Alan Whitmore, a young American researcher, goes to Budapest to visit Professor Roth, with whom he collaborated on a secret project called "Intextus". Arrived in the Hungarian capital, Alan...
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Alan Whitmore, a young American researcher, goes to Budapest to visit Professor Roth, with whom he collaborated on a secret project called "Intextus". Arrived in the Hungarian capital, Alan finds Roth whom, in panic, hands him a black book which he says should include information of the utmost importance.
"Spider Labyrinth" is a strange and slow but engaging Giallo-type thriller that doesn't have any big names involved in the production (except maybe if you're an insider special effects wizard Sergio Stivaletti) but it nevertheless stands as one of the greatest undiscovered gems of late 80's Italian horror cinema. Around this time, the Giallo (which is essentially a stalk & slash movie with some additional trademarks) ran low on inspiration, but this movie brings some imaginative diversity to the sub genre by adding occult sub plots. Sort of like Sergio Martino already attempted to achieve in the early seventies with "All the Colors of the Dark". The plot opens with a brief but atmospheric flashback/dream sequence immediately clarifying the protagonist's link and phobia for large spiders; a small detail that will prove very relevant later in the film. Alan Whitmore is an American professor studying ancient dead languages. He's part of his university's project called Intextus, which concerns professors from all around the globe collaborating to translate and comprehend one specific long lost language. The correspondent in Budapest Prof. Roth hasn't been heard of in a long time and, since his input is particularly fundamental, Alan is assigned to travel to Hungary and meet up with him. Alan arrives in an overall uncanny and hostile environment, but nevertheless comes into contact with Roth through his amiable and stunningly beautiful secretary Genevieve. Shortly after, Prof. Roth is found murdered under mysterious circumstances and Alan gradually becomes sucked deeper and deeper into a (spider's) cobweb of occult conspiracies. Slow and indistinctive at first, "Spider Labyrinth" marvelously unfolds into a hugely macabre and unnerving thriller. Considering the plot (and perhaps after a few slight changes) and some of the malignant characters, THIS should have been the final chapter in Dario Argento's Three Mothers trilogy! Director Gianfranco Giagni may perhaps be a relatively unknown name in the Italian horror industry, but he promptly proves himself to be capable of maintaining a grisly atmosphere throughout the film and even proportionally builds up more tension towards a literally mesmerizing climax. The sinister Budapest filming locations form the ideal setting for a tale like this, but everything else is entirely Giagni's accomplishment (like, for example, empty swings and toy balls bouncing seemly by themselves). Then, last but not least, there's the work of Sergio Stivaletti in the special effects department. The effects and particularly those during the finale are shocking and masterfully nauseating. I've always been a big fan of Sergio Stivaletti's 'art' and once again he surpassed himself his own craftsmanship. If you like horror, and I do mean Horror with a capital H, I guarantee you'll be staring at the last fifteen minutes of "Spider Labyrinth" with your mouth and eyes wide open. Bravo, Mr. Stivaletti!
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