Movie Review: Spider Labyrinth (1989) – Severin 4K/Blu-ray combo

April 6, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Professor Alan Whitmore (Roland Wybenga) is sent to Budapest by the cadre of totally not up to no-good folks that funded the top secret Intextus project (which involves the interconnection of all religions or some such jazz), to check on a colleague who has not turned in his data on time.

Said colleague appears to have gone completely insane, but it doesn’t matter much as he’s soon found hanging by his neck by spider webs… which turns a fact hunting trip into a murder investigation… a fucking real hum-dinger of one in fact…

The longer Whitmore stays in town, the more sinister things become with dire warnings being delivered left and right, near constant mood setting thunderstorms… oh yeah, and the continuing murders… that’s some truly sinister shit.

But all of that pales in comparison with the downright preternatural insanity that awaits as our hero continues the amateur sleuth biz! Will Whitmore solve the murderous, monstrous mystery, or will he remain ever stuck within the evil web into which he has blindly strolled?!

Coming from first (and last) time feature film Director Gianfranco Giagni, and writers Riccardo Aragno, Tonino Cervi, Cesare Frugoni, and Gianfranco Manfredi (working from a story by Cesare Frugoni), Spider Labyrinth is one mother fucker of a viewing experience (and I mean that in the most positive way imaginable)!

The film makes stunning use of it’s Budapest locations, which are often made to look almost completely deserted, and are equally often pierced by an ominous wind. It’s both beautiful and incredibly eerie all at once.

Additionally when you tack on some heavy Gothic strokes (plenty of bat-filled catacombs, opulent, shadow-filled buildings hiding dark secrets within their walls, plus that weather-based atmosphere mentioned previously), sprinkle with a lil’ of that ol’ Lovecraft glitter (the abandoned, ancient town, an evil religious cult), add some giallo-lite elements (mostly in tone and palette choices), and a big ol’ slather of that creature feature ghoulish goodness and you got one hell of a kick-ass supernatural shocker, that just may be the best Italian fright flick you have (probably… maybe) never seen!

An additional check in the awesome department is the use of some cool-as-hell stop motion animation for the spiders present in the film; which are large (do not read as “giant”), tarantula-like spiders that are featured in some sequences… as well as appearing in the film’s absolutely unhinged jaw-droppingly psychotronic finale that is definitely worth the price of admission on it’s own!

Seriously, if this release came with nothing but the main event I’d give it my highest possible recommendation… but, there are plenty of special features present in this 4K/Blu-ray combo release from our fiendish friends at Severin to sweeten the putrid pot even more!

First up comes an info and anecdote packed audio commentary from Dr. Will Dodson, Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies and Ryan Verril, host of the Disc Connected podcast that examines the film’s tone, themes, overall narrative and more.

Also included on Disc One (the 4K version of the film) is the picture’s trailer… then we get frisky and hop on over to Disc Two…

Disc Two contains a Blu-ray edition of the film (along with the previously mentioned commentary track and trailer), plus interviews with Director Giagni, Screenwriter Manfredi, Cinematographer Nino Celeste, Actress Paola Rinaldi, and Special Effects Artist Sergio Stivaletti… all of which provide a ton of in depth, first hand info about the film’s production!

Also included is a video essay examining Spider Labyrinth’s place in the pantheon of bizarre late ‘80s Italian horror.

Spider Labyrinth is a one-of-a-kind fever dream cinematic experience that is a hidden gem just waiting to be devoured by connoisseurs of the strange!


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