Now and again somebody thinks fondly of me and brings this lil’ Catgirl the present of a movie…. sometimes they’re surprisingly good, sometimes amazingly baaaaad… but always welcomed… Recently, my sweet Carolyn bought me this one…. fresh from the “sale bin” at our local Video rental store…. brand spanking new and never even watched!! (However, after watching it, I’ve now come to understand why…. Hehehehe!!) It’s not every special person that would do that… especially knowing she’d have to also cuddle up on the couch and watch it too….. It’s little gestures like this that tell me how much she truly loves silly lil’ me…. and judging by this “craptastic” DVD, she must just love me oodles and oodles!!
Our synopsis goes sorta like this…. “A mad scientist named Dr Arana (Jackie Coogan) is creating giant spiders and dwarves in his lab on Zarpa Mesa in Mexico. He wants to create a master race of superwomen by injecting his female subjects with spider venom.”
Now this certainly sounds like a reasonable and well thought out plan for world domination…. and to think some might call Dr. Arana mad…… So, how’s it all gonna work?
Badly, my first guess would be, but to find out for certain, we’ll all just have to “Read On” to find out!!
If you’ve ever read the HG Wells classic, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, you’ve got the basic idea here….. weird science has always been fascinated with the somewhat goofy idea of using surgery and secret formulas to transform animals into people…. or nearly transform them, you see…. it never quite works out so well in actual application. It does however make for some nifty scifi horror exploitation most of the time and “Mesa of Lost Women” is no exception… (Why, oh why, do they NEVER try to make beautiful women out of fluffy bunnies or lil’ kittens instead of spiders, snakes, or other ridiculously deadly choices….)
Mad Science is such a demanding profession after all….
We get this one started as we see an oil company employee driving his jeep somewhere in the fictitious “Muerto Desert” of Mexico, who rescues the intrepid freelance pilot, Grant Phillips (played by Robert Knapp) and Doreen (played by Mary Hill) whom he comes across wandering through the wasteland suffering from the ravages of exposure and dehydration. Barely alive, Grant babbles on incoherently with something about “needing to destroy “Them” before they scatter”. Uh-oh…. You just know that can’t be good…..
Brought to the “Amer-Exico Field Hospital” they soon recover thanks to the efforts of Dr. Tucker, the oil company doctor in charge of the clinic. Once he’s conscious, Grant starts in again with his crazy story about “super-monsters…or bugs” as all the oil company guys listen in disbelief. Grant begs then to load up a truck with oil and hurry to burn out the “bugs” before they scatter forever. Nobody believes him….. except Pepe, the Mexican local who works for the company…. and so begins a weird flashback…..
The movie is full of these sorts of jarring, abrupt shifts in story. Ultimately it serves to give one the impression this film was edited by a cretin armed with a chainsaw….. and he’s probably also they guy who chose the soundtrack….. OMG!! The music!! The soundtrack of “Mesa” is dominated… yeah, that’s definitely the word for it… by a terrible Flamenco guitar that soon has you absolutely hating the very sound of guitars, repeated over and over throughout the entire film. This music is simply horrible…. and it’s probably why Ed Wood Jr. stole it to use in the soundtrack of his own film, 1954’s “Jailbait”…..
Respected eminent scientist, Doctor Leland Masterson, the world’s leading specialist in research (Just exactly what SORT of research we are never told… I guess he’s famous enough we’re all just supposed to know) visits Dr. Arana at his forlorn desert laboratory on Zarpa Mesa in the heart of the infamous “Muerto Desert” to learn the details of the Arana’s latest experiments.Once he discovers Arana has been breeding giant tarantulas and that he’s been using a combination of special serums and surgery to transplant their glands into humans, he sorta freaks out. Apparently he’s crossed that ever so fine line into the whole “things man was not meant to know” territory…. even if this research has resulted in creation of mysterious hottie Tarantella (played in sultry silence by B-movie starlet Tandra Quinn). Passing up on the chance to join Arana and learn how to make all of his very own spider girls, he is seized and given an injection that destroys his mind and is allowed to escape. Eventually found wandering, he gets confined to an asylum for the hopelessly nutty from which he later escapes and abducts several people he meets at a seedy cantina (The best sequence of which is a seriously weird sexy dance number by Tarantella…..). He forces his hostages aboard an airplane that’s got some serious engine issues to make his getaway. When the plane catches on fire, the our pilot Grant has to make an emergency landing in a clearing atop a remote desert mesa…. yep…. on THAT very mesa. Hey now, what are the odds of that happening?
Much of the film now shifts to our heroes getting chased around the jungle…. yes, jungle…. waaaay up on top of a Mesa stuck in the middle of supposedly the most arid region in all Mexico. But… we’ll let that slide…. After getting captured by Arana’s combined dwarf and spider girl minions, we end up at the lab where Dr. Matheson finally comes to his senses, only to refuse Arana yet again when offered a chance to join him in his plot. There’s the prerequisite destruction of everything by explosion…. (Ever notice how all evil labs seem to have so many things in them that go boom? Neko certainly has….) But of course our hero Grant and heroine Doreen somehow make their escape in the nick of time…. and our flashback ends…..
The oil guys are certainly NOT gonna believe this goofy story. Neither are they going to send a bunch of trucks out into the desert to burn out “giant mutant spiders”, so instead we get a final image of one of Arana’s spider girls… still very much alive, and setting things up nicely for “Mesa of Lost Women 2 – Spider Girls Gone Wild!!”
Wow….. I didn’t think a movie this bad could even be made. But…. here it is. Not surprisingly…. this one has slid into the public domain, thus allowing it to reach me by way of budget DVD release, one of many, for this particular title. The print used had me thinking the bad editing was the result, perhaps, of years of neglect and abuse…. but nope… this one was a “reel” turkey to start with, and it’s taken the ravages of years to give it a faint and curious sort of humor. If you can manage to stand that damn guitar and sit through it’s mercifully short 70 minute running time, it’s definitely worth a look….
For certain, you’ll never call another movie “crappy” after seeing this one….. so maybe that’s “Mesa of Lost Women”‘s claim to fame after all. Neko gives this one an amazing 0 “Meows” out of 5…. an absolute first here at the ol’ Litterbox…. but I’ll allow it several purrs of happy contentment for at least giving me a chance to watch it all curled up cozy with my sweetie and Goober for a quiet evening at home. (Psssst!!…. and the giant Spider puppets were sorta neat…..)
Could there possibly even be a Trailer for a film as absolutely “craptastic” as this one? Yes… yes there is, and here it goes!