Nella stretta morsa del ragno (1971) Poster

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A Gorgeous Gothic Opera
david melville3 March 2004
The opening of this film treats us to Klaus Kinski in twice his usual state of delirium - thrashing about in a shadowy, cobweb-laden crypt. He's playing Edgar Allan Poe, and he looks the very embodiment of an absinthe-soaked poete maudit. His role, alas, turns out to be little more than a glorified cameo! Still, he sets the tone admirably for the next 90 minutes of flickering candelabra, ethereal vampire beauties and white muslin curtains billowing softly by moonlight.

It would be easy to dismiss this movie as a compendium of Gothic horror cliches. Easy but unfair, I feel. Like any other highly stylised art form (Romantic ballet, bel canto opera...) a Gothic tale rests on a set of unreal and perhaps arbitrary conventions. Much of a fan's pleasure depends on how faithfully, how stylishly, these conventions are played out. In truest Gothic horror tradition, Nella Stretta Morsa del Ragno does very little that's new - but does it in grand style!

In a nutshell, the fiendishly deranged Poe inveigles a young journalist (Anthony Franciosa) into spending a night in a creepy old mansion. The family who inhabit this mansion seem to spend all their time dying and coming back to life. The rest of the 'plot' is predictable enough, but Michele Mercier (as the most glamorous ghoul) looks stunning whether dead or undead. Her romantic agonies are offset by Ottavio Scotti's splendid Gothic art direction. If the editing and camerawork look a little choppy at times, I blame the ghastly pan-and-scan job on my video copy.
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I recently found myself an original Italian widescreen print of this film that is gorgeous, and helps explain some of the negative user comments about it. Nella stretta morsa del ragno, as I have been taught to call it, is more than just a technicolor revisitation of Antonio Marghetti's CASTLE OF BLOOD. The problem is that he tried to make it much too more -- to explore the period detail in particular -- and in doing so the focus of the film became muddled.

One of the aspects that made CASTLE OF BLOOD so remarkable was Marghetti's use of light and dark in such a calculated manner -- whenever Alan Foster strikes a match or lights a candle, it is an EVENT within the framework of the shot. In NELLA STRETTA, candles and matches become props to be carried around by characters to establish the sense of place & setting.

Marghetti's greatest miscalculation, though, was in lighting his sets to show off the rich, exquisite detail his larger budget could afford. The result is a series of events that look like they were filmed on a movie set, not a nightmare playing out in front of our eyes in living black and white. On that plane of reasoning, NELLA STRETTA has more in common with Marghetti's VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG with Christopher Lee, which is all about color picture texture and the musical score. NELLA STRETTA also amps up the music, with a Robert Fripp-ish atonal guitar riff that pops up whenever something weird is about to happen. The film this becomes almost formulaic, and the suspense generated in CASTLE OF BLOOD becomes more of a slog to get to the good parts.

And there is one really, REALLY good part: I still remember it scaring me so much as a kid I refused to go into our basement for weeks afterwards ... It is the segment when Dr. Carmus takes his little trip down into the Blackwood family crypt and finds something that should probably have best gone undisturbed.

'Tis a pity, though, that an adventurous company like Blue Underground or Anchor Bay Entertainment doesn't resurrect and "restore" this bizarre, flawed but interesting bit of Eurohorror; With his widescreen shot compositions and color schemes intact, the Italian cut I found not only runs circles around the prints turning up on the Brentwood and Diamond DVD sets, but it does away with the "another film where every shot is a closeup" charge -- those closeups are the result of a widescreen image being chopped, reformatted and blown up to play back on television sets. And, as is evident in the latest DVD release by Diamond, some of the distributors looped, slowed down or even froze individual frames to cover up what little graphic luridness that Marghetti used and was deemed unacceptable.

Yet right there we come to the meat of the thesis on why NELLA STRETTA MORSA DEL RAGNO will always be looked upon as less than a success -- it is too tame for the time period it was made in. The Italian print does include some very brief nudity and, like the Synapse DVD release of CASTLE OF BLOOD, spends more time establishing the illicit lesbian relationship between Elizabeth and Julia ... But it's nothing too thrilling, and by today's standards the whole affair has the shock effect of a good DARK SHADOWS episode.

Yet it is worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of atmospheric 1970's period Eurohorror with a touch of the erotic. Timeless Video's VHS runs 94 minutes but has really awful color rot to the print. Brentwood's print from the CIRCUS OF DEATH and TALES OF TERROR box sets runs about 96 minutes and looks a bit better, but not much. For the present, the version to go with for US buyers is to be found on Diamond's double bill DVD with CIRCUS OF FEAR, runs about 98 minutes, has a somewhat richer color range and much better quality audio, and for it's budget line price you really can't beat it.

I give WEB OF THE SPIDER/NELLA STRETTA MORSA DEL RAGNO *** out of ****, but only because I have a soft spot for it, and still feel the hair rise up on my neck whenever Dr. Carmus lights his candle and goes looking for that breathing sound .... shiver!
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Nowhere Near as Great as "Danza Macabra", but still Atmospheric Gothic Horror
Witchfinder General 6669 October 2009
Right after Mario Bava, the late Antonio Margheriti was arguably the second-greatest Italian Gothic Horror director, his doubtlessly most ingenious work being the 1964 masterpiece "Danza Macabra" (aka. "Castle of Blood") starring the one and only Barbara Steele. "Danza Macabra" easily ranks among the most brilliant and fascinating Gothic Horror films ever made, and I was therefore sceptical about this "Nella stretta morsa del ragno" aka. "In the Grip of the Spider" (1971), a remake which Margheriti made of his own film only seven years later. While "In the Grip of the Spider" does in no way equal (or even come close to) the greatness of "Danza Macabra", however, it is nonetheless an atmospheric, creepy and highly entertaining film that every fellow fan of Italian Gothic Horror should enjoy.

The storyline is more or less the same as in "Danza Macabra": When interviewing Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski), a journalist Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa) makes a bet with a sinister count. Foster has to spend a night alone in the count's eerie, presumably haunted mansion. When the first after his arrival is the beautiful Elisabeth Blackwood (Michèle Mercier), Foster does not foresee the horrors that he is about to experience... Anthony Franciosa is always great, most fellow Italian Horror fans will agree that he had his greatest moment in Dario Argento's "Tenebre" (1982); and who would not love a film that begins with the credits: "Klaus Kinski as Edgar Allan Poe"? Michèle Mercier is a beauty, but she is no Barbara Steele. Barbara Steele is my all-time favorite actress and her mere appearance is such an enrichment to all the great Gothic gems she has starred in that a remake with someone else in her role is most likely to disappoint. She is dearly missed in this one, even though Miss Mercier is in no way bad. "Danza Macabra" is one of the most atmospheric and eerily beautiful Horror films ever made. "In the Grip of the Spider" can not compete with the wonderful mood of the original, even though the film is nicely filmed in cool, eerie settings. It really is a blast to see Klaus Kinski play Edgar Allan Poe, however. While the film mostly keeps the storyline of "Danza Macabra", Margheriti added a long opening sequence which consists mainly of Kinski wandering through eerie tombs in search of a grave. Before seeing this, I expected it to be more exploitative than "Danza Macabra", but the film is actually quite low on sleaze and violence. Overall, "In the Grip of the Spider" is nowhere near as brilliant as "Danza Macabra", but it is definitely still atmospheric, creepy and vastly enjoyable Gothic Horror. My fellow Italian Horror buffs can definitely give this a try, but should make sure to see "Danza Macabra" first.
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I was surprised...and surprised again...!
crystalart18 April 2009
I REALLY like Klaus Kinski. He made some wonderful movies like Aguirre: Wrath of God, Fitzgaraldo, Android and I buy anything with him in it.

I bought Web of the Spider because of Klaus. Well, you can forget about that. I peered into the darkness of the opening scenes and tried with some difficulty to tell if I was looking at K.K. or not.

At the end of the movie there was more of the same, and most of it could have been left out...plotwise.

I was a little let down, but I stuck with it, and was surprised at the quality of this little gem! It's atmospheric and moody and well done.

I enjoyed my first viewing of it tonight, and I'm looking forward to watching it again.
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Antonio Margheriti dances macabre ... again
matheusmarchetti22 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Antonio Margheriti's 1971 remake of his classic "Castle of Blood" has always been criticized for being inferior in every level to it's predecessor. While I do think "Castle of Blood" is a better film, "In the Web of the Spider" does not stand so far behind. Made on a bigger budget than the 1964 version, Margheriti does a good thing by taking a different aesthetic approach than the candle-lit B&W nightmare that is the latter, and instead lighting up the set with a nice range of deep blues and orange gels to show off the more elaborate locations. It also enjoys a better cast than the original, with a highlight being the presence of Klaus Kinski as Edgar Allan Poe. At first glance, he might not seem very right for the role, but he truly nails it in a absolutely maddening performance. They even made his role slightly larger than the original, by adding a superbly creepy introduction scene in a crypt that sets the tone for the rest of the picture. Albeit not as memorable as Barbara Steele, Michele Mercier (the protagonist from the Telephone segment of Mario Bava's "Black Sabbath") is a good replacement and she has great chemistry with Anthony Franciosa (Argento's "Tenebre"), even more so than Steele and Riviere in "Castle...". Also, I found the film to be somewhat more frightening than it's predecessor, specially towards the ending. The best example of which is the scene where Carmus descends into the crypt and coms across a corpse being reanimated. The effects used in the scene are more subtle, but all the more effective in my view. Riz Ortolani's score is rather uneven. There are some memorable tunes, particularly the hauntingly beautiful love theme and the song that plays during the ball sequence, but the rest is a routine and rather distracting orchestra piece intended to create a creepy environment, whereas there are more than a few scenes where I think absolute silence would've made it all the more effective. Still, it doesn't really ruin the picture, and as I've said, it wasn't all bad. The film's major problem is the fact that it's virtually a scene-by-scene remake of the original. Surely, there are some slight improvements, such as the shirtless, hunky ghost that was looked silly in the original is now dressed and more menacing-looking, and the ending is also more subtle and tragic. Still, these elements are only a very small portion of the piece, and while they do make a difference, the whole thing failed to impress me story-wise, because I knew exactly what was going to happen next in every scene. There are no big changes and/or improvements to make it essential viewing for those who have already seen "Castle of Blood", which is a pity really, since it does have some great assets and even surpasses the latter in some ways. Also, where "Castle of Blood" felt provocative and ahead of it's time with it's depiction of sex and lesbianism, "In the Web of the Spider" feels way too restrained and tame, specially for a film that came one year after "The Vampire Lovers", which dealt with some similar themes. The sole 'gore' scene we get to see is in the very end, and is restrained to a brief shot of blood flowing from Franciosa's wound. Mind you, I'm not a gorehoud, nor do I think violence is essential to make a horror film good, but in this case I think it was more than necessary, if only to make it stand out from the original. None of these cons stopped it from being a fun and atmospheric slice of Italian Gothic, but it makes me sad to give it a mere a 7/10. If you're a fan of this type of film and haven't seen "Castle of Blood" yet, I think you might better watch this one first, but otherwise I unfortunately can't go as far as calling it the forgotten gem of continental horror it could have been.
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Castle of the Bloody Flashbacks
Coventry16 October 2008
Some people really suck at negotiating business deals. "In the Grip of the Spider" revolves on a guy who accepts a bet to spend the night in a secluded and reputedly haunted castle and if he survives the ordeal, he receives the astonishing, stupendous and exhilarating reward of … 10 pounds! Ten pounds?!? Even in the 19th century this probably wasn't even enough to pay the coachman to drive you back to civilization! At least the eccentric Vincent Price offered his guests $10.000 to spend one night in his house on haunted hill; now there's a guy you can do business with! "In the Grip of the Spider" is an accomplishment of the hugely underrated Italian director Antonio Margheriti (better known under his international alias Anthony M. Dawson) and apparently a remake of his very own Gothic horror classic "Castle of Blood" starring Barbara Steele. By doing this Margheriti was far ahead of his time, as it's extremely popular among directors nowadays to remake their own earlier movies. Unfortunately I haven't seen "Castle of Blood" (or at least not yet), so I can't compare, but reliable sources tell me this early 70's version can't hold a candle to the original. This may be so, but I still wouldn't call "In the Grip of the Spider" a bad film – especially not if you're a sucker for Gothic atmospheres. Admittedly the storyline is a little flimsy and unspectacular, but the film nevertheless has several things going for it, like the presence of Klaus Kinski (depicting no less than Edgar Allen Poe), lovely luscious ladies and a downright sardonic finale. The American journalist Alan Foster is desperate to get an interview from the notorious novelist Edgar Allen Poe, but he gets more than he bargained for when Poe and his friend challenge him to spend the night at Blackwood castle. Convinced that ghosts and vampires don't exist, Foster accepts and remains alone in the dark and ominous castle. Things start out great for him, as the lucky bastard even has sex with the perplexing beauty who appears out of nowhere. Several more suspicious individuals make their appearance and, through flashback, Alan gradually learns they're all ghosts trapped inside the castle for all eternity. "In the Grip of the Spider" is slightly overlong (110min) and a lot of footage easily could have been cut. There's a lot of ballroom dancing and painting observing going on, which is quite unnecessary and in fact only undermines the atmosphere of Gothic morbidity. The scenes where random characters dwell through the castle's catacombs and stumble upon ancient tombs are irrelevant to the plot at well, but at least they fit the Gothic concept. The rare moments when Kinski appears on screen are sublime – even though he doesn't even remotely resemble the real Edgar Allan Poe – since there is no other actor more suitable to play a neurotic and lightly inflammable genius than him. Michèle Mercier (as Elizabeth) and Karin Field (as Julia) are both extremely beautiful and sexy starlets, but I'm sort of convinced that Barbara Steele was even better than the two of them combined in the original. I guess I'll have to track that one down as soon as possible. Overall this is a flawed but interesting film, recommend to fans of vintage Italian Goth-horror.
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Ghosts story
dbdumonteil14 January 2007
When Michèle Mercier appears in the sequence when she's still "alive" and puts on a necklace,it is obvious that the director was thinking of her "Angelique " character.The scene looks like an outtake of the Bernard Borderie's saga.

"Nella..." is certainly an underrated work:it does not rely on special effects or on gore and sex is kept to the minimum.Probably influenced by Bava,Margheriti creates fear with his camera ,using elements of the settings ,a mirror for instance.His lead is an earnest thespian,Anthony Franciosa, a former student of the Actor's Studio,not a mediocre amateur as we often meet in European horror movies.Supernatural is smartly introduced and the screenplay is much more elaborated than usually.Many people will disagree but Amenabar's style in "the others" is not that much different,even if that director is infinitely superior to Margheriti."Nella..." was also certainly influenced by Robert Wise's classic "the haunting " (1963!!!) as far as the conclusion is concerned.

Poe's presence (Klaus Kinski) and the fact that the hero's first name is "Allan" do not bring much to the movie.

In spite of the poor rating,I sincerely believe that fantasy and horror buffs won't waste their time if they watch "nella...."
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Beautifully photographed Gothic horror story.
bfan834 March 2005
Although I haven't seen CASTLE OF BLOOD, the earlier film version of this movie. I can still say that it was beautifully photographed, and painfully atmospheric. Which is a good thing. I picked this film up in a 20 movie- 10 DVD boxed set titled NIGHTMARES FROM THE CRYPT. From what I hear, this movie was extremely rare to come by. I'm glad to see that it has a new DVD release. I say stop by Sam Goody, pick up the boxed set for $30 and have a horror film weekend with some friends. And be sure to watch this film first, with all the lights off. You'll love it. Now, I'm going to go pick up CASTLE OF BLOOD so I can compare. Have fun!
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Great Looking Gothic Ghost Tale
Mark Turner9 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
One things has to be said for the smaller DVD/Blu-ray releasing companies. They are taking the time and putting the effort into putting out some long lost films in the most gorgeous looking condition that can be found anywhere. When these same films were released on video way back when the worst looking prints were found and a quick buck was made. Now time is being taken and the difference is visible with each new release. Some call it a niche market. I call it a labor of love.

Garagehouse Pictures is just such a company and while their releases come out slowly they are done to perfection. I mentioned a while back their release of the film THE INTRUDER. Now they've released another film that is worth picking up for fans of horror films, especially those made in Italy.

WEB OF THE SPIDER is a remake of the film CASTLE OF BLODD, the much loved black and white Italian production that starred Barbara Steele. Both films are directed by Antonio Margheriti under the pseudonym Anthony M. Dawson.

The story revolves around a drunken Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski) telling tales in a bar for drinks while in England. In walks Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa), a journalist who has been seeking out Poe for an interview. They begin to talk about life, death and what happens after but while Poe believes in ghosts Foster does not. Poe and his friend Thomas Blackwood challenge Foster to put his money where his mouth is and suggest he spend the night in the castle owned by Blackwood.

Foster takes the challenge and the three head to the castle. He's been told by Blackwood that no one has ever survived an overnight visit to the castle on this night as it is All Hallow's Eve. Foster scoffs at the idea of the supernatural and the trio arrive at the gate and the pair leave Foster to fend for himself. He gets through the front gate, walks through a cemetery in front of the estate and finds his way in.

A quick walkthrough of the lower floors, a few passages played on a harpsichord and soon he finds himself face to face with Elisabeth Blackwood (Michele Mercier). She shows him around the estate, talking about things that have happened there. Forster is intrigued by this beautiful woman so much that he begins to fall in love with her.

But as the night moves forward things begin to happen. Where once there were cobwebs and dust there is now a ballroom filled with guests dancing away the night. Elisabeth is now in the arms of her husband as Forster begins to witness the past before his eyes and learns that Elisabeth is not what he thought but just one of many ghosts in the house.

As the night progresses Foster learns of what happened to each of the various apparitions he sees before him. Will he survive the night? Or is there some insidious reason that these wraiths have appeared before him, some need they have for him to continue on with their own survival? The movie is a classic styled Gothic horror film from the setting and costumes to the customs of the time, both past and present in the tale. The sets in use are wonderfully detailed and bring to life the story that unfolds. Not only that we're offered the film in a widescreen presentation, something that's been missing for some time.

The acting is above what most would expect in a film with this sort of topic. Franciosa was an underrated actor who should have garnered better roles. Even so he put his all into the roles he had and it shows in this one. Mercier is equally up to the task matching him from their first scenes together to their last. And Peter Carsten as Dr. Carmus, a ghost who was once a visitor like Forster does a great job as well.

Garagehouse Pictures is releasing this in the best version you'll ever be likely to find. The film has been fully restored and mastered from an uncut, domestic theatrical negative and it shows. The clear, crisp, clean image on view is amazing. In addition to that the film is loaded with extras that include an audio commentary track with George Reis & Keith Crocker, an audio commentary track by Stephen Romano, 2 German Super 8 movie digests, an Antonio Margheriti trailer reel, deleted scenes, an uncut Italian version of the film (non-high def), an art gallery, a collection of Garagehouse Pictures trailers and it features new artwork by Stephen Romano.

Horror fans will want to add this one to their collections. Fans of Italian horror films will be pleased to finally have this film available in such great shape. It offers a sold evening's worth of entertainment and should please most. This is a great example of how good a movie was being made at the time.
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Ever decreasing circles
Bezenby30 October 2017
Thanks for remaking a film you made just six years earlier, Antonio. Seriously, as if I have got enough of these to watch already, we get Castle of Blood remade in colour, with no real differences at all, except that this time Klaus Kinski gets to play Edgar Allan Poe (and therefore 'do a Kinski' by only showing up for a fraction of the film's running time).

To jog your memory, a friend of Poe's called Alan Foster takes up a bet that he can't stay the whole night in the haunted old castle of Lord Blackwood. Foster heads for the seemingly deserted castle, wanders around a bit, then realises that he's not quite alone as Lord Blackwood's sister turns up and starts putting the moves on him, but don't get excited though, it ain't that kind of film.

Is there any point in describing the plot? It's the same as Castle of Blood - the dead come alive and replay the last moments of their lives and Foster is trapped in there with them. Foster even meets the doctor who tells the same speech as last time and kills another snake! Didn't need that then, don't need it now.

I didn't think Castle of Blood was that great a film the first time around, but at least it had Barbara Steele in it. I've no idea what Margharetti was thinking by remaking it, but at least he could have brought the tone in line with the films that were emerging from Italy in the early seventies.
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Hassle at the Castle
dmsesquire22 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Early '70s Italian Gothic horror about a journalist, Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa), who makes a bet with Lord Thomas Blackwood (Enrico Osterman) that he can stay overnight in Blackwood's castle... and survive. Blackwood is good friends with Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski). Such is the vapid nature of this film that Poe's character is totally inconsequential to the plot. Six writers cobbled together the mishmash of a script. Franciosa spends the majority of his on-screen time wielding a candelabra and looking handsome. Finally, some eye candy shows up in the personae of Elisabeth Blackwood and Julia (Michele Mercier and Karin Field). What could have become a ghostly threesome devolves into a convoluted plot about romantic intrigue amongst the better-off-than-you, as shadows of the past reunite for a fancy ball, witnessed by Foster and his unsolicited companion, Dr. Carmus (Peter Carsten), who shows up halfway through the film: He manages to suck whatever life there was out of it, as he assumes the role of expositor and waxes eloquent about what happens to snakes after they are chopped in half. The principals' psychodrama plays out in front of them, and there is much murder and mayhem. Foster interacts effortlessly with these spirits, oblivious to the notion that there might be a trick being played on him. By the time the action ensues, we are ready to call for our last dance card. So cheap was the transfer of this film to video that the copyright shows up about five minutes before the end of the film, an end that doesn't come nearly soon enough.
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Seen on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater in 1980
kevin olzak12 December 2015
In comparing this 1971 remake with its 1964 original, one immediately misses the presence of Barbara Steele, although in both titles the 'heroine' only makes her first appearance at the half hour mark. Director Antonio Margheriti must have felt the absence of color in "Castle of Blood," and really adds little else to this new version, with Michele Mercier's Elisabeth fleshed out to some degree, as we see more of her absent husband, barely seen in the original. All the plot elements are virtually identical, right down to the lesbian love scene, resulting in three corpses lying on the floor in roughly two minutes of lustful activity. It was definitely daring in 1964, but here is treated in such timid, predictable fashion that it loses all the bite of the original. The guest filled ball is the one sequence that adds more running time here, 106 minutes over 1964's 89, Elisabeth juggling multiple affairs while her husband is away in America, and both male and female lovers equally jealous to the point of murder. The main weakness in both versions remains the same, a skeptical journalist who doesn't engender audience empathy with his failure to discover what the audience already knows. I would recommend the black and white version with Barbara Steele over the color one, both of which aired twice on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, between 1976-1982.
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Not as macabre (or as good) as Danse Macabre
The_Void26 June 2006
For some reason, Italian maestro Antonio Margheriti felt the need to remake his masterpiece 'Danse Macabre' almost a decade on; and personally, I can't see a single good reason for doing so. The original worked mainly through its atmosphere rather than its plot, and this was put across well through the stunning black and white photography. In the move from black and white to colour, the film has lost the main thing that made it great; and the fact that Margheriti doesn't handle the plot as well this time around ensures that this film isn't much more than an interesting cult film. In typical Italian fashion, the plot doesn't make a great deal of sense; and this is made all the more infuriating by the fact that it doesn't have the stunning Gothic atmosphere to fall back on. The plot follows a journalist by the name of Alan Foster, who ends up making a bet with the great Edgar Allen Poe that he can spend a single night in an old Gothic castle, which is rumoured to be inhabited by ghosts. While in the castle, the journalist encounters several strange characters; and soon finds out that they're more than they seem.

The only real name on the cast list belongs to cult German actor Klaus Kinski, who gives the only memorable performance of the film in the role of Edgar Allen Poe. The original film benefited from the presence of the beautiful Barbara Steele; but this film has to make do with Michèle Mercier, who isn't particularly bad; but is no Barbara Steele. Anthony Franciosa ('Tenebrae') takes the lead role, and like much of the rest of the film; is instantly forgettable. The atmosphere surrounding the central location isn't too foreboding, and the sets look more cheap than Gothic. Margheriti does help the film along by way of a number of shots that help to build the atmosphere; the scene that sees smoke edging down a flight of stairs being the standout. There is a sense of beauty about the film, and while the plot always feels like an afterthought - it does bode well enough to fully fit the style of the film. However, there are too many tedious scenes and for everyone that works, there's at least two that don't. Overall, this film may be a point of interest for fans of 'Danse Macabre' (myself included), but I really can't rate as a film worth tracking down.
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Bad to the 7th power
Snake Plisken20 May 2002
This is one of those terrible 70's films where every shot is a close-up.

Terrible is the only way to describe it. Kinsky is a terrible Poe.

The haunted house consists of people dancing.

Avoid at all costs...really, I mean it!
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Boring with the exception of the guy playing Poe.
Aaron137515 June 2004
The guy who was Poe was certainly the highlight of this very dull flick. Unfortunately, he is not in it enough to save the pick, rather he is sort of a movie bookend. For the rest of the movie we have a guy trying to win a bet by staying at a haunted house. A house no one has ever gotten out of basically he has to survive the night to win the bet. If he loses, well losing will be the least of his concerns. As soon as he arrives at the castle he meets lovely ladies and later a scientist who explains the situation. All the while nothing all that horrifying really occurs as we are treated to a few flashback like scenes. Truly a boring spectacle awaits you when you watch this least for me. Sure the scientist guy was kind of interesting too, but this is a movie that could use maybe a killing or two more, maybe a bit of nudity, certainly some time cut from its running time would have helped. Still though it ends interestingly enough and there are some people who may like this kind of horror drama hybrid.
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Decent But Can't Hold a Candle to the Original
Michael_Elliott8 March 2018
Web of the Spider (1971)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Journalist Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa) is having a conversation with Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski) when a bet is made. The bet is that Alan can't spend an entire night inside the Blackwood Castle where there are rumors of strange things inside.

I've always enjoyed watching remakes because it gives someone a new stab at some familiar material. There were a handful of directors like John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock who managed to remake their own works, which is an even more interesting thing to do. Italian director Antonio Margheriti made CASTLE OF BLOOD in 1964 and seven years later he'd do a color remake with WEB OF THE SPIDER.

As I said, I really do enjoy watching remakes but there's no question that this film is really lacking when compared to the original. I think the biggest issue that this film has is the fact that it's in color and this just takes away so much from the story. The original film contained some great B&W cinematography that actually added to the atmosphere and it actually helped make a rather eerie picture. The sets and costume design look great here and the cinematography is great but the color just really doesn't help matters.

I'd also argue that the slow nature of the film really doesn't help matters either. The problem is that there's really not much of an atmosphere here and it's certainly not creepy so the slow-burn that the director goes for just isn't as successful as I'm sure he was hoping. Yet another problem is that there just isn't anything fresh or original done with the material outside of the opening scenes with Kinski playing Poe. These early scenes were actually quite good and it's too bad that Kinski doesn't stick around for long.

I thought Franciosa was good in the lead role and Michele Mercier is good as the mysterious Elisabeth. Kinski clearly steals the film but he's only at the beginning and end. As I said, WEB OF THE SPIDER is technically well-made but on its own it just doesn't have enough to really work. When compared to the original, it makes this one all the more forgettable.
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Worth watching to add ya own dialogue, perhaps?
Bofsensai31 December 2016
Only adding that - until more caringly reissued (as well noted in other best review here=see S. Nylund '03) - since you'll likely come across the more commonly available pan and scan version, you can add fun here, not only watching to guess all the likely shouted direction to Francis in his ponderous constant close ups (look this way Anthony; now the other; smirk, smile, grimace …) as he wanders almost wordlessly around the haunted mansion, but also, being it is largely dialogue free, you can surely add extra enjoyment by shouting in your own dialogue, instead! In any case, bookend Kinski's character is obviously - and travesty so - dubbed, so losing his patent maniacal deliveries which it could have well done with.)

And so p-o-n-d-e-r-o-u-s-l-y slow paced indeed, that you'll also get plenty o time to carefully appreciate the sets and decor, and by which, for the 'candle wranglers' alone, should get a very special mention for their constant atmospheric efforts here (does candle wax ever drip from candelabras?).
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no blood and hardly any sex
christopher-underwood24 September 2015
Like others i was drawn to this initially because of the presence of Klaus Kinski but unfortunately he only features at the beginning and end. Gives it his all, mind you, perhaps because he has the role of Edgar Allan Poe. Bit too energetically at one point for the flimsy set, where he is bashing away at the grave and we see the headstone bouncing up and down. Otherwise it is Anthony Franciosa who ha to carry much of this, speaking to himself much of the time. Things brighten up when Michele Mercier materialises and even more when another beauty, Karin Field emerges from the depths of this haunted house that is the setting for the entire film. Rather bloodless but occasionally effective and the director seems determined to manage without exposing the young ladies. Ms Mercier was an actress of some standing who became typecast as Angelique so perhaps her hands were tied but there was no excuse for Karin Field whose character tries several times here to seduce her. Field had appeared in a blatant German sex film the same year as well as several Franco films including The Demons and fairly explicit lesbian sex scenes were a speciality. Anyway, here, no blood and hardly any sex means the cast, variously appearing and disappearing have a quite a task in keeping us interested. Sets are OK but little special effects apart from a particularly effective sequences were dry ice is allowed to drop down a stone cellar staircase.
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So bad, it's good
tremain631 November 2005
I picked this one up at the dollar store (for a buck, naturally) and it was well worth the price (but not much more than that). This is classic schlock theater fare, perfect for Halloween. More mood than actual plot. You can't take it too seriously because it takes itself so very seriously and that makes it almost comical at times. This is no cinematic masterpiece, but as long as you keep your expectations realistic, you'll have fun watching it. I wish I knew Italian so I could decipher the original title. Somehow, the American title "Web of the Spider" isn't too descriptive as spiders don't figure very prominently in the plot. I guess it's a metaphor for not being able to get out of a situation once you're in it.
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