The Spider (1991)

An artist needs a model to paint the Virgin Mary — and as you do — asks a local pastor to recommend him a model. The holy man decides on Vita, who the artist soon has obsessed and haunted, have dreams and waking nightmares of spiders, even when she’s sent away.

I read a review that argues that Vita suffers from Stendhal Syndrome — no, not the Argento movie — the very real affliction that causes people to become lost in works of creativity. During one of these visionary moments, the artist attempts to assault her and she runs home, passing out and having a vivid dream of giving herself to a spider and then wakes up covered in bites.

Shot in Latvian and in the Russian language, this is a movie that feels like it escaped from the formerly restrictive and hidden part of the world.

There’s also a drug in film form scene in which Vita wanders through Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgment and it’s astounding to see every piece of that painting become real and alive.

This film fits right in with the world of women discovering their first sexuality through the supernatural — Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Lemora: A Child’s Story of the SupernaturalLaurin and Alice or the Last Escape are other examples — and all of those movies have their own unique take, as does this. In any hands other than director Vasili Mass, this may have been straight-up exploitation. Instead, it emerges as a horrific thing of beauty.

You can buy this from Mondo Macabro.

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