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The Spider Woman Strikes Back

USA 1946
produced by
Howard Welsch for Universal
directed by Arthur Lubin
starring Gale Sondergaard, Brenda Joyce, Kirby Grant, Milburn Stone, Rondo Hatton, Hobart Cavanaugh, Norman Leavitt, William Sundholm, Guy Wilkerson, Guy Beach, Hans Herbert, Horace Murphy
written by Eric Taylor, music by Milton Rosen

Universal Horror Cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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To get away from the hectic big city, Jean (Brenda Joyce) has accepted a job as companion of blind Miss Zenobia Dollard (Gale Sondergaard) in a sleepy cattle town somewhere out west. But even though Zenobia couldn't be nicer and she's well-respected in town, it isn't long before Jean starts to feel a certain unease - and maybe it's Zenobia's gloomy house, maybe her creepy mute servant (Rondo Hatton), maybe the fact that Zenobia is always evasive when she inquites about her predecessor, but something doesn't add up. And why does she oversleep every day all of a sudden.

Meanwhile in town, cattle dies from poisonous weed, even if there is no poisonous weed in the area. Since most locals are cattle ranchers, a slight panic breaks out before too long, which is why rancher Hal (Kirby Grant) - incidently Jean's ex who's still in love with her - calls on the department for agricultural affairs for assistance, and they soon send investigator Moore (Milburn Stone) down.

Now how are these two stories connected?

Well, Zenobia has Jean drugged every night, then takes some of her blood to feed it to her flesh-eating plant, together with some spiders, and from the plant she extracts poison for the cattle. Oh, and of course she's actually not blind in the least.

Jean eventually tells Hal she thinks there's something wrong with Zenobia, and he and Moore decide to stop by, suspecting not her but her creepy butler ... but by that time, Jean has found out more about Zenobia's wrongdoings and is thus locked up in the basement - and when Zenobia then tells Hal Jean has left for San Francisco without saying good bye, he grows suspicious ... and Zenobia and her butler immediately panic and burn down the place, dying in the process, while it's up to Hal to save Jean in the nick of time.

But why did Zenobia do it? Well, once her family owned all the land in the area, but then one of her relatives lost it gambling ... and by poisoning the cattle, Zenobia has hoped to drive away all the ranchers and buy back their land at bargan prices ...


The title suggests this being a sequel to the Sherlock Holmes movie The Spider Woman - but despite both movies sharing Gale Sondergaard playing the villainess, her characters in these two movies have nothing in common, and likewise, Rondo Hatton from the Sherlock Holmes film The Pearl of Death plays a very different character in this one, which isn't even a murder mystery but more of a horror film.

In all, The Spider Woman Strikes Back is a definitely less than perfect film: While it's quite ok in the atmosphere department, the story's a bit too far-fetched and does show a few too many plotholes or leaps of reason, plus it's doing at best ok in the suspense department. True, Universal has put out way worse horror films than this one, but that hardly makes this one really good.


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