Saturday, February 16, 2013

MESA OF LOST WOMEN (1953) movie review

Mesa of Lost Women
d. Ormond, Ron / Tevos, Herbert

“Have you ever been kissed by a girl like this?” Lovely exotic spider women, mad and madder scientists, a two-timing gold digging female and a huge puffy stuffed spider puppet add up to a hallucinogenic experience that occasionally stumbles into artless grace. Jackie Coogan (yes, Uncle Fester from TV’s The Addams Family) is carrying on inscrutable experiments in the jungles of the Muerto Desert (?), turning women into lethal killing machines or lethal killing machines into women, one of the two.

After the avant-garde techniques drive unwilling colleague Harmon Stevens mad, he escapes from the loony bin and hijacks a newlywed couple’s plane and pilot for no real good reason other than he’s mad. Renowned character actor Lyle Talbot offers up the juicy arch voiceover narrative, but it’s all too clear he’s the only one in on the joke. As the nefarious Tarantella, Tandra Quinn turns in her best Santanico Pandemonium impression in the local cantina.

DVD Delirium’s Nathaniel Thompson describes it as “one of those films able to transcend the limits of time, stretching out indefinitely until you’re convinced there’s no way it will ever end,” and it’s too apt a description to avoid repeating here. While the directors Ron Ormond and Herbert Tevos bear much of the credit, it’s Hoyt S. Curtin’s insanely persistent Mexican guitar/piano score that really seals the deal. Look sharp for diminutive Freaks star Angelo Rossitto as Coogan’s lab assistant.

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