22 August, 2017

MARI-COOKIE AND THE KILLER TARANTULA.... An Outrageous Film by Jess Franco












MARI-COOKIE AND THE KILLER TARANTULA (1998-2000)
EIGHT LEGS TO LOVE YOU [European Version}

Produced by One Shot Productions/Draculina Cine 
Directed and Written by Jess Franco
Photography: Raquel Cabra
Music: Jess Franco, Daniel White
Cast: Lina Romay (Mari-Cookie), Analia Ivars, Linnea Quigley,
Michelle Bauer (Sheriff), Robert King, Peter Temboury, Amber Newman.



During the Spanish conquest of Europe a pregnant woman is raped by a conquistador. Shortly afterward, a tarantula enters the woman and deposits its eggs. The spawn is a mutant female who transforms into a lethal spider when sexually aroused. Centuries later, in present day Spain an erotic dancer performs in a bizarre persona,The Killer Tarantula. After her shows she picks up willing victims who will end up entangled in an awesome, tortuous web back at her lair. A local Sheriff (Michelle Bauer) becomes attracted to the performer while investigating the disappearances of several club patrons. Meanwhile, the distraught mother (Linnea Quigley) of a wayward stripper (Amber Newman) seeks out her daughter. All will eventually bear witness to the seductive powers of the mysterious creature.

A squiggly, green title announces "An Outrageous Film by Jess Franco," as if his long time fans needed to be primed for this soft-core horror fantasia. The focus is on kinky sex amidst comic book horror and elements of deliberate self-parody are constantly popping up. The spider-woman motif goes all the way back to the director's 1961 pastel-colored musical VAMPIRESAS 1930 and Estella Blain in the classic MISS MUERTE (1965). Femme fatales are often associated with insects in Franco's filmography, as they are in the films of fellow Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel.

The naked,tormented, half alive bodies of victims hanging in the awesome web festooned across the tarantula's living room, the sado-erotic arachnid rubber-gear, the obsessed audience at the club, are all images which continue Franco's career long obsession with Performance. Cinema is a show and the show is usually an erotic tinged scenario of seduction and death. The show here is illustrated with candy colored lighting and basic digital effects credited to the University of Malaga. As with many final period Jess Franco Spanish-American productions the English language track is somewhat problematic.

The eye popping visual design of glittering colors and outre costumes hold sway during the extended sexual encounters between Romay and everyone else in the cast. Even such risible effects as the inflatable tarantula with a human face seems a reasonable synapse and bears comparison with the mutations in the 1950's version of THE FLY. But this is late 1990s Jess Franco at his most unhinged. No other filmmaker could have imagined, much less filmed, this demented scenario. It's a high spirited Adult cartoon which ensnares its viewers by sheer oddity value. 

Lina Romay performs with enthusiasm and humor in a role few other actresses could handle. She easily manages to upstage American scream queens Bauer and Quigley, although Bauer's Sheriff-outfit of black leather jacket, fedora, g-string and boots is 
something to behold. It all ends with the classic Fu Manchu threat, the world will hear from her again. In the spirit of the old Warner's cartoons there's a final imprint of "That's All Folks!"

I wasn't sure if I liked this film or not when I first saw it  nearly 20 years ago but it does retain its unique oddball charm and Franco did have a way of mastering a tone, even if that tone strikes many normal horror consumers as way off the beam. Actually it's supposed to be a "comedy" a la Jess Franco. But his notion of comedy is what he finds personally amusing. He's a master at the art of ridicule, but not always a master of telegraphing that ridicule to each and every viewer. This is not his worst film, but it's not Tier One Jess Franco. I would recommend it for a single viewing. It has that hallucinatory look which Franco sometimes achieves without really trying. You may ever find yourself smiling at the weird goings on.

(C) Robert Monell, 2017

4 comments:

spektro 72 said...

I did not kwon that Jess Franco had made movies with two belted actresses scream queen's Linnea Quigley & Michelle Bauer .. but one of those movies that we will not see be released here in Brazil,peaking in Brazil had a good news here will we come in the month of September a BOX-dvd with 4 movies his.. phew!Finally our market has given an awake although it will not be a Blu-ray releas,but that's okay!
The films that this distributor has releasd here are : SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1971),BLOOD MOON (1981),(MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE) MORTAL SANCTUARY (1969) ,VAMPYROS LESBOS (1971).
While not commenting anything Iam always seeing your blog and admiring your work in putting dark films of both Jess Franco and directors of seventh art.
A hug from Anselmo Luiz.

spektro 72 said...

I did not kwon that Jess Franco had made movies with two belted actresses scream queen's Linnea Quigley & Michelle Bauer .. but one of those movies that we will not see be released here in Brazil,peaking in Brazil had a good news here will we come in the month of September a BOX-dvd with 4 movies his.. phew!Finally our market has given an awake although it will not be a Blu-ray releas,but that's okay!
The films that this distributor has releasd here are : SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1971),BLOOD MOON (1981),(MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE) MORTAL SANCTUARY (1969) ,VAMPYROS LESBOS (1971).
While not commenting anything Iam always seeing your blog and admiring your work in putting dark films of both Jess Franco and directors of seventh art.
A hug from Anselmo Luiz.

spektro 72 said...

I did not kwon that Jess Franco had made movies with two belted actresses scream queen's Linnea Quigley & Michelle Bauer .. but one of those movies that we will not see be released here in Brazil,peaking in Brazil had a good news here will we come in the month of September a BOX-dvd with 4 movies his.. phew!Finally our market has given an awake although it will not be a Blu-ray releas,but that's okay!
The films that this distributor has releasd here are : SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1971),BLOOD MOON (1981),(MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE) MORTAL SANCTUARY (1969) ,VAMPYROS LESBOS (1971).
While not commenting anything Iam always seeing your blog and admiring your work in putting dark films of both Jess Franco and directors of seventh art.
A hug from Anselmo Luiz.

Robert Monell said...

Thank you, Keep coming!