Mesa of Lost Women (1953)





So, let's imagine that you're hungry one night. You go to the fridge, but all that's in there is an old take-out box from Applebee's containing a half-eaten hunk of steak that, for some reason, you just had to take home with you. It's been in there for a week and seems a bit dry and leathery. You're not sure it's even edible anymore, but you are really, really hungry (this story assumes that you do not, in fact, still live in your parents' basement, which might rule out 75% of my reading audience). Ah, but you're in luck, because you do have a tupperwear full of curry you stole from the fridge in the breakroom at work the other day. And Rajit knows how to cook up a mean curry, so you just know it's yummy. So you plop the desiccated steak on a plate and pile it high with your pilfered curry and put it in the microwave. Ding. Well, it doesn't look that bad now. The curry smells nice, and what you can see of the steak poking out of the pile doesn't look all that horrible. So you eat it, quickly, as your cats are circling like vultures, and wash it down with some lukewarm Zima. It's only a few hours later that you begin to regret your decision to eat that steak, curry or no curry. And later still, as the diarrhea is volcanoing out of your anus at amazing velocities, you fully comprehend your mistake in trying to mix new stuff with old stuff. And then your gums start bleeding.

Mesa of Lost Women is almost exactly like that. From what I can determine (and the sources differ on the details), a director started filming something about mutants and a mad scientist back around 1949 or '50 or so, but ran out of money and had to pull the plug (and probably had to file for bankruptcy or hide out in Tijuana for a while). A few years later, in early 1953, another director (this one with some money and some connections) bought up the old footage (the fetid steak, if you will) and shoehorned in enough newly-shot footage (Rajit's yummy curry) to make a rough approximation of a feature-length movie. In the hands of a deft filmmaker, such a trick can turn out pretty well (witness the first Godzilla movie and some of Corman's Eurasian buy-ups), but, unfortunately for us all, the people associated with Mesa of Lost Women were like a dark room full of drunken blacksmiths. And much like that culinary concoction, watching their attempts at Frankensteining all that disconnected footage into Mesa of Lost Women can only result in you parked on the toilet, bucket in hand, tears and blood mingling freely. You have been warned.

Anyway, on to the show!

We open in the Mexican desert, a desolate and arid wasteland filled with scorpions and coyotes (of both types). An ever-present voice-over guy helpfully tells us what we are seeing, because, you know, we'd never know this was a desert unless he told us. Thanks, guy. When did the voice-over go out of style? Not that I'm not glad it's gone, it rarely improved a movie's plot enough to justify its presence, and always seemed to me like a cheap way to avoid having to write decent character dialogue. Can you imagine a voice-over in Star Wars or Iron Man?


Very desert-y.

Oh, oh, oh, and I cannot go any further until I rage about the annoying-as-fuck guitar music, which seems to never, ever stop playing, regardless of what is happening on screen. It's like the worst mariachi cover band working the floor of the cheesiest Mexican restaurant known to man, or like having Antonio Banderas in that most egotistical Desperado stage of his career sitting in your lap playing his flamencio guitar incessantly while your soul withers. I'm not sure what sadist decided this would be a good soundtrack decision, but I've never wanted to punch another human being in the face more than I do that guy.


This soundtrack needs 100 cc's of Yanni! Stat!

Ok, so, anyway, we see this guy and this chick stumbling through the desert, looking all ragged and exhausted. Why are they there? I don't know. Why is the lady wearing heels? I have no idea. Why are neither of them sunburned in the least? Pssht. Just know that they are near death and if something doesn't happen soon they're going to be bleached disarticulated skeletons covered in buzzard beak scratches. Her hair looks nice, though.


If he wasn't so scrawny, he'd pick her up and carry her like a true 1950's man.

Luckily for them, in this very same patch of sand and scrub is an American oil prospector! And he has a jeep, which is handy. The oil guy picks up the wanderers and takes them back to the oil company's field hospital. I should probably take a few moments here to mention how, considering how contentious foreign investment in the oil business was since Mexico nationalized its petroleum industry in 1938, these American might very well be illegally in the country (not that it really matters, though).


Nice jeep.

Anyway, the guy regains his senses first, thanks to the nurse's House-like application of a wet washcloth on his forehead. The guy is desperate that they should go back and kill off the mutant monster spider-women, babbling on and on about how they'll take over the world if they don't. The Americans just nod their heads and smile at the crazy person, but Pepe, the wise old local vaquero with the sombrero, knows the legends of what he speaks. So the guy begins to tell his fantastic story in a flashback. Now this is actually a joint review, and I'll turn it over now to the lovely and talented Pam to explain the guy's twisted story...


That's some fine doctorin'.

Hi, it's Pam. The guy explains that the mysterious mesa cannot be climbed, but he got there in an airplane that landed on the mesa because it had engine trouble. Pepe looks as though he already knows what the guy is going to find there, suggesting that whatever it is, it's been around for quite some time. Pepe, by the way, is a walking Mexican stereotype, a pudgy Frito-Bandido kind of guy in a sombrero, but then those are the kind of people that always know things that we sophisticated Americans don't, aren't they? We all know that Pepe is right and the haughty Americans are wrong, so we can agree right now that there really are dangerous mutant spider-women on the mesa, turn off this piece of recycled garbage, and go watch something good. I'll see you all later...


Pepe.

Sorry, Nate says I'm not allowed to quit in mid-review. Something about "indentured servitude?" Oh, well, I tried. Back to the movie, beginning of flashback. Which seems to be someone else's flashback, because instead of a man in a sputtering airplane, we are introduced to a Dr. Leland Masterson, driving along a desert road. In case you were wondering, Dr. Masterson is not the guy in the hospital, so who knows what he's doing in the flashback, but whatever. The car stops and Dr. Masterson gets out, accompanied by his young female driver, whose presence is otherwise unexplained. All we see is him staring blankly at a large rocky hill, but the helpful voiceover informs us that he's flabbergasted that the eminent researcher, Dr. Aranya, would build his laboratory in such an inaccessible spot. So, okay, this means that the good Dr. Aranya is pretty well known in his field, whatever that is.


Masterson.

Dr. Masterson sees two figures climbing on the rocks. One is a very short man, in fact a dwarf, the other is a blonde woman dressed with extreme inappropriateness for rock-climbing in a long white dress and high heels(!). Dr. Masterson seems to be the dreamy, impractical sort of scientist, because he accepts the rock-climbing dwarf and the well-dressed blonde simply as signs that he's come to the right place. Not bothering to ask them any questions, he strides off confidently across the desert, impeccably dressed in a suit and tie. His female companion follows him. She has yet to say one word.


That's a chick on the wall.

Luckily for Dr. Masterson, the guy in the hospital was wrong about the mesa being unclimable. The good doctor is either an expert tracker who can detect faint signs of a trail that most people can't see, or he's unbelievably lucky, because he arrives at a wooden door somewhere in the pile of rocks. He is completely matter-of-fact as the door is opened by the dwarf and he is greeted by a sultry brunette in a strapless dress. I can only gather from this that in his field, it's the normal thing for researchers to live in the middle of nowhere with dwarf servants. (By the way, his mute female companion stayed in the desert while he ascended the rocks. The voiceover has not bothered to tell us who she is and why she came, but a little later we'll learn that she lives here, too.)


"Avon calling."

Dr. Masterson does begin to look a little bewildered as he tries to hand his hat to the dwarf, who stares at it blankly and refuses to take it. Too well-brought-up to show his disdain for such a poorly-trained servant, he looks around the room and sees several women, all dressed in long white dresses. They don't say anything to him, and he doesn't say anything to them. Not only that, he doesn't seem even slightly surprised to see the women in what seems to be a research lab.


Dreds like Bo Derek's younger sister.

Finally Dr. Aranya walks into this room of silence. It's Uncle Fester! Well, not quite, he won't be Uncle Fester for about 10 more years. But it really is Jackie Coogan, once the biggest child star in the world, now reduced to acting in this sorry patchwork quilt of a movie. Some sources say that he somehow incurred the wrath of Louis B. Mayer, who made sure he couldn't get a part in any decent movie. Other sources suggest that large quantities of alcohol had a lot to do with his failing career. Whatever the reason, Jackie Coogan is the only famous actor in the movie. It would not be correct to say he distinguishes himself, and as a matter of fact, the acting skills he displays are pretty much on par with the rest of the undistinguished cast.


Doctor Aranya (nice mole).

Instead of asking, "Just what the hell is going on here? Why is your laboratory in a pile of rocks, for godsake? And why are your lab assistants wearing evening gowns?", Dr. Masterson starts discussing Dr. Aranya's research. Dr. Aranya takes him into his lab, which has even more strange lights and mysterious glassware than the typical mad scientist's lab, so we know he must be doing some powerful research. By the way, how does he get electricity to operate all his equipment? There were no power lines anywhere in the desert, and it would probably be impossible to run them into the rocks, anyway. And what about water to wash Dr. Aranya's lab coat and the ladies' dresses? This might be the reason most scientists like to have their laboratories in inhabited areas, not miles from anything except rattlesnakes and coyotes.


The smartyheads chat.

In the lab, there is what seems to be the corpse of a young woman lying on a table, and for the first time Dr. Masterson seems a little puzzled. Dr. Aranya explains that he wanted to see what would happen if he transplanted human pituitary glands into animals. Unfortunately he had only moderate success with animals and none at all with birds. Being a dedicated scientist, however, he was undaunted by his failure, and one happy day it occurred to him to try transplanting a human pituitary gland into a tarantula. He doesn't bother to explain how he did this, probably assuming that everybody was familiar with such a simple everyday procedure. Turnabout is only fair play, though, so he transplanted the "control substance" from tarantulas into human bodies. Turns out that this was of great benefit to his subjects, all attractive young women, because it enables them to regenerate any body parts that become damaged (and also gives them peculiar hairdos and makes them want to wear skimpy dresses). Sadly it doesn't work so well on men but just turns them into dwarfs. Any endocrinologist who reads this, please feel free to weigh in with your comments, if you're not laughing too hard to type.


Is he even a qualified medical professional?

Dr. Aranya states that his goal is to produce a super female spider with the intelligence of a human. Like me, you're probably wondering why he'd want one, but in the fine old tradition of mad scientists, he believes his new creatures would be able to control the world under his direction, of course. Dr. Masterson seems surprisingly calm about this news, and really only displays emotion when a large insect-like leg appears above a screen, which is then pulled aside to reveal a giant spider. The sight finally makes him realize that something is just not right about Dr. Aranya and his research, that perhaps it may not be of benefit to mankind after all. He is unable to keep his opinion to himself, and while he's vowing to put a stop to such evil, the smoldering brunette who met him at the front door injects him with something. A quick succession of images denotes delirium, and then one of the images stops at a newspaper headline which states, "Doctor Saved From Desert Death." Now it's Nate's turn.


Raaahhh!

Thanks, Pam. Ok, we reopen in a dingy, dirty cantina south of the border, filled with locals and gringos, every one of which is smoking like a chimney. A doddering old man and hottie young woman enter stage right and have a seat at a table. The woman is actually the same chick from the opening scene, the one wandering in the desert (it took me a few minutes to realize this, much to my girl-watching discredit). She will be, of course, our female lead, and a pretty effective one at that. Her name is Doreen, which is one of those names that you rarely hear anymore outside of the Sunday lunch buffet line at Denny's, and she sure does love her curling iron.


Doreen (ok, ok, this is a promotional pic from the studio, but I couldn't get a decent screen capture of her and she's pretty enough for you not to notice).

They lament how they are stuck in this miserable Mexican village in the middle of nowhere as their light plane has broken down. Worse yet, this is supposed to be their wedding day, which is unsettling to my sense of right and wrong as she's around 25 and he's at least 137 and Dutch or Belgian or something equally foreign (*shudder*). They're not really a happy couple, separate from their current predicament, and begin to drown their sorrows in rotgut hootch. Trust me, honey, there's not enough tequila in the world to wash away the hurt once you wake up and realize that you just married Abraham Lincoln.


Doreen blows through a whole pack of Camels in this movie.

Doctor Masterson, from the last scene, is also here, having escaped from the mental hospital and is now enjoying some scotch in a folding camp cup. Where before he was a bright, articulate man of science, after his mind was blown by the mad scientist's crazy plans Masterson is now just dazed and confused, shambling along doing the Thorazine shuffle and mumbling to himself. He has managed to get dressed, however, and even found a slick fedora to wear on his day about town. Masterson takes an instant shine to Doreen and sits down with them, uninvited. He keeps saying suggestive things to her, complimenting her obvious beauty, though her fiance doesn't seem to care as he's a milquetoast (maybe he's French?).


Good lord, is that Patrick Macnee from The Avengers?

Meanwhile, a sultry buxom Latino girl is sitting over in a corner, burning a hole through Masterson with her eyes. We saw her earlier in Doctor Aranya's lab, she was one of his scantily-clad spider-woman mutants with fabulous taste in evening wear. It's never said, but we can assume she's here keeping tabs on Masterson, as he's still important to the mad doctor (too-late spoiler alert!). Masterson, for his part, once he sees her, senses evil afoot, even if he doesn't seem to recognize her.


Oh, my.

The girl gets up now and starts dancing a slow and sexy Mexican salsa to the delight of the sweaty, inebriated patrons, giving us a lot of swiveling hip and a Basic Instinct flash. Her dance seems to last forever, a clear sign of a director looking to pad out the running time in the absence of anything better to film. As sizzling as the dance (and the dancer) is, this is yet another case where bad editing and inept camerawork can suck the hotness out of any scene.


Everyone seems inordinately mesmerized, is this a spider thing?



Oh, maybe that's why...

A male nurse named George shows up now, he's from the sanatorium and he's here to get Masterson back. The genial way in which he talks to Masterson suggests that the old man likes to wander and is not seen as any threat at all. When pushed to give up his field trip, however, Masterson slowly pulls a .45 automatic out of his pocket and waves it around. This gets everyone's attention immediately, as crazy people with firearms in public places tend to do.


Bang.

Masterson seems particularly worried about the dancer chick, and, after out-of-context quoting an obscure psalm about sand and blood, he shoots her! Oddly, no one seems too upset about this, kinda like this sort of thing happens a lot in their town. Masterson, somewhat satisfied that the dancer is down, agrees that it's time to leave. He's taking Doreen with him, however, and since she's a package deal, they all walk out together. And with that, back to Pam for part four...


Aiy carumba!

I'm back! It seems the shooting death of a girl is not going completely unnoticed in this town after all. The cantina owner is bothered enough by it to phone the sheriff and report the crime, but as he's talking, he turns around to see the "dead" girl get to her feet, seemingly none the worse. There isn't even any blood on her dress! (Listen closely to the owner's conversation: he says "right where she fed..." instead of "fell," but whoever made this movie apparently didn't think it was worth reshooting for this.) The owner seems a little shaken when he sees her get up, but we'll have to wait to find out what the sheriff does, if anything, because the next scene picks up with Masterson and his kidnapees at the airstrip.


You can't keep her down.

The plane's pilot tells them the plane is still busted, which fact seems to elude Masterson as he grins crazily at the airplane and says he's always wanted to fly. The pilot seems unhappy at the thought of being in the sky with a grinning maniac aboard and says that he alone will decide who flies, but Masterson reveals his gun and the pilot evidently decides that discretion is the better part of valor. The pilot, by the way, is the guy we saw staggering through the desert with Doreen at the start of the movie and looks appropriately manly and stalwart. If Doreen ends up ditching her elderly fiancee in favor of the pilot, I for one applaud her taste. I'm skeptical she will, though, she has "gold-digger" written all over her.


The pilot.

Remember the cantina owner who called the sheriff? It seems he listened in on Doreen and Old Guy's conversation enough to tell the sheriff where they were likely to go, as we hear a siren and see a police car speeding toward the airstrip. Masterson waves his gun and herds Doreen, Old Guy, George, and some white-coated man who was hanging around the strip into the plane, which is able to take off without any trouble, despite what the pilot said two minutes ago. They're crammed into the cockpit like sardines in a can, but Masterson continues to enjoy himself. No one else seems to share his enjoyment, especially not his beloved Doreen, although they don't seem as stressed as you might think they'd be.


Masterson wants to fly like a bird.

Recall that the pilot said one of the engines was malfunctioning, although it sounds okay now, but it appears that something is wrong with the gyrocompass, too. Just by looking at it, the pilot can tell it's been tampered with and they've been flying 100 degrees off-course. Since they've only been airborne about a minute, one would assume that they can't have gone too far off-course, but the pilot looks worried. Just then the left engine starts smoking, but the pilot is a lot calmer about this than I would be if I were flying in the middle of nowhere in a twin-engine plane with one of the engines malfunctioning (it's very hard to fly a twin-engine plane with one engine out, and the safest thing to do would be to land as quickly as possible). Masterson appears to be in his own happy world and is not commenting, but the pilot makes no attempt to turn back to the airstrip (best choice) or pick a clear spot in the desert to land (last resort, since you can't tell from the air what the ground surface is like).


Cramped, can you imagine a cross-country flight in that thing?

The smoke from the engine gets heavier and blacker, and the pilot finally decides he has to land. The view from the window doesn't look promising, since all the land in sight is uneven and covered with sand, and there's no sign of human habitation. Masterson wants to keep on flying and orders the pilot not to land, but the pilot is adamant, and Masterson doesn't press the matter further. Just then the pilot spots a mesa ahead and is going to try to land on it. The glimpse we catch of the mesa shows it as a flat tableland rising from a sandy desert, with the top of the mesa covered with trees and brush with an open strip down the middle. In other words, nothing whatsoever like the pile of rocks Masterson climbed through before, and for that matter, the empty desert looks nothing like the hilly, rocky, sagebrush-covered desert we saw the mesa in before. The landing is a rough one, and one of the wings breaks. However, no one is hurt. Over to you, Nate.


Pretty nice model-work here, best special effect in the movie.

Thanks, Pam. Ok, so to recap we have a crash landed plane and six survivors. They are: the pilot (whose name is Grant and looks like Indiana Jones' aviator alter ego), Masterson the crazy dude, his nurse George, the couple Doreen and Old Guy, and Old Guy's uber-subservient Chinese manservant Wu.


The line up.

After determining that it's safe to smoke after a cursory glance at the gas tanks, Grant pulls out a folded map, doesn't unfold it, glances at it for all of a half second, and announces that they are exactly 120 miles south of the Mexican border and exactly 600 feet up on a tabletop mesa. Grant then shoots off their only flare, which zooms off with an amusing pop-whistle sound. Apparently, the plane doesn't have a radio, and no one has a Blackberry with a decent 3G plan.


Grant with George.

In the woods around them (which, by the way, are the wrong type of woods for a desert environment, being mostly oaks and maples) are a swarm of mutant spider women and creepy Gypsy-like dwarfs. This is Doctor Aranya's private mesa, of course, and by an amazing stroke of luck (or is it...) they have landed right in his territory. The watchers will soon become the hunters, and our isolated and frightened group of crash survivors will have to fight for their lives (hey, is this an Alien-rip-off or what?).


Hey, even mutants need hair care products.



Dwarf.

Let's talk about Wu the servant for a second. Even though he does have the best line in the entire movie ("The curtain of darkness veils the softest eyes.") he's still just a coolie in a tuxedo to the rest of them. Wu has to go alone into the darkness to get firewood, Wu has to tend said fire by himself, Wu is not included in any decision-making conversations, and, most insultingly, when Grant finds a bottle of brandy in the plane, he hands it to Wu to open for them. Of course, I'd feel more sympathy for Wu if we didn't just see him talking to one of the spider girls in the woods, almost like he knew her...


Wu.

Anyway, the nurse George decides to take a stroll into the dark woods (it's ok, he's really non-essential to the plot). Masterson is sure he's bringing back food, because that's what he did back in the sanatorium, but it looks more like George is just looking for a quite place to get away from the annoyingly squeaky Doreen and her geriatric boyfriend. Sadly, but predictably, George becomes snack food for the evil chicks/dwarfs.


George about to croak.

Back at the plane, they hear George's death screams. Masterson insists that they all go together to see what's going on, so Grant has everyone form a line and hold hands (which is just an excuse for him to hold Doreen's hand...). Poor Wu, being an expendable foreigner (though clearly more ethnic than the Old Guy, and thus even more foreign) is forced to bring up the rear. After some wandering, they find George's corpse face-down in the dirt. Cause of death would be the nasty bite marks on his neck, like what a giant spider would cause.


I hate movies with night scenes...

So they walk back through the spooky forest in the dark. The director valiantly tries to build some tension into this scene, but his single-camera set-up and weak candle lighting, coupled with the incessant flamenco guitar track, combine to make you more sleepy than terrified. The Old Guy comes up with a scratch on his arm. Or is that a mutant spider bite? Is he going to turn into a zombie mutant spider now? But ignore that, because Doreen has tripped and fallen into Grant's arms (jesus christ...), and is now gazing up into this eyes with unabashed desire.


She also says her "skirt is ruined", though it looks fine to me.

Sprinkled in amongst all these scenes on the top of the mesa are some insert shots of Doctor Arayna in his secret laboratory. We see him several times, just tinkering around with bubbling beakers and boiling glasswear, not really too concerned by what's going on above him. He's fully aware, of course, and apparently has "plans" for them. This really can't be old beef, so to speak, as the doctor is involved in the plot both before and after this scene, but it certainly looks like it. Both the film grain and the fps seem...off, in comparison to the other scenes. I'd love to know if the actor (poor Jackie Coogan) filmed both the beef and the curry for this movie (the internet is maddingly vague on this).


The good (bad) doctor in his lab.

Anyway, the five of them make it back to the plane, where they pass the bottle, stoke the fire, and talk about their options. They don't have many (especially since Grant already cooked off their only flare...) and it's getting too dark to see. Instead of sleeping in the plane where they could control the avenues of approach, they all just bunk down in the open, apparently having never seen a slasher movie. Doreen and Grant end up talking by the fire late into the night, having one of those intimate, personal conversations that no one except characters in a movie would ever have. Doreen is worried that Grant sees her as a gold digger (he does) and wants him to know that she doesn't really "love" the Old Guy (she's just "fond of him").


Fireside chat.

Grant says, and I quote, that he "Wants a girl who is sincere, real, someone who'd stick by me when the chips are down. One who wants me for who I am, not what I have." Sure, don't we all, man. But Doreen is a uptown girl with fancy tastes, and you're just a rumpled bush pilot without a penny to your name and a busted plane. Any romance she's going to give you is just temporary and your illusion will shatter the first minute some hunky, rich dude comes along to whisk her away. And true to the nature of the skank, Doreen forces a kiss on Grant, desperately using the only power she has (her womanly charms) to manipulate a man. But Grant breaks it off, bitter about the pointlessness of it all. Good for you, buddy!


Ick.

Oh, hey, by the way, Masterson is asleep there on the ground five feet away from you. You know, the crazynutjob with the gun? Asleep? As in, unable to resist you. Hey, maybe one of you should go over there and take the gun away from him, might come in handy, eh? No? Ok, just keep slobbering on each other then, whatever. Dumbasses. And with that thought, back to Pam to finish this disaster out...


Found a cool promotional pic of this movie, if only this actually happened...

Well, let's get this puppy finished. It's amazing how clean and tidy everybody looks after hiking through the woods and sleeping on the ground. Doreen wins the prize, because somehow she's managed to keep her light-colored suit spotless and her elaborate coiffure intact. Sadly, the sweet interaction between Doreen and Grant is broken when Doreen sees something in the trees. The others get up to see what's happened, and the Old Guy notices she's lost the hair comb he gave her. He's dismayed because he claims it's a valuable family heirloom, and he insists that Wu go out and look for it. Wu goes meekly, saying that "He who serves well also serves in danger," only asking Grant for the flashlight. Masterson generously presents him with the gun, and Wu heads off with the parting words "There is a day to be born and a day to die." I'm wondering if the Old Guy might not have given Wu a lobotomy somewhere along the line.


Wu sets off.

However, Wu is not the doormat he seems. He abandons the search to drop in on Dr. Aranya. Dr. Aranya is not at all surprised to see him, and Wu reports that he's brought Masterson. Brought Masterson? I suppose this means it was Wu who tampered with the gyrocompass and sabotaged the engine? How did this happen? Was Wu instructed by Dr. Aranya to get a job with the Old Guy, since Dr. Aranya somehow knew (how?) that the Old Guy and Doreen were heading in the Doctor's direction to get married, and they could stop and pick up Masterson? Or had he been working for the Old Guy for some time, and did he contact Dr. Aranya to find out if there was anything he could do for him since he was heading that way with his boss? In either case, it was sheer good luck that Masterson decided to kidnap the Old Guy and Doreen and commandeer the plane. Why couldn't Dr. Aranya just have some of his minions kidnap Masterson from the sanitarium and bring him to the lab? It can't be that inaccessible, since Masterson was driven there before by one of Aranya's spider-women. I'm sure this is another sign of the cut-and-paste nature of this movie. Wu gets a poor reward for his loyalty to Dr. Aranya, for the good doctor gestures at the spider women, who grab Wu and drag him off somewhere. Actually, I guess this might be a reward for Wu after all, since we don't see what they do to him.


Reporting to his boss.

Alas, no it wasn't. Grant, who didn't want to send Wu out in the first place, is searching through the woods with a flaming torch and stumbles over Wu's body. Wu not only held onto the flashlight and the gun, but at some point he found the hair comb, which looks like just a plain hair comb to me. Perhaps it was made of some rare and expensive material? Anyway, Grant storms back to the fire and throws the comb at the Old Guy. To give the Old Guy credit, he is distraught at the news of Wu's death. Doreen throws herself into Grant's arms, but the emotional moment is quickly ended when they hear something coming.


Spooky things in the dark...

The Old Guy panics and runs, unfortunately straight into a giant spider. The others are attacked and overcome by an assortment of beautiful women and stunted, misshapen dwarves. Too bad Dr. Aranya's potion works so differently on men and women, isn't it? Makes women beautiful (and silent) and men ugly? (By the way, how can it "make" a man into a dwarf? How does a grown man lose so much body mass?) I think we can deduce from this who the target audience was.


...like bigass spiders!

We are now back in the lab, where Dr. Aranya gives Masterson an injection which, he assures his crew, will make Masterson perfectly sane again. Grant and Doreen are in the background, finally looking somewhat bedraggled, although Doreen's hairdo is still holding up surprisingly well. From what Dr. Aranya says, he never intended to let Masterson leave the lab in his state of insanity, although this was never mentioned before. Now back in his right mind, Masterson refuses to help Aranya, and Aranya summons Tarantella, the girl from the cantina, who is back here looking as good as new. Doreen jumps to the conclusion that Tarantella means to torture Masterson, although I would think that it's possible she intended to use, ahem, "gentler" means of persuasion.


Hey, I was just kiddin' about that injection of Yanni, seriously.

Unexpectedly, considering what we've seen of Doreen so far, she attacks Tarantella to protect Masterson. Grant grabs Aranya, Doreen and Tarantella continue to wrestle, and Masterson hastily mixes some chemicals and threatens to blow up the lab. By this we can see what a truly great scientist Masterson must be, because he can seemingly recognize chemicals by sight alone, as none of the containers appears to be labeled in any way. Oddly, there are three spider women standing in the background who do nothing to help either Aranya or Tarantella. Masterson tells Grant and Doreen to run, then he hurls the chemicals and sets the entire lab on fire. There's a brief cut of a giant spider poised over a supine Aranya, then we're finally back to Grant in the hospital.


Girl fight! Woo!

The Americans, of course, still don't believe a word Grant says, but wise old Pepe nods knowingly. I'm not surprised that Pepe believes that something was going on up on the mesa, because with all those dwarfs and beautiful mute women running around, the locals had to have noticed. There must have been periodic trips into town for supplies, and people must have noticed some coming and going toward the mesa. Dr. Aranya got his research published some way, because Dr. Masterson was familiar with it. The narrator suggests that the Americans consider the tale of spider women on the mesa to be mere native superstition, but surely there's enough physical evidence to convince the most skeptical gringo that something unsavory really was going on there. And just how did Wu get involved, anyway?


"Is it over yet? When do I get paid?"

After watching this movie, I can assure everybody that it more than deserves a place on the list of the worst movies ever made. Jackie Coogan must have been absolutely desperate to accept a part. This would still have been a bad movie even if some care had been taken to maintain continuity between the old and the new parts, so I suppose I can't blame the filmmakers for not bothering. Obviously the goal was to make a movie as cheaply as possible, and I'm sure that was accomplished.

The end.

Written in April 2010 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.



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