Mesa of Lost Women (1953)

This is one of those movies that could only have been made in the Fifties.

After a classic Film-Noir-ish opening in which a couple stumbles out of the Muerte (aka, Death) Desert, the guy begins to tell his story in flashback.

Mind you, it then jumps to yet another flashback from a minor character who never is actually shown doing anything that makes him important to the story.  But nobody seems to have told the narrator that.

Seems we’ve got a mad scientist lurking on top of this almost inaccessible Mesa in the desert, where he’s doing all sorts of wacky mad-scientisty stuff, like making giant spiders.  And sexy spider women who do whatever he tells them.  And dwarfish guys. And a dancer named Tarantella who isn’t much bothered by being shot.

Then a famous doctor, driven mad by one of his experiments, highjacks a plane which lands on top of the Mesa with the usual group of squabbling people, where they soon learn that weird strangers and monsters lurk all around them in the darkness…

Don’t expect Citizen Kane here.  In fact, it’s generally considered to be one of those worst ever movies.

However, I have to confess a certain affection for it.  Sure it spends far too much time with the main characters stumbling around in the dark (even if it’s almost half an hour into this very short film before they reach the Mesa), and its endlessly repetitive guitar score only avoids driving the audience mad thanks to its short running time.  But it is interesting to see a pre-Addams Family Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) as the mad scientist and Wild, Wild West‘s Doctor Loveless himself (Angelo Rossitto) as one of the mad scientists’s henchmen.

And it has that outrageous over-active imagination that distinguishes the merely bad film from something that pushes on and explores all new worlds of badness.

So don’t be scared by it.  It’s too goofy not to love.

And it’s still better than the latest SF disaster film on SyFy.


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