Orgy of the Dead

Color, 1991, 98 mins. 48 secs.
Directed by Vasili Mass
Starring Aurelija Anuzhite, Liubomiras Laucevicius, Algirdas Paulavicius, Mirdza Martinsone
Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

A Spiderwild unknown Spiderquantity to most viewers, this psychedelic and often jaw-dropping Eastern European mash up of Walerian Borowczyk and Alain Robbe-Grillet is exactly the kind of thing you love to see from venerable wild world label Mondo Macabro. As the title and packaging imply, it's a startling visual feast about a young woman who gets ravished by a giant spider -- but that doesn't even begin to convey what watching the film is actually like.

The sole directorial outing for production designer Vasili Mass, this Latvian production follows the surreal experiences of auburn-haired beauty Vita (Anuzhite), who gets a job as a religious model for the Virgin Mary in a painting by Albert (Laucevicius) designed to bring solace to the homeless. Plagued by hallucinatory dreams involving insects and arcane rituals, she finds the assignment unexpectedly intense as she starts having wild, Hieronymus Bosch-inspired visions of medieval torture and decadence. After going home and making out with a mirror, she finds things getting even stranger when Albert show up in her bedroom waving around a flaming torch. Then a spider creeping around at the foot of her bed grows to enormous size and assaults her, leaving large bit marks all over her back. Vita decides to take a trip to her relatives in the countryside, but instead the rural Spidersetting only leads to heightened sexualized nightmares.

SpiderA real original, Spider (original title: Zirneklis) barely tries to assemble any kind of linear plot; it's obviously intended as more of a dreamlike plunge into a young woman's perception of the world with tensions simmering between her spirit and libido, which makes for some fantastic horror imagery and a wildly unpredictable viewing experience. The giant arachnid scene are obviously standouts (with the creature's old-school practical appearance a real asset even if it's far from realistic), and the fearless Anuzhite carries herself well through a challenging series of encounters that may or may not be real, depending on how you choose to read it.

Culled from a new 4K scan of the original negative, Mondo Macabro's Blu-ray release looks gorgeous with the delicate sometimes powdery cinematography registering nicely throughout. The Russian LPCM 2.0 stereo track sounds excellent throughout and does what it can with the film's weakest element, a thin and reedy electronic music score that cries out for a fuller arrangement. The LPCM Russian stereo track sounds good throughout and does what it can with the film's weakest element, a thin and reedy electronic music score that cries out Spiderfor fuller arrangements. Spider

The most substantial extra here is an Interview with director Mass (32m34) about his production design work proving he could handle the film, the role director Aloizs Brencs played in getting him the gig, the impossibly tiny budget, the transitional nature of the relationship between Latvia and the Soviet Union with its relaxed censorship at the time, and the film's contrasting reception in its native country versus Moscow. Also included is an intriguing black-and-white newsreel piece (3m17s) showing the cast and crew at work including a close peek at some of the makeup and costume work. Definitely recommended and proof that there are still plenty more undiscovered little treasures still hiding out there

Spider Spider Spider Spider Spider


Reviewed on October 6, 2017.