other people, some of his regular cast appeared, he was moved to reuse that confounded music for Jail Bait not long after, and it was released by people he had a professional agreement with. However, the main mover behind this was actually two people, the mysterious Herbert Tevos (probably not his real name) and Ron Ormond, who plugged away at the movie industry with tiny budget Westerns until he found his true calling - a religious calling, in fact.

Ormond will be best known to cult film buffs as the mastermind behind scaremongering Christian fundamentalist efforts like If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? a few years later, but Tevos was a trickier proposition, a man of mystery who reportedly only made this film but was a shadowy figure in the German industry of the thirties, and moved to Hollywood to escape the war where he apparently thought one actress here, Tandra Quinn, could be the Trilby to his Svengali. She had other ideas, and Tevos returned to the shadows, but the movie does attract many curious types, and his uncertain backstory was a typical instance of a dreamer who sees their fortune in showbiz but never quite makes it. Especially as his original concept was abandoned unfinished and transformed into a monster movie by Ormond.

That's right, this was supposed to be a serious drama set in Mexico about plane crash survivors and whatnot, but Ormond saw the way the public was leaning in its tastes and decided to add a mad scientist and a giant spider. Said boffin was played by the biggest name they could find, future Addams Family star Jackie Coogan who had fallen on hard times in a scandal that had seen his fortune made as a child star alongside Charlie Chaplin frittered away by his corrupt parents, leaving him broke as an adult. Needless to say, he was unrecognisable from The Kid, but also as Uncle Fester since he buried himself in distracting makeup, glasses and facial hair. But we remember. It had to be said, if this was more accomplished then it would likely be unendurable, but seeing as how everyone involved was absolutely terrible it elevated the project to a level of compelling camp, from Lyle Talbot's mocking narration to the catchphrase-filled dialogue. Mesa of Lost Women was not for all tastes - you had to be an experienced bad movie lover before this was recommended to your choice of viewing. Most would never get that far. And that music? Composed by Hoyt Curtin, who wrote the theme for The Flintstones.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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