Professor Alan Whitmore travels to Budapest to track down a colleague who has seemingly vanished. There, this professor of languages, discovers that not only has his friend met an untimely end, but he had stumbled upon a conspiracy involving a cult of spider worshipers. He quickly finds out that they value their secrecy very highly and the cost of uncovering them is far from pleasant. Whitmore desperately searches for clues but someone or something is silencing anyone who tries to help him.
Spider Labyrinth merges the Italian giallo murder mystery film to the foreboding doom and mind shattering horror of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. By 1988 the Italian genre boom of the 70s and 80s was beginning to wane, so it is not surprising that someone would try to offer up a variation on some well used formulas. Spider Labyrinth is largely successful merely on its novel approach, thankfully it also possesses quality beyond that.
|Spitters are quitters.|
The late tonal switch from atmospheric mystery to garish creature feature could have been easily bungled but, thanks to director Giagni’s keeping the film low key and strange, the effect feels more like things are bubbling over into a nightmare. I think this is a case where the unreality of the prosthetics, puppets, and stop motion only serve to heighten the unreality of what is happening on the screen.
|SFX Guy: "So What do you want this monster to look like? |
Director: "Make it look a C.H.U.D. had a baby with a Podling"
It's a difficult film to discuss without talking about the finale since that is so key to everything that comes before it. Even the short coda at the end drives home some really visceral horror that sends the story off with a delightfully evil flourish. Spider Labyrinth is often overlooked on many Lovecraft film list thanks to being unusually difficult to find, but it belongs on that list as one of the better examples of that sub-genre.