Web of the Spider
Review by C. Demetrius Morgan
This review has been viewed
The basic story centers on an American journalist (Anthony Franciosa) who, after coming all the way to Europe to interview Edgar Allen Poe (Klaus Kinski) accepts a challenge to spend the night in a haunted castle. While the opening act does not let on that this movie is going to be your typical banal haunted house flick once Kinksi departs and the action shifts to Franciosa itís all pretty much down hill from there.
Pan and Scan full screen version
Listed Video Running Time: 84 minutes
Theatrical Running Time: 102 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated.
Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Michèle Mercier, Klaus Kinski, Peter Carsten, Silvano Tranquilli, Karin Field, Raf Baldassarre, Irina Maleeva, Enrico Osterman, Marco Bonetti, Vittorio Fanfoni, Carla Mancini.
Director: Antonio Margheriti.
AKA: And Comes the Dawn... But Colored Red/ Dracula im Schloß des Schreckens / Dracula in the Castle of Blood/ E venne l'alba... ma tinto di rosse/ Edgar Poe chez les morts vivants/ Les Fantômes de Hurlevent/ In the Grip of the Spider/ Prisonnier de l'araignée
Before we go any further let me explain why this review exists. First, to inform the consumer who might be wondering about those absurdly cheaply priced budget DVDs. Second, because the movie is not all that bad. Third, its nearing Halloween and this may appear on cable or satellite in a fuller more watchable version. (I think the movie is worth watching, just not this particular DVD version of it.) Fourth, and more simply, misery loves company. Come on everyone letís sing that purple dinosaur song! What? No one? Ok, fine, on with the review!
The video is very low quality. Could the source have been a TV edit? Possibly. The tell tale signs of a bad dub are all there. First, the fuzzy white blur at the bottom of the screen. Second, a barely visible vertical ghost bar that moves up screen every now and then. Itís the sort of video artifact generated when recording from one VCR to another over poorly connected or cheap cables. Probably both. Third, when pausing a scene the still is fuzzy and grainy. VERY fuzzy and grainy! Could it be this was recorded off of broadcast television? If so this might have been put through a video filter in an effort to clean up the image and fix color bleed. They used to sell units that let you do that sort of thing in Circuit City, back in the day, so anything is possible.
Overall Iíd rate the video quality, and this is being generous, as a C- with the sound mediocre mono. Such dreadful video wasnít acceptable even on EP speed VHS!
Do I have to? Where to begin. . Uhm. . Hmm. . Letís see. . There was. . No, err, ah, well you see itís like this: The DVD was a dollar. The movie is a hoot and a holler, for all of five minutes but not much else. It could be the edit, it could be the bad picture quality, or it could just be like the old adage says: You get what you pay for.
The Setting: A pub and a castle somewhere in Europe. Or a well dressed stage.
The Story: See American journalist sneak up on a drunken Poe telling tall tales in a pub. See drunken Poe match wits with the sober journalist. Witness as Poe, still drunk, maneuvers Mr. Arrogant American (AKA: the journalist) into accepting a challenge to spend the night in a spooky castle. Behold as Poe deposits said journalist at the gates to the allegedly haunted manor and departs. Woe, Mr. Journalist, woe!
The Characters: The story is really only about one character, the American journalist, as the rest of the characters he meets after the Pub scene may or may not exist. Maybe. Donít make me watch it again. Please donít make me watch it again! *wink*
The Web: Ah what a tangled web of self-deceit we weave when first we allow ourselves to give in to impulse buys. The movie premise is not bad. However I canít really say much about it without giving the entire movie away, which is bad. Itís that kind of low budget, thin on the plot, not a lot of bells and whistles movie.
Moral: Dollar store DVDs can be fun as long as you donít expect much.
Suggested Game Uses
Poeís part is the sort of over the top mondo fun NPC ranting that I used to love to deliver to wide eyed players. That, if nothing else, bears watching as an object lesson for GMs on how to play over the top NPCs. Also, if you happen to have a small group with fewer than three players, the basic premise of the movie in how it centers on one central character may be a good aide to how to develop stories around small core groups of PCs. Sadly, beyond that, Iíd say this DVD is probably best used as a coaster. Sorry. The piss poor picture quality of this abysmal release just rubbed me wrong.
There is only one real consideration here. Was it worth the price? For a buck you canít go wrong, right? Well, maybe. This is VHS quality video of the worst sort common to dubs and bargain bin EP releases. In other words if you have a thousand dollar plus video setup this is probably not for you. Then again it was a buck! One dollar! For a buck itís not bad. You can watch the movie with your friends then use the disc as a coaster. Whoop! Granted you may decide to walk out of the store with chips instead. Chips or a DVD? Hmm. Tough choice.
Rating: 3 Ĺ out of 10 worm infested golden apples. (Based on picture quality.)
Perspective: It was a buck. The movie doesnít entirely suck. Though the quality of the image is bad. For a buck how can you be sad?
Negatives: Horrid transfer obviously sourced from a multi generational dub either several times removed from the original prerecord or, as is more likely the case, a dub recorded off of television or cable. Absolutely no information about the disc or ďcompanyĒ is available online nor is any contact information listed on the packaging, which should tell you something.
Positives: For a buck this movie wasnĎt bad. However, if I had paid more for this, even as part of a multi movie pack, I would have been less than pleased. On the bright side thereĎs quite a few titles available in the ďTreasure Box CollectionĒ line. Some sample titles are: Lady Frankenstein, Werewolf vs. Vampire Women, White Zombie, Little Shop of Horrors, The 39 Steps, Sisters of Death, Good Against Evil, Night of the Living Dead, and The Terror. Pretty much staple bargain bin fair. From the running times most look to be TV edits. Not much of a positive but what do you expect for one green back?
Availability: The movie itself is currently available as a bargain bin title from budget distributors such as Brentwood, whose listed information on all package versions claims their release to be the 102 minute version, and Diamond Entertainment, who sells the movie as a double feature DVD with Circus of Fear. The line of ďTreasure BoxĒ budget DVDs appear to be found only in dollar stores and Walgreenís, leastwise thatís the only two places Iíve spotted them so far.
Coming soon: Fangs of the Living Dead!
Copyright © 2004 C. Demetrius Morgan