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Curse of the Black Widow

Curse of the Black Widow is a 1977 American made-for-television horror film directed by Dan Curtis and starring Anthony Franciosa, Donna Mills, Patty Duke, Vic Morrow and June Allyson. It originally aired on ABC on September 16, 1977 and was re-released in 1979 as Love Trap.

Curse of the Black Widow
GenreCrime
Horror
Mystery
Sci-Fi
Written byRobert Blees
Directed byDan Curtis
StarringAnthony Franciosa
Donna Mills
June Allyson
Vic Morrow
Music byBob Cobert
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Production
Executive producer(s)Dan Curtis
Producer(s)Steven North
Steven P. Reicher (associate producer)
Production location(s)Piru Mansion - 829 & 837 Park Road, Piru, California
CinematographyPaul Lohmann
Editor(s)Leon Carrere
Running time97 minutes
Production company(s)ABC
ABC Circle Films
Dan Curtis Productions
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • September 16, 1977 (1977-09-16)

PlotEdit

For the past four years, Los Angeles has been terrorized by a series of mysterious murders, in which several men have been found dead with huge puncture wounds in their chests. The latest happens when private detective Mark Higbie is visiting a bar. A dark-haired woman with a German accent needs help with her car, and one of Higbie's friends goes out to help her. The woman makes a pass at him, but is turned down. Minutes later, the man is found dead.

Mark does some digging, and finds out that Lieutenant Gully Conti, who is leading the investigation, knows who the culprit is, but is covering up details. He soon finds out why-all of the victims have had their bodily fluids sucked out of them, and the wounds are filled with spider venom. Each time, a mysterious woman named Valerie Steffan was in the area. Gully suspects that the twins, Leigh and Laura Lockwood, are somehow involved. Leigh hires Mark, concerned about the police focusing on her. It turns out that she dated all of the men who have died so far.

Mark eventually gets in touch with a former bartender who saw one of the murders, who tells him that at least one man was killed by a man-sized black widow spider. Checking further, he finds out that Leigh and Laura's father died in a plane crash several years ago, and one of the girls was nearly bitten to death by spiders. Mark finds out that the plane landed in an old vineyard owned by the Lockwoods, and meets the aging Indian who found the girls. The Indian says that according to an old legend, some women are affected by an ancient curse passed through the female line. During the full moon, these women turn into giant spiders in times of stress, kill their victims, encase them in webbing and feed on them. These women have a red hourglass-shaped birthmark on their abdomens, similar to those found on black widow spiders. They are practically indestructible in spider form; the only thing that can kill them is fire. The twin who was bitten by the spiders is the one affected with the curse.

Mark calls Laura and finds out Leigh is on her way. Laura tells him that Leigh is the one who was bitten, and Mark tells her to get out as fast as she can. As Laura is in the midst of packing, she suddenly has violent convulsions and visions of two of the men who died. It turns out that Laura is really the killer. She has long suffered from multiple personality disorder; Valerie is the expression of her feelings of inadequacy compared to Leigh. Valerie is also the only one who knows how to use Laura's curse. It turns out that Valerie has made several advances toward Leigh's boyfriends; when they turn her down, she turns into a spider and kills them. The only other people who know the secret are their mother, and their former nanny, Olga. Their mother has been in a catatonic state since seeing Valerie kill Leigh's fiancé.

Leigh arrives and finds her mother in a panic. Suddenly, Valerie walks in, taunts Leigh and her mother by telling her about the things Laura never had the courage to say to Leigh. She also talks about how Leigh stole Laura's boyfriend, Gianni. She explains that Laura tried to win him back by being sexy and coming on to him, clumsily she admits, and unfortunately Gianni ended up raping Laura and getting her pregnant. This caused Valerie to retaliate and kill Gianni, which was what their mother witnessed; she was babbling about Laura killing an Italian boy when Leigh found her, and it made her go crazy. Laura then turns into a spider. Horrified, their mother falls out of the window to her death. Valerie encases Leigh in webbing. Olga arrives minutes later and realizes Laura has to die. She goes to an old farmhouse to find Laura cowering on a stall. Laura admits that Valerie killed their mother, and hurt Leigh as well. As Olga pulls out a pistol, Valerie takes over, turns into a spider and kills Olga.

Mark finds the place deserted and goes to the farmhouse. He finds Leigh alive, but terrified. Just then, Valerie arrives in spider form. Mark empties his pistol into her, to no avail. He hurls a lantern at Valerie, and she catches fire. Leigh and Mark escape, while Valerie sets the farmhouse ablaze as she thrashes about on fire. The farmhouse burns to the ground and the police consider the ordeal to be over.

Sometime later, Mark is at Leigh's beach house for dinner, while Jennifer is shown playing on the beach with her dog. Leigh explains that Jennifer is adjusting to living with her, though she still has occasional nightmares, but with diminishing frequency. She has returned to school and is making new friends. She tells Mark that although Jennifer does not really look like her, sometimes she reminds her of Laura. Jennifer asks to go for one more swim before dinner, at which time she turns and waves to Mark and Leigh on the balcony, revealing a red hourglass-shaped birthmark on her abdomen, the same one that Laura had, indicating that Laura was her mother and that she has inherited the "curse of the black widow".

CastEdit

ReceptionEdit

Terror Trap awarded the film 3/4 stars, writing, "What feels at times like an episode of Night Stalker (no doubt because of Dan Curtis) is actually a creepy crawly groovy TV monster movie."[1] Allmovie's Cavett Binion called it "[a] wonderfully cheesy TV movie-of-the-week".[2] Andrew Pragasam from The Spinning Image awarded the film 5/10 stars, writing, "Curse of the Black Widow opts for a familiar combination of melodrama and gothic horror lifted from the tried and true formula of Dark Shadows mixed with the hard-boiled sleuthing of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Alas, the drama is daytime soap opera silly while Franciosa's smarmy detective is not as compelling a character as Carl Kolchak. As a result the core concept comes across as just plain ridiculous. A stumbling narrative drags out what is actually a fairly slight story with far too many time-outs for pointless walks on the beach, drinks over disco or in one instance a scene designed solely for Curtis to show-off his cute little daughter Tracy Curtis' prowess as a child gymnast. Despite Curtis' customary solid production values this is less atmospheric than many scary Seventies TV films."[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Curse of the Black Widow (1977)". Terror Trap.com. Terror Trap. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  2. ^ Binion, Cavett. "Curse of the Black Widow (1977) - Dan Curtis". Allmovie.com. Cavett Binion. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  3. ^ Pragasm, Andrew. "Curse of the Black Widow review (1977)". Spinning Image.co.uk. Andrew Pragasm. Retrieved 16 June 2018.

External linksEdit