( 1988 / Italy )
Review by Paul Cooke
Director: Gianfranco Giagni
Starring: Roland Wybenga , Paola Rinaldi , Margareta von Krauss , Claudia Muzi , William Berger & Stéphane Audran
Source : Columbia Video / Japanese NTSC VHS / Wide Screen / Approx 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio / English Language / Small Japanese Subtitles
- A Latter Day Horror Giallo To Thrill & Chill -
For a late entry in the Euro Cult boom of the Eighties ‘Spider Labyrinth’ stands tall upon its eight legged premise , and spins a horror yarn that catches all unprepared amidst its well woven web. A terrifically taught tale of a modern day coven of evil that is secretly growing in legion throughout regions of Europe.
When professor Alan Whitmore ( Roland Wybenga ) is sent by his American company to Budapest , to investigate a fellow professor who has uncovered an ages old cult believed to be just a fabled lore , his world soon spirals out of control as the veil of reality falls apart.
A very welcome journey undertaken by all the players on show and capably paced by Director Gianfranco Giagni. A skilfully worked bled of styles reminiscent of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘Suspiria’. The colourful hue of set pieces stylishly lit up with a palette purloined , with reverence , from Italian Director extraordinaire Mario Bava. A style of film making that is replete with substance and complete with a genuine eeriness that is a seat hugging experience to embrace. Most definitely a title that has not attracted the due exposure befitting it.
The spider theme is twofold as Alan Whitmore at a young age is locked in a cupboard with a big beastie of an arachnid , the experience of which stays with him , and the thematic lair of underground caverns that sets the scene for the titular labyrinth. With a demonic killer on the prowl as well , each death leaves a signature mesh of spider web upon the victim. A cat like pitch ushers in the imminent arrival of the vicious dealer of death just as a black ball arrives on the scene like a calling card of doom. A wonderful addition to the weird and bizarrely unrelenting Giallo school of originality , like the unseen black gloved killers from days gone before.
The deaths are well executed and with bloody effect as the Herculean horror hybrid wields a razor sharp ornate blade with great agility , along with a set of talon like teeth that clearly have missed many a dental check up.
Once professor Whitmore takes possession of a scribed artefact by his fellow professor events rapidly escalate out of control. Whitmore is entangled into a realm that he cannot escape from and even the plaintiff cries of a seemingly madman fail to make him realise what he has gotten himself drawn into , until it is far too late !.
The corridors of an ancient cult are as myriad as the passages of madness , and Alan Whitmore is traversing both towards a doorway to evil.
With special effects legend Sergio Stivaletti on board the creature make up and manifestations are well done on a reasonably tight budget. Some of the spider effects are obviously super imposed but no better or worse than most efforts of the time. A ghoulish childlike transformation into spider creature at closure is very akin to the spider head , jaw to the floor moment , witnessed in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. One of several highlights in this stylish Italian horror / thriller that displaces itself from the over indulgent , yet still serves up more than a pleasing plenitude of stay the course creepiness. An over looked gem that will reward even the most seasoned of Euro cult viewing enthusiasts.
Film : 4/5 Spider Strikes
Picture : 4/5 Spider Strikes
Sound : 4/5 Spider Strikes
Overall : 4/5 Spider Strikes
Discuss this in our forums.
© 2007 cinema-nocturna.com