Sexy Latvian creature feature: The Spider (1991)
It’s Halloween and we thought we’d mark the occasion with a post about one-of-a-kind erotic horror film from Latvia – The Spider (Zirneklis, directed by Vasili Mass, 1992) The film was released the next year after Latvia restored its independence from the Soviet Union, which places it in the historically curious context of the Soviet Union’s death convulsions and the birth of the new Latvian Republic.
The Spider starts with the quote “Subconscious sex drives are closely linked with the sense of terror” and, as lame as it is to quote good old Sigmund Freud, the epigraph suits the film well.
The Spider is a very Freudian psychosexual drama following a young beauty Vita, who is modelling for a painting of Virgin Mary. At her first visit to the studio of the shady artist Albert, Vita is caught in the net of his sinister universe. In a visually stunning sequence personages of Albert’s paintings come to life and attack Vita. The girl breaks away only to realise she’s now in the toils of some dark forces.
Albert senses the awakening of Vita’s libido, and by night manifests himself in the form of a giant spider and sexually possesses her. The film builds up to the final battle between good and evil, played out against Vita’s sexual self-exploration.
Apparitions and dreams of the main heroine are filmed in style of the 1970s Italian horror, and on the whole, the erotically somber imagery of The Spider makes it a very rich watching experience.
Even the sequences of coitus between Vita and the creature are rather well staged and tend to resemble Żuławski’s Possession (1981), rather than Corman’s Galaxy of Terror (also 1981). Actually, on the whole the film is constantly balancing between the macabre eminence of Żuławski’s masterpiece and the sleaze of Corman’s production. The Spider is like an adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” that tends to Jean Cocteau’s vision of the fairy tale, but also doesn’t hesitate to appeal to more basic instincts of the ex-Soviet information-hungry viewer.