Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The Spider Labyrinth (1988)
The Spider Labyrinth (1988), AKA Il Nido del Ragno, made me wonder; was Eastern Europe always considered a creepy looking place, or do we just think that because it is the traditional setting for so many horror films?
Atmosphere is the name of the game in this spider’s web, and this type of film should be viewed for just that and not with so much of a critical eye. This is true for most Italian horror films, and this is one of the last of the great European gothic horrors, even though it takes place in the present. Budapest is the setting for this tale of the occult, combined with a giallo type plot, and a few stop motion monsters. The gore is not over the top, except for in the final reel, and then it gets downright disgusting.
The plot follows an American archaeologist researching an ancient religion that seems to have shown up in seemingly unconnected locations. He travels to Budapest to coordinate with another researcher and stumbles upon a pagan cult. They worship giant subterranean spider monsters that possess humans and get them to carry out their dirty work and spread the religion. Sound strange? It is.
There is lots of cool camera work and eerie settings, and Budapest’s inhabitants looked like the same villagers that chased Frankenstein with pitchforks and torches. The movie reminded me of other movies about cults sworn to protect religious secrets such as The Ninth Gate or The Da Vinci Code.
My main motivation in seeking out this film was one photograph from the movie. The back cover of the book “Spaghetti Nightmares” features a gruesome, bloody still from the movie of a man with a butcher knife and a mouth full of fangs. I knew right away that I had to see this film.
Sadly, The Spider Labyrinth is a very obscure movie, even for Italian horror fans. The copy I watched was downloaded and appeared to be VHS rip of a copy from Midnight Video, with hardcoded Japanese subtitles at the bottom of the screen. The picture quality left a lot to be desired. With such a small amount of information available about this film I regret that I cannot offer many hard facts. The Internet movie database says the US DVD release is cut by about 20 minutes, but that website has been known to contain errors. Aside from downloads, the only other way to obtain a copy of this movie is to order a bootleg DVD from one of the various online companies.