torsdag 7 januari 2010

Along Came The Little Spider And Its Lambs... Il nido del ragno

Professor Alan Whitmore is sent to Budapest in order to investigate the problems with a colleague working on a secret project. There he, quite literally, gets caught in the web of a viscious and ghastly spider god worshipping cult. Does it sound funny-hardy-har-har to you? On the contrary, Il nido del ragno (Spider Labyrinth, 1988) is a very well crafted horror film by a man named Gianfranco Giagni, during the last days of truly worthy Italian film making in many ways.

It's reminiscent of the old masterpieces by the likes of Bava and Argento, particularly in the way it's filmed with colours of red, blue, green and yellow; also the setting in an Eastern European capital provides the viewer with an engaging sense of gothic aura that makes the film even more beguiling. While being relatively artsy in its demeanor, Spider Labyrinth is neither idle, nor anemic: Early on we're confronted with a beautiful, young lady that spellbinds our hero in a notably suggestive and sensuous way; Professor Whitmore is furthermore confronted with a spider-like woman that he has to defeat and kill, for a purpose that is ultimately not known to him. Most of the strange and bizarre "humanoid arachnids" in the story are fearsome to behold, especially the earlier mentioned, red-haired woman with her yellowish fangs, demented countenance, shrieking cries and custom gluey spider-web saliva.

There are at least three scenes in the film that are especially prominent, in my opinion: The first is the murder of a young girl in a hall filled with white sheats, the killing a clear stab toward the Argento-esque; however, more so in the way another character crashes through a large window. The third scene is the pinnacle of the grotesque, a true piece of Grand Guignol madness -- the birth of the Spider God (John Carpenter fashion) from the dried-out husk of a small child's corpse -- its ghoulish special effects leaving Sergio Stivaletti guilty as charged.

Though not being short of violence and gore, the psychological factors of Il nido del ragno noteworthy ingredient: Aside from the mesmerizing young woman, her horrid companions and the story's allusions to the broken minds of Dario Argento, there is Alan Whitmore's horrifying experience of his childhood, being locked in a dark room along with a large, bristly spider -- a nightmarish experience that follows him and serves as a sign of foreboding throughout the film.

It's a bit strange why Spider Labyrinth has not yet seen the light of day in the DVD format. A good transfer from original source material should not be hard to find somewhere out there. The question is where and when to find people that could be interested in buying the copyright for this title that for long so long has been an unforgivingly neglected achievement.

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