Il Nido del Ragno (1988)

The title of this movie may translate as The Spider’s Nest, but it was released here as The Spider Labyrinth, which is a really awesome name for a movie. Good thing that this blast of late 80s Italian horror lives up to it.

Professor Alan Whitmore (Roland Wybenga, Sinbad of the Seven Seas) is a professor of languages whose life’s goal is to translate the sacred texts of a pre-Christian religion. This brings him to Budapest, where Professor Roth gives him a black book and plenty of paranoid ramblings, telling him about a cult called The Weavers that worship living beings from before humanity was even an idea.

This film has its roots in not just giallo — Whitmore is the stranger in a strange land who is confronted by a dead body and plenty of mystery about exactly why — but also the works of Lovecraft, informing us that there are religions that exist before the ones that we know and accept. Also, a shade of yellow forms over this story as our hero has a phobia about spiders, as he was locked in the closet with one as a small child and has carried that fear with him into his adult life.

Oh yeah — there’s also a fanged woman who can climb the walls like a spider out there killing anyone who helps our hero, even transforming the murder of one of the maids into an Argento-style art murder. It helps that Sergio Stivaletti, who did the effects for so many of the giallo maestro’s films, is on hand here. And this movie works admirably without CGI, as the ending gets absolutely into the stratosphere of wildness with an infant that becomes a spider.

This isn’t just a giallo cover movie. It has a genuine story to tell and some beautiful scenes along the way, as a real air of death just under the surface of reality. Sadly, its director Gianfranco Giagni has mostly worked in television, such as the show Valentina (a remake of Baba Yaga), or made documentaries such as Rosabella: la storia italiana di Orson Welles and La scandalose.

I really wish an American label would release this, because I was quite frankly so overjoyed to discover that someone was making the kind of Italian horror that I love so much as late as 1988.

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