Mesa of Lost Women.
Sounds like my office! Ha ha ha, I kid, of course.
Well, we start in media res (there I go going all technical) as a Handsome Guy is kissed by a Native Gal with huge long fingernails, as a Spanish guitar plays. I mean, someone offscreen (probably off set as well) plays a Spanish guitar.
So already we have smouldering passions. Pity we can’t place them in a context!
Anyway, Handsome collapses out of Gal’s arms, and she glares at the camera. A Narrator asks us, “Have you ever been [splice!] by a girl like this?” Now, that’s a problem, having a splice right were the verb was supposed to go! That is cruel, print! Anyway, we cut to the titles, in which J. Francis White, Jr, and Joy N. Houck present Mesa of Lost Women, a Ron Ormond Production. This is copyright MCMLII, so no stealing!
Our stars are Jackie Coogan, Allan Nixon and Richard Travis, and the narrator was none other than Lyle Talbot. And there are others, introducing Tandra Quinn, for example, and Chris Pin Mart, Delores Fuller, Dean Reisner (wasn’t he a screenwriter?), Mona McKinnon…I recognize some of these people as being from Ed Wood films, and that doesn’t fill me with confidence. Or Styrofoam.
”Written for the Screen” by Herbert Tevos. From what source, we’re not told. Music by Hoyt S. Curtin! You Hanna-Barbera fans should be happy to see that name, although so far it’s just a rapidly strummed guitar with a few piano accents, ie, it’s not very good. Orville Hampton (another writer) worked on this, so did effects man Ray Mercer. Blah Blah Blah. Directed by Mr. Tevos and Ron Ormond.
”Strained, the monstrous assurance of this race of puny bipeds with overblown egos,” Mr. Talbot says (seemingly the victim of another splice). “The creature that calls himself Man. He believes he owns the Earth, and every living thing on it exists only for his benefit.”
During this talk, we’ve been panning over some desert terrain, and now we see a man and a woman staggering along this very landscape.
”Yet how foolish he is,” Mr. Talbot goes on. “Consider: even the lowly insect that man trods underfoot outweighs humanity several times,” (Yeah, if you mean ALL of them), “and outnumbers him by countless billions.” (I guess he did.) Our man and woman are still staggering along. “In the continuing war for survival between man and the hexapods, only an utter fool would bet against the insect.” We see some guy with a shovel and some other mining stuff stride toward the camera. Wonder if he’s the hero. He seems to see something (perhaps the other two) as Mr. Talbot goes on. “Let a man or woman venture from the well-beaten path of civilization, let him cross the threshold of the limited intellect, and he encounters amazing, wondrous things.” Sounds like he’s talking about getting drunk. Hey, count me in! But Mr. Talbot says he was talking about, “The unknown and terrible.” (Like this movie.) Shovel Man watches the man and woman walk along the desolation. “If he escapes these weird adventures with his life, he will usually find he left his reason behind him. Perhaps that is what happened to these two souls, lost in the great Mexican desert. But then, ask yourself, why would anyone trod from the usually well-traveled roads of this modern age.” Shovel Guy runs off. “From the luxury of an air-conditioned automobile.” Shovel Guy runs to his jeep and jumps in the driver seat. Some guy with a hat next to him (apparently) continues napping. Mr. Talbot goes on. “It’s difficult for our modern world of statistics and electronics to accept miracles.” The jeep roars off. “But you could almost call this a miracle,” he says, as Man and Woman stagger into closeup, looking pretty beat up. “A genuine miracle. Out of hundreds and thousands of square miles of heat and seared wasteland, where the vultures wait for the other vultures to die…” The jeep stops, and we see that the other guy is Shovel Guy’s Mexican pal. “…an American oil surveyor has chose to explore this particular terrible corner of the earth. The Muerto Desert.” That may not be how it sounds on the soundtrack, but I’m sure that’s what he meant. “The Desert of Death,” Lyle confirms. “This surveyor can hardly credit his eyes.” The Jeep goes off again. “Perhaps they’re only illusive images, produced by roasting the optic nerve. But if they do exist, if they are living things from somewhere, one fact is certain.”
This damn thing is going to be narrated the whole way through, isn’t it? No no, don’t spare my feelings.
”Miracle or not,” Mr. Talbot says, as the jeep roars toward the couple, “they will not be living things for long. The Muerto Desert, true to its name, will soon convert them into dead things.” The jeep is almost to the couple, who collapse.
We fade to a sign that reads, AMER-EXICO FIELD HOSPITAL. Amer-Exico? Good heavens, what kind of stupid conglomeration of names…oh, never mind, I’m tired.
Anyway, inside the hospital, Shovel Guy, the guy we saw earlier collapsing (with the long fingernailed gal), Mexican Pal and another guy with a hat are tending to the couple in their hospital beds. The Man starts coughing and generally acting like he is unwell, or like he is going to narrate something.
Collapser says that the guy is coming out of his stupor, but Hat says that he doubts this is the case, that the sun probably “cooked” their brains. He avers how it is a “miracle” (damn it) that Pepe and Frank found them. I guess he means Amer-Exico Pal and Shovel Guy. Shovel Guy takes this opportunity to leave.
Collapser says that perhaps these two were from the crashed plane everyone was so on about. Everyone looks at Pepe like HE said it. Hat says the plane couldn’t have possibly landed where these two were found, as it was going in a different direction and stuff. Boy, just shoot down that theory with facts, Hat!
Collapser notes that they had to come from somewhere, which is logical, and he asks Pepe where he and Shovel Guy found them. “On the road to Sarpa Mesa,” he notes.
Woman starts moaning then, and she gets everyone’s attention. She’s the only chick in the movie after all, so far, other than that pre-credits one. And she can’t count until she actually appears.
Well, Man hates not being the center of attention, so he springs to consciousness and asks if the Woman is all right. Collapser notes how she hasn’t come out of it, like he did, but he opines that they’ll both be “all right,” and how he is in the hospital of an oil company. He gives Man a glass of water, and everyone nestles nearer to watch as he gulps it down. Me, I’m in a rock and roll band.
Hat asks the guy if he thought he was Superman, but he is being sarcastic, trust me on this one.
Well, Man mentions that if this is an oil company, can someone load the trucks with full drums and all the sparable men? He asks this somewhat intensely, grabbing shirts and all. “If we get there in time, maybe we can—“
”Burn ‘em out, before they scatter! That’s the only thing that scares ‘em, fire! But if we’re too late—“
Well, he never gets to finish this sentence as the others force him to relax a bit.
They all opine how he’s got himself some Space Madness or something, but he says, “You mentioned Superman. Well, these are Supermonsters! Or bugs as big as we are! They can kill you with one bite!”
Collapser, no doubt sensing his future scene, gets a thoughtful closeup. Pepe blinks almost continuously.
”What can?” asks Hat.
”These things,” Man repeats, though he seems a bit calmer and less sure of himself. Boy I wish I was dead.
”If they scatter before we get there,” Man says.
”Where will they come from?” asks Hat.
Man notes how “He has an underground lab up on Sarpa Mesa,” and Hat asks, “Who does?”
”Dr. Arrania,” Man says.
Well, Pepe gets a closeup and says, “Arrania? Ay caramba!” Way before Bart Simpson, take note.
Hat doesn’t take note, though, and insists that Man has Fried Brains for Brains. He also notes that no one has ever climbed up Sarpa Mesa.
Man counters that it can be reached by plane, and Collapser says “That’s the snore’s story, what have we got to lose?” Oh wait, I replayed it FIVE times and he says, “Let’s listen to his story, what have we got to lose?” Man, what an imbecile I am. No, thank you.
”It all started on the border, a few days back,” Man says, as we slowly track into his face. And the damn guitarist starts playing. Man notes how he was a pilot for some financier, and they were flying, and they got engine trouble and had to land near some town, and he was gonna “stay with the ship,” but the camera tracks into Pepe, and Mr. Talbot pipes up.
”Quite a story, isn’t it Pepe? You heard from your people about Sarpa Mesa, and mysterious Dr. Arrania, even though your bosses haven’t.”
The image starts to fade and shimmer to Pepe’s flashback. “So…why tell them?” asks Lyle Talbot. “They would only laugh at you, and say, poor Pepe. You’re getting old. But you heard for years about the grotesque and misshapen people, about the women, strange women who do not die.”
We see a car driving along a desert road. There’s a quick shot of some geeky guy hiding in some rocks. Then back to the car, driving.
”No, Grand Philip [I guess Lyle’s talking about Man] doesn’t know the whole story. You see, he came into it, late. It actually began, ooo, almost a year ago. The night Dr. Leland Masterson, the world famous specialist in Lisa [or “in research” though that makes less sense], found himself in the middle of the Muerto Desert. The Desert of Death!”
Yeah, we remember that from before. Get on with it!
We see the car park, and a woman gets out of the driver’s side. ”He came in answer to a rather mysterious summons, from a man he admired, but knew—“ Quick shot of geeky guy, then the No Doubt Doctor Masterson also getting out of the car, “—but only as a name signed to a series of brilliant scientific treatises—Arrania!”
”Oh, we’ve arrived!” says Doctor “Dense” Masterson. He’s got to be dense to drive all the way out here in the middle of the Desert of Death just because of some lectures. Why not meet in a bar somewhere? I’ll buy. Anyway, Dense takes his hat off, and together they look at the now Geekless rock formations.
”Your eyes must be playing tricks on you in this light,” says Lyle, as we pan up and see the Geek there, after all. “Is that what you think, Masterson? What is it you thought you saw?” Well, he looks a bit more and sees some Blonde in a diaphanous gown, scampering about the rocks. I guess they’re seeing it. We’re seeing it, and why shouldn’t they suffer too?
”Apparently, they’ve come correctly,” says Lyle. Nope, no idea what he means. Dense Masterson and the Chick He Brang start walking through the scrub to the mountain and its damned forbidden mesa and what not. “But to Masterson, it seems strange. A man with the genius of Arrania, building his laboratory in an inaccessible mountaintop in the middle of an uninhabited desert. But why Sarpa Mesa? Why Sarpa Mesa indeed!” Lyle answers unhelpfully. The Geeky guy starts climbing the rocks as Dense and Chick continue to approach.
”A natural question, Doctor, and one that was soon to be answered,” Lyle notes. “Though in a way,” he goes on, “so fantastic and horrible, as to make a man of science doubt his senses.” Geeky guy comes to a hole in the rock face, and clambers within. He comes out of another hole, and starts walking down a crude ladder. He appears to be wearing shoddy loafers and no socks. Loser.
He reaches the ground floor, passes a woman looking into a microscope, and gives us a good look at him. Why, that’s no loser, it’s Angelo Rossitto, professional dwarf in cheap movies. Look him up on the IMDB some time. You probably saw him in that Mad Max movie.
Back outside, Dense and his Chick are still wandering around. Hey, whatever pays the bills, right? They come across a huge opening in the mountainside and clamber within. It looks like the same cave Angelo was in. At any rate, Dense clambers in, the Chick smiles with satisfaction, as if she’s lured him to his doom (couldna been that hard) and turns away.
Apparently we skipped some stuff, as now Angelo is introducing Dense to a dark haired woman, possibly the same one who was microscopin’ mere moments ago. Dense does all the talking. Finally he sits down, and noting Angelo’s stare, he offers him his hat, and Angelo kind of looks at like he’s never seen a hat before. This is possible.
A further word on the musical score. It has become incredibly irritating. It’s the same mad riffing on a Spanish guitar, with an occasional piano blump tossed in, as if someone were throwing golf balls at the piano and occasionally hit a key. The guitarist plays as if he is trying to scrub rust off the strings. That’s all it is, over and over, constantly, while people are talking and everything.
Anyway, back to this, Dense is waiting for Dr. Arrania to show up and stuff. He decides to skip the sitting and wanders around the room. The same woman who was microscopin’ is still at it, and she is not the one who was at the door, earlier. In case you’re writing this down on a score card, like one of those logic puzzles. The woman who is microscopin’ has a spider haircut, so let’s call her Spidera. Anyway, Dense sees another woman, with lighter hair, and he sort of reaches toward her like he’s gonna check her out, and she recoils from this. As most folks would, I think. There are a number of apparatuses (apparati?) in the room, and some spider motifs as well.
Dense continues his wandering, and on the soundtrack, another golf ball hits the mark as what is no doubt Dr. Arrania appears. He is bald on top, has a beard and glasses, and one of his eyes is sort of melted. I think this is Jackie Coogan, later best known as Uncle Fester.
Dense hasn’t noticed the new arrival. “Nervous Systems of Insects,” he reads off a book spine. Dr. Arrania puts his glasses back on and the two greet each other. They make small talk about the trip, while Arrania takes off and puts on his glasses. When Dense makes note of the remote locale, Arrania responds, “The sentimental human mind being what it is, this is the only sort of a place I could find to carry on my work.”
Ooh, that should send up a big red warning flag! What kind of work could this be! Let’s find out!
The two of them compliment each other on their work, Arrania’s being several theories on the endocrine system (glands and things for you laypeople) while Dense is the world’s foremost “organotherapist” which sounds as made-up as my spellchecker thinks it is. I bet Dense is actually a usability-engineer! It is too a real job!
At any rate, or rather because of, Dense “jumped at the chance” to work with Arrania on his theories.
Arrania turns serious. These, he says, “are not theories.”
Well, Dense seems to take that down the wrong pipe, and starts sputtering. Arrania goes on to note, as he looks at Staring for a while, that he has proven every point in his, uh, stuff (can’t call it theories or he’ll get mad).
(“Staring” is how we’ll refer to the dark haired gal who met Angelo and Dense when they entered. She just seems to stare all the time.)
Dense asks if Arrania has produced “these…these things?” Arrania says yep, and Dense notes, “So my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me!”
Arrania calmly notes that this is the reason why his research must be carried out inside a mountain top, amid desolation. Well…sure! Makes sense to me. At least it will, when I open this next beer.
Arrania says that he’s completing his next experiment (promoted as his “most unusual”) and he asks if Dense would like to watch? Well, Dense is all over this. He’s sure ready to watch all right!
So the two of them go into another room (in the mountain) which has bubbling fluids and beakers, and twins for Spidera and the Touch Me Not (the gal who recoiled when Dense tried to poke her). Arrania goes over to a gal on the operating table, opens her eye, and says (basically) any time now. (This woman looks a lot like Katherine Victor from Teenage Zombies. A quick check through Weldon shows she is.)
Dense asks what this experiment is all about, and honestly, it sounds like the actor forgot his line.
Arrania starts talking about how he’s isolated the growth factors from the pituitary gland. Dense peeks around, no doubt looking for his cue cards, and Arrania explains (while again we get a shot of Staring) that he was wondering about the effect of this growth factor either from or toward “another creature.” I must confess, when they start technobabblin’ I tend to tune those eggheads out. “Star Trek The Next Generation,” what is your legacy now!
Arrania notes that his experiments were successful on “lower animals” but a “complete failure” when he tried them on birds. One day, though, he was experimentin’ along, minding his own business, when he suddenly tried his methods on the hexapods (insects, if you’ve forgotten). He says that he got “amazing results” with…tarantulas.
<Kif Kroker> Sigh. </Kif Kroker>
Tarantulas are not hexapods, as the Latin root words mean “six footed.” Even the dullest of schoolboys (no names, please) knows that tarantulas have eight legs, which would make them octopods. Well, naturally the film-makers couldn’t use that name, as it would conjure up visions of octopuses, but WHY not simply say “arachnids”?
Well, back to this hexapod. I mean, movie. Arrania goes at a big clip o’ explanation here, noting that not only was he able to create tarantulas the size of a person, but that he could control them telepathically! And the he found he could “reverse” this, so I guess he could…uh, do other stuff. He doesn’t quite say, but if you’re not as dense as Dense, you’re probably looking at these various silent women in a whole new way. No, no, I’m not talking about that! Sheesh, you people!
Arrania asks Dense to look at Staring a bit closer. He says that she not only possesses various human characteristics, she also has the “indestructibility” of the insects. This trait will be news to anyone who has ever wielded a shoe ‘gainst the twilight hexapod troops in the kitchenette. Ie, they’re not all that indestructible, individually.
Arrania explains that Staring could lose an arm and re-grow it, and probably live for hundreds of years, and Dense’s only question is, “Well, what about males?” You darned old horndog!
Arrania notes that most arthropod males are unimportant and puny things. Dense comes out of his density to note that this must be “the dwarfs!” Arrania says that his latest experiment should result in a “super female spider.” With a three movie deal and ten percent of the gross.
Arrania starts flicking some switches. He notes that this creature will have a thinking brain, but it will be subject to his will. That darn chauvenist! He flicks a final switch (I hope) and the lady on the operating table raises her arm, then raises her entire self from the operating table, and looks pretty severely disappointed at this brave new world that has such people in it. Arrania helps her up.
She stretches and moves off camera, and then Arrania shows Dense a man-sized spider wearing a t-shirt. Honestly, that’s what it is. I suspect it is a novelty t-shirt, but of course, we the viewers, having been denied entertainment, are also denied what this shirt might say. I vote for “I’m with Stupid!” and an arrow.
Dense recoils in disgust. “Well, are you convinced, doctor?” asks Arrania.
Well, Dense proves pretty dense as he says “No” a bunch of times, claims that these things can’t be done as they’re against the will of the Creator, and so on. He then starts talking about “evil” and “ghastly experiments” while Staring prepares a syringe in the background. Dense, dense right up to the last! That’s what I like in my main characters! Well, actually, I don’t but anything to shut up that damn guitar player, please.
Arrania turns to the camera as the shot is delivered. He really looks like he’s going to say, “And now, kids, a word from our sponsors!” but just after he opens his mouth he seems to think better of this, and turns back to see Dense now collapsed on the floor.
Arrania says this was “regrettable” and mentions he had “hoped for a colleague” but puts a bright spin on things by realizing he has a new experimental subject.
And since footage wasted makes the Devil sob, we see Dense’s face superimposed as some shots from what we just saw are played over again. Finally, the Spinning Newspaper of Exposition arrives, and says “[Do]ctor saved from Desert Deat[h]” and a story notes how “Leland Masterson [we all know and love him as Dense]’s Mind Snaps Under Ordeal; Confined to Asylum.” Also, “Cabinet Crises Causes Return” and other stuff I can’t decipher. I’ve…I’ve let everyone down! Sob! Though only a little sob, barely audible. You fools!
Well, enough of that, as we’re now in the Asylum, and some beefy guy is delivering orange juice to Dense, but Dense has made one of those ropes of sheets and has fled the coop! Probably in a coupe.
We fade to some Mexican night club where people are dancing to music that ISN’T THE SAME DAMNABLE CRAP WE’VE BEEN HEARING ALL NIGHT…ALL ETERNITY!
I think Dense moves through the crowd (it’s hard to tell, he’s wearing a natty hat). He comes to the bar and uses his own glass as he asks for a drink, “your very best.”
Staring watches from somewhere else in the bar. Dense pays for his scotch with a very big bill, at least that is what I gather from the bartender’s effusive thanks. Boy there’s no hope for me, is there? That’s a rhetorical question.
Both Dense and Staring note the entrance of a nice, expensive-looking couple. I don’t think they’re anyone we’ve seen before. Oh good, more extraneous stuff.
The woman is blonde, and I think perhaps we saw her staggering across the desert in the early parts of this film. The guy is balding, mustachioed, nondescript, though vaguely reminiscent…then he opens his mouth. My God, I wonder if that’s Roger C. Carmel, a/k/a Harry Mudd? Wow, something of interest!
A waiter brings them to “the best table in the house” but he has to clear some riff-raff from the table first. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but don’t poke it as it may be still alive and in a bad humor.
They settle in to the table and I’m seeing less of Harry Mudd. Oh well, it was a nice dream. She complains about how the place is a dump, and how if it wasn’t for that “forced landing” she and he would have been married by now. Yes, this sounds like a relationship built for the ages.
They chat some more while Dense stares almost as intently as Staring. But Dense gets off to the big start as he approaches the table and introduces himself. He then starts talking to Blonde about how pretty she is, which doesn’t set will with Non-Mudd. Non-Mudd complains about his plane to the servant who shows up and says it will be some time before it’s ready. The servant and Staring nod at each other. Oh ho, collusion! Or bad editing. Whatever.
Remember Arrania said he could control his subjects telepathically, and I bet that’s what’s happening with Dense.
Some guy throws a match into the fireplace, and this signals the band that they’re needed, so they start playing a fanfare type song. Oh, I can hardly wait to see what happens next! Well, actually, if you’re asking, I can wait quite a bit, weeks even.
Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry—oh, sorry I was just singing until something interesting happens. Let me rephrase that, singing until something worth writing down happens. Reviewer cracked corn and he is great, take that you stupid corn!
Well, Staring gets up from her table, tosses her cigarette vampishly away and strides to the center of the room (as the bartender pours into a glass that has long since overflowed—ha ha ha, it’s funny. I kid). She gets a slow pan up her (pretty nice) body and I guess she’s going to do some dancing. Yep, that she does. The guy with the golf balls manages to time some chords as she tosses her head this way and that. Everyone stares as if they’ve never seen a dance this bad before, or like they don’t know what a hooker looks like. Some kind of Roy Schieder looking guy sits at the table with Dense, Blonde and Non-Mudd, and starts talking about how he (Dense) has been missed by him (Roy) and the rest of the boys, including Dr. Harrison. No, not Dr. Harrison!
Well, Dense says he doesn’t want to see Dr. Harrison, and he names Roy “George” so let’s use that, as it’s a nice name and everything. George says he’s Dense’s nurse, and I do seem to recall him at the asylum but…no matter. Dense says, “Now, George, I wouldn’t do that; you see…I like this lady.” Whether he means Staring or Blonde, who knows or cares, but we get to finish up with Staring’s dance, now accompanied by better (or at least more frequent) piano playing and some bongos, too.
Dense asks Non-Mudd if he likes Staring, and Non-Mudd notes that she’s “fascinating…as a dancer” he quickly appends. Dense says he doesn’t like Staring, and he says it through clenched teeth.
As I write this letter, send my love to you, remember that I’ll always, be in love with you.
Sorry, I was doing it again. Sorry.
Dense shoots Staring, which as you might imagine causes a bit of panic. George tries to talk reason to the mesmerized fool, but he’s beyond all that, etc. He points the gun at Blonde and says that she’s his friend. But he keeps the gun pointed at her. As Staring finally dies, he leads Blonde, Non-Mudd and George out to George’s waiting car. He tells Blonde that he won’t let them get to her. She says they should get to the airport, and he agrees to take them there. Man this is dull. They all get into the car.
Inside the bar, a guy calls the cops. He watches as Staring gets up off the floor and leaves the bar. He does one of those double takes that would, no doubt, have all of you rolling in the aisles if I bothered to type it up properly, but you know you can never count on me, I don’t know why you keep hoping. It sure doesn’t make me feel good!
The car pulls up alongside a plane, and everyone gets out. Non-Mudd confirms with the pilot that the plane isn’t air-worthy yet, but ol’ Dense wants to fly, and he doesn’t like the word “No” so everyone gets on board anyway. “I command, and thou shalt obey!” he says.
You know the worst bit…er, one of the worst bits is, Non-Mudd opened the door for Dense, and as Dense was easing out of the car, Non-Mudd could have slammed the door on him, thus knocking away the gun and ENDING THE MOVIE right now. I hope everyone dies painfully.
The cops roar to the airfield but they make no impact on this…thing. They show up too late and everyone’s flying. (I think the pilot is the guy we saw staggering across the desert with Blonde, way at the beginning of this.) And that servant from the nightclub, earlier, he’s on board too. He sure looks evilly pleased about something. It’s a whole regular party.
Pilot notes that someone has tampered with the equipment, and they’re a hundred degrees off course. And the left engine is going bad! But he tells everyone not to worry.
But then the engine starts smoking a lot more, so Pilot has to land somewhere. Non-Mudd asks if there’s a good place to land, and Pilot says he’s going to try for “that mesa” in the area. Oh, I bet it is a mesa of lost women! Servant looks happy at this news.
There’s some chatter in the plane from everyone, but Pilot says he’s gotta land and he’s gotta land now, so he lands on the Mesa. We get some shots of Angelo and some Other Mesa Inhabitant looking pleased at this development.
Everyone gets out of the downed plane. Pilot helps them out, one by one, including Dense, and no one thinks to just smack him a good one. Idiots. Everyone speaks, and notes that their lines were overdubbed in a recording studio with echo on for some reason, but Non-Mudd attributes this reverb to the forest around them. Uh…yeah.
Pilot and George have a bit of a chat about Dense, noting how he’s all mental and stuff yet has a gun.
Everyone then gathers together and recites some dialogue. They’re in Mexico, on a mesa 600 feet above the rest of the desert. Dense likes it. Servant goes off with malice in his eye, and he (oh, the cad!) gathers firewood. He looks up and sees Spidera.
Back with our stranded castaways, Pilot notes he should get the flare. He goes almost to the edge of the frame, but stops. Blonde Spider Lady moves through the jungle.
Everyone reacts as if the script told them to react. They all think this is pretty bad, and Blonde notes that, if this were a dream, it’s her worst nightmare. More chat. Lots more chat, as Servant returns with some wood, and Pilot goes into the cabin to get some stuff. He comes out with a flare gun and a flask of something he offers to Blonde, who is darn grateful.
He then fires the flare into the air, and it turns out, it was a fireworks gun, because that is what the footage shows us. A quick shot shows Angelo delighted by the pyrotechnics on display.
Everyone else wonders if the show was seen (and reviewed) by anyone who matters at all. Blonde decides top get drunk. I’m with ya baby!
Everyone but Dense decides to have a swig as well. Dense asks about food, and is told there isn’t any.
George decides to roam around in the dark, guided only by the light of his cigar (he uses this method “all the time”). Dense notes, to Blonde, that it is past his dinner time and he is feeling neglected or cranky or something…what I’d like him to feel is the digestive acids of a giant spider stomach, but when have I ever been catered to? Never, that’s when.
Blonde repeats to Dense that there’s no food, and Dense counters that “George will bring it. He always does.”
We cut to George stalking through the thick undergrowth, then back to the group at camp wondering what they’re going to do.
Well, they could borrow Dense’s gun and shoot themselves, then shoot the survivors. Hey, it’s a thought. A bad thought, yes, but better than anything this movie has had! HA!
Cut to George in the jungle some more. His “cigar as a source of light” idea seems to be a pretty stupid one. I mean, it is as dark around as this movie’s black heart.
The pianist, though, is suddenly handed a whole bucket of golf balls and strikes some dramatic chords, which is the perfect accompaniment, as…um, nothing happens.
And some more nothing happens, as George continues his fruitless trek through the woods, but then we see Spidera, Touch Me Not, and Angelo, all kind of looking like, well, like they need direction. Badly.
Angelo nods at someone, and a giant spider leg goes past his face! Wow, that was almost kind of interesting or exciting.
Back at the campsite, Pilot lights Blonde’s cigarette, and she tells him how she can fend for herself. They banter a bit as Dense sits right in the middle of them all NOT PAYING ATTENTION and yet NO ONE BELTS HIM or even tries anything other than using up footage. Sad. Very, very sad. You fools could end this movie now!
Back to George, poking through the jungle. He looks off camera and starts screaming, and back with our stranded castaways, they react to his screams. Pilot wants to run off and help, and Blonde wants to come with, the others all think hanging around the plane sounds like a nice way to pass the time. Everyone pretty much ignores Dense, which is what he deserves. Dense decides everyone should go, so everyone does, and they all hold hands while going through the jungle. No skipping or nursery rhymes, though, and no one has a note pinned to their clothes. Please bring diapers, parents!
And there they go, through the jungle and all. Yep, they’re going through the WILL SOMEONE SHUT THAT DAMN GUITAR UP jungle and it’s pretty dark so we’re…we’re getting sleepy, so sleepy, we’re all so tired, so very tired, our eyes are heavy, so heavy, so heavy we can’t keep them open.
Some hours later, we awaken, and they’re still traipsing through the jungle. They come to what Pilot describes as “a black, gaping hole” which is probably where the script came from.
We cut to a midget, joining a cluster of other midgets. O….kay.
Back to the conga line, they’re discussing this “end of the trail” thing. Pilot sees some kind of ledge, so he goes across, and finds George. Dead, of course. Somehow George managed to avoid the “black, gaping hole” but whatever, who cares, end you stupid movie, now!
Cut to a spider lady, with huge black nails, clawing some foliage away from her face. Then back to Pilot. Hey, you shot the footage, you should use it, you know, otherwise you wasted your money. (Like I did.)
Pilot heads back to where the others are and helps them across the black, gaping hole. All of this in real time. They discuss what might have killed George, and end up hoping they don’t have to find out. Me, I hope it kills all of you, right now. In color.
They all decide that, George being dead and thus “beyond help,” they should go back to the plane and wait for help. My God, did someone just suggest something sensible?
So, they all head back to the plane. I guess we’re going to be lucky and see all that walking through the jungle footage again!
We get some quick shots of spider ladies running around, also some panicked midgets. Our castaways stop, complain about spooky noises, then start going again. Non-Mudd gets a scratch on his arm, and Pilot suggests staying away from thorns. Then, Blonde has a skirt AND heel mishap, and ends up in Pilot’s arms. Didn’t see that one coming, did you, Timmy? You can leave now, Timmy.
So, more traipsing. Oh JOY. We get to see the entire reverse journey, just like we saw the first time out. And we’re back at the plane! Blonde’s asking for a drink, and Pilot avers that “we all could use a drink” and boy do I concur with that! Make mine a double. No, a triple!
So, everyone takes a long draw on the ol’ booze bottle. How I envy them! And we cut to Dr. Arrania, in his lab, looking at various test tubes and apparently not at all happy at what they contain. Well, they probably don’t contain liquor drinks, so it is understandable.
Behind him, Spidera descends the ladder, and comes up behind him, and looks all ready to speak at him, and AWWW, looks like the budget got cut so she doesn’t get any lines. We cut immediately to the castaways. They talk about how there’s nothing to do. You’re telling me? Pilot suggests everyone get some sleep. Keep going the way you are and that will be a certainty. No one really wants to sleep, so they can wake in the belly of a giant spider, and they remind Pilot (who has offered to stand guard) that their lives are in his hands. And I’ve got five dollars if you’ll kill them all now, Pilot.
Everyone, including Dense, goes off to grab forty winks. No one thinks to disarm him, of course. And we get a nice slow pan of everyone sleeping.
Back to Arrania, who says, “Very good, my dear, very good. Soon their nerves will break.” And Spidera goes back up the latter, followed by other spider women.
Back at the plane, Blonde wakes up, and she and Pilot make eyes at each other. They also make small talk. She asks him why he ignores her. She hates this. “Do you really dislike me that much?” she asks.
”I don’t dislike you,” he says.
”But you don’t approve of me, is that it? You think I’m marrying him for his money.”
After a pause, Blonde says, “I’m very fond of him.”
”But you don’t love him.”
”Well, I’m not exactly mad about him, if that’s what you mean. But I am fond of him!”
”And, he can give you nice things!”
”Yes…why not! He can give me security, for one thing. That’s important…don’t you think?”
”Why should you care what I think?”
”I don’t, exactly, it’s just that…I’d like you to understand me.”
Suddenly, midgets position themselves for attack. That is the greatest sentence ever associated with this film.
Pilot and Blonde are alarmed at the noise, but then go back to their chat. She insists that he cannot understand her, but he says he’s had a hard life too and so he does understand. And the chat goes on, and Pilot admits, “I want a girl who’s sincere.” Ba-ZING. I wonder if this knife will cut my wrists? Hang on.
Well, Pilot and Blonde kiss. They both immediately regret it, and thank the heavens, there’s a jump cut! Everyone is awake now, and asking Blonde what she saw. She says she saw some strange women, and little men, but they’re all gone now and everyone’s all, Whoah, Blonde, cut back a bit. Non-Mudd notes that Blonde is missing her comb. She says it must have come off back in the jungle, when they were wandering around so pointlessly.
Well, Non-Mudd says they gotta find this comb, since “I gave it to you!” and it’s apparently a valuable heirloom. Servant guy is elected to go, and he asks for the flashlight. Pilot tells him he’s a fool to go, and Servant guy responds that “He who serves well, will also serve in danger.”
Dense gives Servant his gun, and everyone wishes Servant well, and Servant says, “There is a day to be born, and a day to die.” And he goes off into the woods to look for a comb. I hope that sounds as stupid to you as it does to me, because I’d feel real lonely otherwise.
Back at the camp, Blonde says she’ll never wear that comb, and Pilot is pretty steamed, and Non-Mudd turns on Dense for some reason. Pilot separates them, and everyone is pretty mad at Non-Mudd.
And we cut to Servant, climbing along the same route that Angelo used years ago when this movie was in its infancy.
Sure enough, Servant talks to Arrania; he has done well. Arrania has plans for Dense, Blonde and Pilot, the “others” are useless. Since the “others” consist of Non-Mudd, well, bad for him, I guess.
Arrania looks up at Servant. “What’s the matter, Wu?” he asks, and Servant turns to leave. But some spider women attack him and drag him away…and we cut to Pilot moving through the brush.
I guess he comes across Servant’s body, because said body is clutching some jewelry or a watch or something (maybe a comb), and…well, that must mean something. Pilot returns to the camp and throws the jewelry at Non-Mudd, and Blonde intuits that Servant is dead. “No, I sent him to get a keg,” Pilot responds…in your dreams.
Well, Non-Mudd covers his face in his hands, but everyone hates him anyway, and then…the script says something happens, and everyone is alarmed and waiting for whatever is out there to attack. Pilot admits he is scared, and Blonde notes that Non-Mudd must be even scareder, but Non-Mudd snaps and says, “I’m getting out of here!”
Despite the protests of the others, he runs into the jungle, and right into the waiting arms of a giant spider. Or perhaps, the giant spider. It jumps on him.
At the camp, the other three are attacked by a band of midgets and spider women, and we cut to Dr. Arrania, readying a syringe. He injects this into Dense (wow, that was a quick battle royale), and notes to the assembled spider women, midgets and prisoners that Dense will soon be perfectly sane. But he doesn’t honestly think this will make a lot of difference. Me neither.
Arrania says he (Dense) tried to kill Staring, and everyone notes that Staring is alive and well. Someone calls Arrania by his name, and Pilot says, “Arrania, that’s Spanish for spider!”
Dense starts to come out of his stupor, and wonders why Arrania didn’t kill him. Arrania says he needs Dense’s help (how not to hold a gun?) and hopes he’ll change his mind about helping. He says no, though, so Arrania sics Staring on him. But Blonde says that she’ll protect him! And she arm wrassles Staring, as Pilot restrains Arrania and Dense goes to where the beakers are. He mixes a couple until they smoke, and tells Arrania he’ll blow everything up! Arrania asks if he (Dense) will destroy science’s greatest achievement, but Dense seems to be on a destroying kick and will not be told nay.
Pilot asks what’s going on, and Dense spits out an explanation so rapid it would be pointless to try to replicate it here; he tells Pilot and Blonde to get the heck out of there, as there are only seconds before his homemade bomb blows up. So Pilot and Blonde scoot, Dense throws his bomb, we get some fire in front of the lens, we see the giant spider over (I think) Arrania, and then we fade to Pilot finishing his story. A story that Pepe started, but what the hell at this point.
”I don’t know how long we stumbled and staggered across that desert,” he admits. Then he notes that no one seems to be buying his yarn.
But Blonde wakes up, and is glad that the two of them made it out alive. Pilot notes that no one believes him, except Pepe, but no matter as everyone is all right and fine and stuff.
Guy with Hat notes that he’s going to truck on up to that mesa, imaginary spiders or not.
”Yes, you’re right, Dan,” Lyle Talbot comes on the soundtrack to say. “Common sense tells you there isn’t anything to his story, doesn’t it? Giant spiders on a desert mesa! Fantastic! Pepe is just a superstitious native. True, no one has ever been on Sarpa Mesa, but it’s just like any other bit of table land. Not a thing different about it.” Cut to a blonde spider lady on the rocks. “Or, is there?” Lyle asks. And we fade to a cast listing. Wu, the Servant, was played by Samuel Wu. And it’s The End!
Wow. Never much before has so little happened in the running time of a movie. Just for you, I should note that I transcribed every (non-spliced) word that Lyle Talbot said. So there’s some use to what I’ve written here.
The only good thing at all about this was its relatively brief running time. Had this been ten or twenty minutes longer, like some Hercules films I could mention, I probably would have broken under the strain. To be fair, those Herc films look like maserworks of modern cinema by comparison. Somewhere in one of his books, Bill Warren said of a film that its makers only cared about exposing enough film to make something releasable. This seems clearly the case, here.
To the whole thing, I say simply this: bah.
The presence of so many Ed Wood veterans (Lyle Talbot, Mona McKinnon, Delores Fuller) shouldn’t be taken as meaning this is at all fun, like Ed Wood’s films. Don’t waste your time, unless you like wasting your time so fruitlessly.
Finally, I have to ask this…what’s with the scene at the very beginning, where a guy who looks vaguely like one of the folks in the hospital is killed by a spider woman? There wasn’t any shot like that in the actual story part of the film. Unless…it was the guy from the hospital, and this was a shot for a projected sequel.
At such a prospect, the brain screams in terror.