Web of the Spider (1971)

Nella stretta morsa del ragno
Article 2818 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-24-2009
Posting Date: 5-1-2009
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Featuring Anthony Franciosa, Michele Mercier, Klaus Kinski
Country: France / Italy / West Germany

An American reporter takes a bet that he can spend the night in a haunted castle without dying.

If I had to choose what I considered Antonio Margheriti’s best movie, I would unhesitatingly choose CASTLE OF BLOOD; though made of familiar elements, there’s something innovative and genuinely spooky in the way he combines them for that film, and the ending is indelible. Margheriti must have sensed there was something special about the movie, too; seven years later he remade it, and this is the result. In some ways, I feel I should have to go easy on this one, because my copy of the movie is quite bad; the colors seem badly faded, and the use of pan-and-scan is truly awful. It’s one of those pan-and-scan jobs where the picture will jerk from one end of the frame to another in a distracting way, a technique that always reminds you that you’re watching a movie that should be seen in widescreen. However, there are other aspects that I don’t care for that don’t seem to be the result of a bad copy of the movie. I was not impressed with either Anthony Franciosa’s performance (if often feels forced and unconvincing) or Klaus Kinski’s performance as Edgar Allan Poe; though Poe did indeed have a drinking problem, seeing him recite the story of “Berenice” as a slovenly drunk feels more like you’re watching an actor showing off than a carefully considered artistic decision. I also think the the movie overuses closeups; in a movie about a haunted castle, you want to see the actors and actresses amidst the surroundings rather than having constant close-ups of their faces. Ultimately, there’s the simple fact that the remake was unnecessary; the most memorable scenes here were better done in the original, and it all has the air of a futile attempt to relive a past glory.

I guess you know which version I’m going to watch the next time I want to see this story.

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