Black Mesa of Lost Women is a black and white science-fiction film, released on June 17, 1953 (as Lost Women). It is available on DVD, with a theatrical trailer. Wade Williams describes it on the DVD case as a "must-see for fans of the bizarre and unexplainable". It was in a 2004 documentary, The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. It won the award of "Most Primitive Male Chauvinist Fantasy" in the book Son of Golden Turkey Awards.
The movie is criticized for its acting, notably that of Coogan, and Harmon Stevens, who plays Dr. Masterson. The plot is far from straightforward. The loud and repetitive musical score by Hoyt S. Curtin, melding flamenco guitar and piano, is seen as maddening or oppositely "very able, a sustained inspiration" The music used in the movie was also used by Ed Wood Jr. in his movie Jailbait.
The advertising is not unlike that of the sensationalist Prehistoric Women and Wild Women films.
Role of Tevos — Herbert Tevos is credited for the screenplay. He is not credited for any other work. Tevos is said to have started filming a project for Howco Productions tentatively entitled "Tarantula", doing the directing. It has been said that the project was halted because Tevos was too difficult to work with, though there is scant evidence. Howco later had director Ron Ormond pick up the project, adding footage to finish the project. It's been said that the Dr. Aranya footage is what Ormond added, though this is difficult to confirm. Aranya is so pivotal to the plot, that he must have been in the original screenplay and not invented later. Tevos had an artistic vision, but perhaps was too inexperienced to get that vision onto film. Ormond didn't help much, but the project may have been too far along, or too little budgeted to fix.
Missing Heat — The promotional posters imply salacious elements the movie does not contain. This may be, in part, original plot elements that were edited out or not completed. What may be a surviving trace of this is the cantina scene. The cantina folk seem to calmly accept Tarantella's bizarre dance. Perhaps in the original conception she danced to lure men to Zarpa for Aranya experiments.
Good vs. Evil — Tarantella is Aranya's sensual creation. The other spider women are stoic. She represents the dark, animal, female side. Masterson, in his drug-induced derangement, proclaims Tarantella to be evil. He quotes from the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:33) about the death of evil queen Jezebel. Masterson also pronounces Doreen to be "good." Doreen, with shorter blond hair and modest suit dress, represents the virtuous woman. Aranya himself represents the dark side of science, while Masterson represents the moral and heroic side.
Tarantella is different from the other spider women. She is like Dr. Moreau's panther woman — a special project, pushing the envelope of the essence of womanliness. In a Shakespearean twist, Tarantella develops feelings for Masterson. How else to explain her being miles from Zarpa, in the town Masterson was hospitalized? Her sensual spider dance for him in the cantina seemed a response to Masterson fawning over Doreen. Masterson's ultimate rejection is a deeper analogy of civilization-morality confronting animality.
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