• Web Of The Spider



    Released by: Garagehouse Pictures
    Released on: October 31st, 2017.
    Director: Antonio Margheriti
    Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Klaus Kinski, Michele Mercier, Peter Carsten, Silvano Tranquilli, Karin Field, Irina Maleeva
    Year: 1971
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    The Movie:

    Antonio Margheriti’s Web Of The Spider revolves around a man named Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa), a not so famous journalist who, after meeting up with a drunken Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski), makes a wager with his friend, Lord Thomas Blackwood (Enrico Osterman), that he cannot spend one night in his family's haunted castle on All Souls Eve.

    Foster, no coward accepts the wager. Soon enough, it's off to Castle Blackwood for him, where over the course of the night he encounters the ghostly inhabitants of the old building. One of these inhabitants in particular makes quite an impression on him and eventually falls head over heels in love with Elisabeth (Michele Mercier), the lovely and unfortunately, dead sister of Thomas. In fact, he even has a carnal encounter with the foxy ghost! Soon enough, Foster learns that the spirits haunting the castle seem to be reliving what happened to them just before they died – and not only that, they require human blood to survive!

    Essentially a color remake of Margheriti’s own Castle Of Blood, Web Of The Spider isn’t as good as the original version but it’s still worth seeing for anyone with an interesting in classic Italian gothic horror. Featuring a solid score from Riz Ortolani and some impressive cinematography, the film is a good-looking effort. Having said that, the picture loses something in color. While the sets and locations used for the production all work, the shadowy atmospherics of the black and white original are lost and that is to the detriment of the storytelling. We do, however, get a bit of nudity in this version and that counts for something.

    Performances are decent. While no one here makes an impression quite as strong as Barbara Steele did in Castle Of Blood, Kinski is pretty great as Poe. How much of his performance was scripted compared to how much he might have improvised is probably questionable, but Kinski being Kinski throws himself into the role, ranting and raving in the opening scene where Poe is trying to prove the presence of the ghost. His wide eyed, manic acting style isn’t subtle, but it is fun to watch. Enrico Osterman is fine in his supporting role and Michele Mercier quite fetching as the undead love interest in the film (she bears a slight resemblance to the aforementioned Ms. Steele). Karin Field as Julia, the mansion’s other female inhabitant, is also quite good. Unfortunately, Anthony Franciosa, the film’s lead, is the picture’s weak link. He doesn’t quite look the part and his acting is a bit wooden at times. He lacks charisma and just isn’t that interesting to watch.

    The movie is interesting, however, and not just because it’s a late period gothic horror. Again, the visuals are impressive, all the more so in this presentation which restores the proper widescreen aspect ratio allowing us to better take in the compositions and production values.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Garaghouse Pictures presents Web Of The Spider “fully restored and mastered from an uncut, domestic theatrical negative in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio” in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. While there are moments where the transfer is less than pristine, if you’ve seen this before you’ll be more than impressed. This film has always looked like garbage on home video and seeing it in a nicely restored high definition presentation is a bit of a revelation to be sure. Colors generally look nice, black levels too. There’s a bit of print damage in a few spots but it’s minor stuff. Skin tones look nice and detail is quite good, texture too. The film is given a high bit rate so there are no compression artifacts to note, nor is there any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction to discuss. There are a few scenes where some banding is noticeable but outside of that, this is a very nice transfer indeed.

    The DTS-HD Mono track, in English, is fine. There are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced. Dialogue stays clean, clear and concise and the score sounds quite good in lossless. There are no alternate language options provided.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary by DVD Drive-In’s George Reis and filmmaker Keith Crocker that does a solid job of discussing the film’s history. Not only do they cover Margheriti’s work here and on other films but they rightly make comparisons to Castle Of Blood and other Italian gothic horrors. They talk up the sets, the style and the cast, making some interesting observations about Kinski’s work here and telling some interesting stories about Franciosa’s career and how he wound up getting into hot water with a prominent film producer, something that may or may not have been responsible for his career heading to the small screen. A second commentary track finds Stephen Romano flying solo, shooting straight from the hip about what he thinks works and doesn’t about this film and about Italian genre films in general. He too talks up the performances, Kinski in particular gets a lot of air time here, and provides some critical analysis and occasionally genuinely humorous observations about the picture.

    If that weren’t enough, Garagehouse has supplied two German Super 8 movie digest versions of the film, both running roughly seventeen minutes in length. Some of us always get a kick out of seeing these, if you fall into that niche, you’ll geek out over this material – it’s fascinating to see what gets cut and what gets left in when movies are chopped down to work with much shorter running times like they have been here.

    There’s also an Antonio Margheriti trailer reel, a Garagehouse Pictures trailer reel (featuring two spots for Castle Of Blood and one a piece for Lightning Bolt, The Wild Wild Planet, The Stranger And The Gunfighter, The Squeeze, Killer Fish, Yor: The Hunter From The Future and Code Name: Wild Geese), a still gallery and a single deleted scene that runs four minutes and presents a racier version of the barn scene culled from the German cut of the film.

    Maybe most importantly of all, Garagehouse has also seen fit to include the uncut Italian version of the film, with English subtitles. This version runs almost one hundred and eleven minutes versus the feature versions ninety-three minutes, so it is quite a bit longer. Much of that longer running time is taken up by more dialogue and the picture is a talkier one in this version. The title cards are obviously different as well. The presentation isn’t nearly as nice (you can see from the screen caps), it’s a standard definition offering, but it is at least in anamorphic widescreen with English subtitles. This movie has been around in a few different cuts, some running as short as eighty-six minutes, and this one appears to be the longest known version.




    Also worth mentioning is the slick new cover artwork by Stephen Romano – a nice touch.

    The Final Word:

    Web Of The Spider is interesting enough, particularly if you’re a fan of Italian gothic horror pictures. It’s worth seeing for the visuals alone, though the presence of Kinski and Mercier definitely add to the film’s merits. Garagehouse Pictures has done a fine job bringing this picture to Blu-ray providing two cuts of the film and plenty of other extras. All in all, a pretty impressive release and a huge upgrade over what we’ve had in the past.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































    And a few caps from the uncut version!


















    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      Nice review Ian, I'll probably pick this up soon. That uncut version looks a little soft, but the restored version looks pretty good. I don't recall ever watching this, does Kinski have a large role in this one?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      His part is definitely more of a supporting role, he's basically just in the beginning setup scene and in the end.