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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Arthur Lubin
USA 1946

 

Gale Sondergaard (The Cat and the Canary, The Mark of Zorro) returns as the sinister Spider Woman, a role she originated as the femme fatale Adrea Spedding in the Sherlock Holmes whodunit The Spider Woman. In this non-canonical spin-off, she is even more diabolical as Zenobia Dollard, a wealthy blind woman shrouded in mystery. Jean (Brenda Joyce, Jane in several Tarzan films) is hired as Zenobia’s caretaker after all the preceding caretakers vanish without a trace. She becomes entangled in a web of horror as she discovers that her employer, aided by a hideously deformed household servant played by legendary creeper Rondo Hatton (The Jungle Captive, Hollywood Horror House), has used the blood of her predecessors to create a death serum when it is mixed with spider venom—and that her own blood is now being harvested at night, while she is in a drugged sleep, to continue the experiment. Veteran director Arthur Lubin (Phantom of the Opera, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves) delivers a terrifying tale chock-full of bizarre blood-drinking plants, old-dark-house spookiness and the wickedness of the Spider Woman!

***

A young girl goes to work as a live-in caretaker for a spooky old woman. She doesn't know that every night, the woman drains some blood from her to feed her strange plant.

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 22nd, 1946

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Review: Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 0:59:16.135        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,368,108,621 bytes

Feature: 19,208,448,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 38.56 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1993 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1993 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,368,108,621 bytes

Feature: 19,208,448,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 38.56 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter
MISTRESS OF MENACE AND MURDER: MAKING THE SPIDER WOMAN STRIKES BACK - A NEW Documentary Short Featuring Interviews with Historian/Author C. Courtney Joyner, Make-Up Effects Artist Rick Baker, Filmmaker Fred Olen Ray and More (10:10)
Theatrical Trailer (1:15)


Blu-ray Release Date:
November 2nd, 2021
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 9

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (October 2021): Kino have transferred Arthur Lubin's The Spider Woman Strikes Back to Blu-ray. It is cited as being from a "Brand New 2K Master". While having a few pleasing outdoor visual scenes, the overall image is imperfect with softness that is probably inherent in the source. Contrast is not premium looking like the print density has faded. There are speckles and small marks, but nothing too distracting. This is likely as strong replication of the film's theatrical viewing presentation.

NOTE: We have added 50 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a DTS-HD Master dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. The Spider Woman Strikes Back has few aggressive moments beyond a raging fire, but an appealing, atmosphere-inducing, score by Milton Rosen (Jack Arnold's 3-D The Glass Web, serials like Junior G-Men of the Air or Jungle Queen) or, as David Schecter tells us in the commentary; Hans J. Salter (Man Without a Star, The Killer that Stalked New York, The Strange Door, Cover Up, Man Without a Star, Scarlet Street, The Land Unknown, The War Lord, The Mole People, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx) and briefly utilized music by Frank Skinner (The Appaloosa, Madame X, Magnificent Obsession, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, Thunder Bay, and The Naked City) taken from Son of Frankenstein. sounding clean with consistent dialogue in the lossless transfer. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray offers a new commentary by Tom Weaver and 10-minutes on the music by David Schecter. Tom makes light of this 'B' horror with humorous comments and a reenactment of a scene not used in the film - but partially in the trailer. he has the script, typed on VE Day. He discusses the careers of Gale Sondergaard (her blacklisting - the actor portrayed by Greta Scacchi in 2000's One of the Hollywood Ten), Brenda Joyce (her Tarzan work), Rondo Hatton (who died 100+ days after making The Spider Woman Strikes Back) and others including director Lubin, minutia on the car in the film etc.. We also get a new, 10-minute, documentary; Mistress of Menace and Murder: Making The Spider Woman Strikes Back featuring interviews with C. Courtney Joyner, make-up effects artist Rick Baker, filmmaker Fred Olen Ray, historian Bob Burns and others discussing The Spider Woman Strikes Back, Arthur Lubin, what was going on at Universal at the time of production - lesser budgets - and how the studio was pulling away from these type of productions shifting their focus away from these horrors - hence investing lower budgets. There is also a theatrical trailer.    

Arthur Lubin's The Spider Woman Strikes Back has weaknesses, but also strong nostalgic appeal. Classic villainess Gale Sondergaard, 'girl-next-door' victim Brenda Joyce, and eerily misshapen Rondo Hatton are all superb if not fully utilized. The, hour-long, running time could have been expanded, fleshing out relationships and details that would have benefited embracing The Spider Woman Strikes Back to a higher degree. Still, the plot, delightful poster (and cover art), plus the alluring title are enticing if the production was not at the same level as the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Spider Woman (in The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection on Blu-ray reviewed HERE.) The Kino Blu-ray would make for the enjoyable start of a decent double-feature night with another Universal horror like Night Key or Night Monster. Personally I could watch The Spider Woman Strikes Back anytime and the commentary and documentary give it further value. Recommended to fans of these delightfully imperfect, small-town locales, vintage horrors.  

Gary Tooze

 


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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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