#24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991)
Nature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro Blu
Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Country of origin: Latvia
I blindly support every Mondo Macabro release. I don’t love all of them, but this niche label has been consistently releasing some of the most unique and interesting films from around the globe. They’ve largely specialized in what one might call Euro-trash, but that belittles the aspirations of films in their catalog like Symptoms, Alucarda and the psycho-sexual Latvian thriller Spider. That said, there’s also plenty of Jess Franco.
A young and inexperienced teenager, Vita, ventures to the studio of Albert, a shady and potentially unhinged artist, to sit for a portrait of the Virgin Mary. She’s been coerced into this position by her Catholic school priest who wants to champion the great artist, but fails to acknowledge his face-value corruptive potential. If a guy looks like a lunatic and talks like a lunatic…
She arrives at the studio where nude models pose for a variety of lascivious religious-themed tableaus, apparently in perpetuity. He’s an important artist. He can’t be rushed.
When Vita expresses some hesitation about exposing her sexuality to this unsettling stranger, he confronts her and states that she will never escape him until his work has been completed. Then her visions begin and the film takes a greasy thumb and blurs the line between exploitation and art.
One particularly unsettling sequence has her being assaulted by a massive, revolting oozing arachnid — I hesitate to use the term “raped” because that paints the scene with coarsely broad strokes. As the film serves as a metaphor for female sexual awakening — the monstrous, looming specter of male penetration — this scene in particular represents Vita’s confrontation with fear, confusion and latent desire.
As Vita’s libido increases so do the frequency and severity of the visions. As she continues her path of sexual discovery she must confront the “evil forces” tied to her burgeoning womanhood and exorcise the hold the artist has over her.
Final Spider Thoughts:
This unsettling meditation on teenage sexual awakening requires a little patience until the metaphor clicks into place and the film takes decided steps to embrace the poetry beyond the exploitation.
The church’s supporting role in this film as the enabler of corruption and the source of Vita’s shame provides essential context to her journey from innocence. It’s this component in particular that delivers Vasili Mass’ Spider (his only directorial credit) from assignation into the realm of exploitation. What we have instead is a rough gem that ventures deeply (and often disturbingly) into the realm of Freudian pyscho-sexuality.
30Hz Movie Rating:
This little Latvian thriller arrives courtesy of the good people at Mondo Macabro who do yeomen’s work keeping us stocked with wonderful and quirky slices of the world’s wildest cinema.
2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.
#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)