Professor Alan Whitmore (Roland Wybenga), co-ordinator on a project investigating a strange religious sect, travels to Budapest to retrieve a missing report where he becomes entangled in a web of intrigue, murder and occult activity.
Although its stylish cinematography, shocking violence and dreamlike atmosphere were undoubtedly influenced by Dario Argento's supernatural classics Suspiria and Inferno, and its narrative is eerily similar to Roman Polanski's under-rated occult horror The Ninth Gate, The Spider Labyrinth is no second-rate knock off: in my humble opinion, it is far a more accomplished work than either of Argento's celebrated movies, and it preceded Polanski's film by more than a decade.
Morphing slowly from a giallo-style murder mystery into a surreal Lovecraftian horror where ancient gods and their murderous followers secretly conspire to spread their evil around the globe, The Spider Labyrinth is a brilliantly crafted nightmare, tinged with a sense of paranoia and madness, packed with cool visuals, laced with eroticism, and topped off with several standout scary moments: appearances by a supernaturally strong, knife-wielding hag are guaranteed to send a shiver up the spine; a suitably freaky finale features some truly unsettling FX work from Sergio Stivaletti; meanwhile, fans of sexy Euro-babes are catered for by the lovely Paola Rinaldi as Genevieve Weiss, Whitmore's enigmatic (and frequently naked) contact in Budapest, and Claudia Muzi as hot hotel maid Maria.
As far as I know, The Spider Labyrinth still awaits an official DVD release, which I think is a travesty for such a fine film; until some enterprising company snaps it up and gives it the treatment it deserves, fans of bizarre Euro-horror will have to make do with the bootleg version that is available, a VHS transfer I believe, but still well worth getting ones mitts on.
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