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Mesa of Lost Women

USA 1953
produced by
Melvin Gordon, J. William Perkins, Joy M. Houck (executive), J. Frances White (executive) for Howco
directed by Herbert Tevos, Ron Ormond
starring Jackie Coogan, Mary Hill, Robert Knapp, Harmon Stevens, Nico Lek, George Barrows, Samuel Wu,Tandra Qunn, Lyle Talbot (narration), Chris-Pin Martin, Allan Nixon, Richard Travis, Kelly Drake, Dolores Fuller, Mona McKinnon, Doris Lee Price, Sherry Moreland, Ginger Sherry, John Martin, Dean Riesner, Chris Randall, Karna Greene, June Benbow, Candy Collins, Angelo Rossitto, Diane Fortier, Katherine Victor, John George, Margia Dean, Fred Kelsey, Doris Hart
written by Herbert Tevos, music by Hoyt Curtin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A couple is found after a death defying stroll through the Mexican desert. As they are brought into the offices of an oil mining company, they tell their story - but as the off-screen narrator (Lyle Talbot) informs us, they don't even know all of the story, so he tells us instead ...

It all started a year ago, when famed scientist Doctor Aranya (Jackie Coogan) invites famed scientist Doctor Masterson (Harmon Stevens) to his lab, which is hidden away on a mesa deep deep in the Mexican desert.

At first, Masterson is fascinated by Aranya's experiments, until he learns what he really intends to produce: Spiders the sice of humans & humans with insect traits, like superhuman strength, relative invulnerability & the ability to grow back organs. Thing is, the experiments are only truly successful on females, since in the insect world, the males are rather useless (& Aranya's male insect/human hybrids have all turned into dwarves) ... Masterson refuses, so he has to be restraned by Aranya. Somehow though he manages to escape ... but goes quite mad.

One year later: Waiting for their pilot Grant (Robert Knapp) to repair their airplane & fly them to their intended wedding in Mexico City, Doreen (Mary Hill) & Jan (Nico Lek) visit a little diner near the airport, where suddenly a quite mad man, Masterson in fact, makes friends with them. Soon his nurse George (George Barrows) comes by to fetch him (Masterson has escaped from the loonie bin 2 days ago), but then Masterson pulls a gun, & not only that, he shoots Tarantella (Tandra Quinn), the exotic dancer of the place (who is of course one of Aranya's insect girls).

Then Masterson forces Van to take him along on the flight, & soon everybody - Grant, Van & Doreen, George & George's servant Wu (Samuel Wu) - are on Grant's half repaired plane with him, when suddenly ...

a) Grant realizes someone has sabotaged his navigation, &

b) everybody notices the engine blowing up.

Grant can only just (crash)land the airplane on a mesa in the Mexican desert - Aranya's mesa of course, but they don't know that yet ... Aranya's insect women & dwarves lie in the waiting however, & soon one of the group, George, is stupid enough to go onto a little expedition on his own, & is immediately killed by an insect/woman/whatever.

This doesn't exactly calm the others down, as their fate - being stranded in the middle of the Mexican desert without food & only a bottle of brandy to drink - is bad enough as it is. Still, when Doreen mentions she ahs lost one of her combs, Jan sends Wu off on a little expedition on his own to find the damned thing.

... but Wu isn't exactly the best of friends either, since he has secretly been working for Aranya, luring the group - successfully - here for him. But now Aranya has no more use for Wu & has him killed too.

Then Aranya decides to close in on the others for real & has his women & insects attack them. Jan panics, takes off into the woods & is eaten by a giant tarantula, the others though are taken prisoner by Aranya ... which is when Masterson ghets back to his senses, grabs the next explosive in sight & threatens to blow Aranya, his giant insects, insect-women & himself to kingdom cvome, & he leaves Grant & Doreen just enough time to escape before he does, too ...

Ed Wood regulars Dolores Fuller & Mona McKinnon play insect women.


One of the truly greats of bad filmmaking: Nothing really seems to fit here, the productin values are low, the special effects are laughable, the direction is uninspired, the plot is as overused as it is illogical (& Lyle Talbot's out-of-this-world narration doesn't make it any better), the music (which was later reused in Ed Wood's Jail Bait), consisting mainly of flamenco guitars, seems out of place, & the acting ranges from wooden to weird (especially Harmon Stevens' performance as the scientist gone mad is ... strange) ... & yet the film is great entertainment, somehow all these (wrong) ingredients fall together in a way to turn this movie into an enjoyable experience (if for all the wrong reasons).


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD