If crazed scientists, weird, sexy women and giant spider puppets excite your juices, "Mesa of Lost Women" has the bite! The infamous Dr. Arana (Jackie Coogan) is conducting bizarre experiments in the forbidden Mexican dese... more »rt of Zarpa Mesa. It is rumored that he has created a race of rabid super-women by injecting them with a "spider venom" derivative so powerful and perverted that it transforms them into deadly sexual predators!« less
Thomas E. O'Sullivan | Knoxville, Maryland United States | 01/19/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A difficult and preachy film that falls into that slender catagory of 1950's sci-fi/horror set outside the United States and in Mexico - South of the Border chillers (KRONOS is another) - where the labor was cheap, the deserts always dry and the talent always in a sweat. The story behind MESA is simple enough - a mad doctor has crossed the power of a spider with the sexual wiles of the female form - creating a labor force of immortal, super strong and mute women who do his every bidding, biting and killing for... reasons unknown. Like all mad scientists he simply does what he does because he can... no reason needed. While MESA comes up short in many ways (is it a cautionary tale? Is it an environmental feature?), it does have it's moments - the best being found in Harmon Stevens performance as Dr. Leland Masterson - a man turned mad by the experiments of Dr. Arana (our evil villian) - whose performance is a near exact copy of Lon Chaney Jr. as "Lenny" in OF MICE AND MEN (in fact, Leland has escaped from a mental hospital in this film and is being hunted down by a man named "George") - very uncanny. This film also features THE SPIDER - perhaps one of the most often used monster props in fast and cheap sci-fi movies in the 1950's (you can also see it in MISSLE TO THE MOON), plus there is a cameo of Dolores Fuller (GLEN OR GLENDA) - the one time love and leading lady of Ed Wood. While this kind of movie is not for everyone - collectors will want this film - it crosses so many lines (there are moments in this film which have a Todd Browning FREAKS feel to it which is too exact to be anything but direct theft), it has one good performance, one famous name (Coogan) - and one awful leading lady, Mary Hill - whose line delivery is so emotionless that you can see the punctuation at the end of every sentence - awful - but fun. As for the casual viewer - I do recommend MESA OF LOST WOMEN as it is a true conversation piece, and despite how bad it is - you will watch it straight through, not understand one moment of it - and then find yourself wanting to watch it again just to see if it was really that bad."
Mesa Of Uncle Fester
Bindy Sue FrÝnkŁnschtein | under the rubble | 05/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mesa Of Lost Women is one of my favorite hunks of cheese! Jackie Coogan (yep, uncle Fester) is a mad scientist, working with petuitary gland transplants. He's successfully transplanted tarantula glands into human women (it doesn't work on men, only turns them into evil dwarves), turning them into mute amazons with extremely tacky wigs. Another scientist visits Dr. Fester and sees the horrible experiments. He refuses to help, so the head spider-woman "Taran-Tella" (Tandra Quinn) injects him with a serum that seems to make him bonkers. The good doctor ends up in the nuthouse, only to escape out a window. Anyway, he seeks revenge on Taran-Tella and shoots her (after she is allowed to dance in a saloon, causing hearts to race). The vengeful, nutty doctor then forces a pilot (Allan Nixon) to take him back to the mesa. Lots of spider-women and dwarves roam around aimlessly. A giant, stuffed tarantula flops onto a hapless victim or two, and fun is had by all. The ending is no surprise, but I'll not spoil it here. The soundtrack is hideous!! A flamenco guitar twangs along, accompanied by piano work best described as being played by a hammer-handed baboon on acid! Highly recommended..."
Oh, yeah - Film's a collaborative art...
Freeman Williams | Houston, TX USA | 07/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of astounding cinema will enjoy this movie, since it plays like a lost Ed Wood film. Ron Ormond took an unfinished movie started by Herbert Tevos, and tried to finish it with minimal effort - the story is presented as a flashback via a minor character who couldn't possibly know the story, continuity errors and overripe dialogue abound. Jackie Coogan (!) plays a mad scientist who is creating giant spider puppets and then turning them either into knock-out women or leering dwarves. An incredibly odd movie."
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 01/30/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There is one thing about this movie that stands out in my mind. The music is awful; really awful. The music is so awful that even if the movie content had been five stars, the music would have knocked it back to two stars. The combination of repetitive, annoying guitar and a spinet or piano that appear to be out of tune, poorly played, or just bad music, is terrible on the ears. By the time the movie reaches its final seconds you are thankful for the end.
The whole movie is a flashback of a guy brought out of the desert who wants to go burn something. This fellow's ravings are so intense that you think this movie has promise. Now we go to a flashback.
We meet Dr. Leland Masterson (Harmon Stevens) who willingly goes to Zarpa Mesa to see Dr. Aranya's efforts. Dr. Aranya is played by Jackie Coogan, a long-time veteran of television and movies who many may remember best as the original Uncle Fester on "The Addam's Family." Dr. Masterson sees how horrible Dr. Aranya's experiments are, and he refuses to help, and then goes bonkers, turning into some sort of weird ultra-goodie for much of the rest of the movie. Dr. Masterson shoots a woman who we know is one of the super spider women, and then climbs on board a plane to head somewhere. The engine conks and the passengers land by happy coincidence (can you see this one coming?) on Zarpa Mesa.
Evening falls and passengers are picked off one-by-one with weird puncture marks. Finally, the few remaining passengers are taken to Dr. Aranya's laboratory, where a big fight ensues, there are flames and an explosion and we are returned to the present. Wow. Such excitement. Such danger. What an awesome movie.
This movie is so bad that it is bad. There is minimal charm to the movie. I like Jackie Coogan, but his role could have been played by anyone. The music was awful. The best part of the whole movie was the plane crash, which I thought was reasonably realistic. With movies like these I try to either be at least a little frightened, or amused. I was neither with this movie. I wish there was some way to put this movie into perspective so that you have an idea of whether you should buy it. Since I cannot, I will say that if you like a movie that is about tarantula women, with minimal appearances of any real tarantulas, and you can handle the awful music, then by golly, this could be just the movie for you. However, I will note that this movie is worse than anything comparable by Ed Wood, so you can go from there. "
Average DVD of legendary Z-chiller
Surfink | Racine, WI | 09/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I would have to include Mesa of Lost Women in that unique subgenre of "is it spellbindingly awful or just awful?" (members of which include The Creeping Terror, Beast of Yucca Flats, They Saved Hitler's Brain, Teenage Devil Dolls, Battlefield Earth, etc.). Bad movie fans may find this a scream, or merely dull depending on their taste and mind-set at the time of viewing (and how many Carl Dreyer films they've made it through). No rants please, I love Carl Dreyer movies. It is fairly slow-moving, even for a poverty-stricken 50s thriller, and that guitar-and-piano score has the potential to put the most stable person in the rubber room. That said, the plot, dialogue, characterizations, etc. are so loony that there is much to marvel at for those tough enough to stick it out: Jackie (Uncle Fester) Coogan as a demented scientist, Spider-Babe Tandra Quinn's bizarre dance stylings, mutant midgets, florid narration, etc. And this is mandatory viewing for fans of that giant spider prop (you know the one).
The DVD itself is not terrific, but serviceable. The brightness, contrast, and tonal values are quite adequate, although the sharpness is a bit soft, and the print suffers from relatively low-level but fairly constant speckling, dirt spots, and sporadic vertical and horizontal scratches. Some stretches of the film are pretty clean, some aren't, although overall it is still an improvement over the VHS copy I taped off PBS [!!] several years back. Interestingly, the TV print shows vertical scratching at the same points in the film and in the same locations in the frame as the DVD; perhaps these flaws derive from the master elements. In other details, the prints were not identical. There appear to be no missing shots/scenes other than the 15-second "prologue" tacked on to the TV print before the opening titles (was this part of the original theatrical release?). The DVD actually runs just slightly longer than my tape. Extras include the Mesa trailer (also a little dirty), chapter stops, and five more trailers advertising other Image discs. Not as impressive as other Image releases (e.g., Missile to the Moon), but given the history of this movie, it's possible that no better print of the film was available. Once again, Z-movie completists will probably be pleased with the disc, if not overly excited; anyone not into this stuff already, run for your life!"