Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fly (1958)


The Fly (1958)
Dir. Kurt Neumann
Written by James Clavell based on the short story by George Langelaan
Starring Al Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price



THE FLY is one of those 1950s mad science / giant insect (spoiler?) films which we think about primarily in conjunction with Mystery Science Theater 3000. Which is to say, we think of them as comically antiquated, silly camp, if we even think about them at all. We have some hazy vision of stilted dialogue and clumsy rubber monster suits and cartoonishly square honkie scientists, and that’s about it. But THE FLY isn’t just a 1950s mad science / giant insect film. It’s also the 1950s mad science / giant insect film; the one which has emerged from the pack over the years to not simply be remembered, but to embody the very concept of this type of film. Writer Chuck Klosterman gained some attention recently for his theory which states, “As the timeline moves forward, tangential artists in any field fade from the collective radar, until only one person [or, in this case, work of art] remains; the significance of that individual is then exaggerated, until the genre and the person become interchangeable.” He used this to imagine a future where the musical genre “rock and roll” has faded completely from popular culture and is only remembered as a historical movement through the lens of one individual performer who consequently must represent the totality of the artform (he debated between Elvis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan, before ultimately settling on the correct choice, Chuck Berry). If John Philip Sousa is the embodiment of marching band music, Beethoven is the embodiment of Classical Music, and Berry will someday embody rock and roll, THE FLY is the embodiment of that particular breed of horror which in itself defines, to some extent, the genre cinema of the 1950s. Only perhaps THEM! offers it any serious competition for that honor.

THE FLY, then, is a movie that you encounter, and feel like you know, long before you ever actually watch it. Like the “twist” ending to PLANET OF THE APES --which is probably the one thing which is most known about that movie, even (and perhaps especially) by people who have never seen it-- you probably already know, at least in broad strokes, the big shock moments of THE FLY. I’ve seen most of the iconic scenes parodied or referenced in everything from The Simpsons (in their classic “Treehouse of Horror” segment Fly vs Fly) to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which features a minor character who actually has an origin story very similar to the one seen in the movie) to BEETLEJUICE (Michael Keaton quotes the title character’s final moments) to Phineas and Ferb (a teleportation accident involving mixed-up fly parts). And then of course, there’s David Cronenberg’s 1986 loose remake of the same title, which is possibly even more famous than the original, at least in the circles in which I run. Howard Shore wrote a fucking opera version of the story in 2008. That’s about peak cultural saturation.



And yet, somehow THE FLY still wasn’t quite what I expected. Not entirely, anyway. I mean, on one hand, it is entirely, almost quintessentially a 1950’s mad science film. You’d be hard pressed to find a single 30 second sequence which could not be immediately identified as a 1950’s mad science film even completely isolated from any other context. The cinematography is of the stagey, candy-coated technicolor school, full of lush, warm lighting and pristine theatrical sets which seem to owe their genesis more to the imagination of Norman Rockwell than anything which ever existed in the real world. The acting is of that theatrical, pre-method-acting variety, with broad, uncomplicated performances which could play to the back rows of a stage theater quite comfortably. The dialogue is no more naturalistic, full of turgid, purple philosophical monologues and earnest declarative proclamations (“It would be funny, if life weren’t so sacred,” emphasizes a forlorn scientist after mistakenly sending a kitten to another dimension). And the movie has that unmistakably 1950s desire to ensure that the characters are all morally upright to the point of being positively saccharine. No moral ambiguity here, no complicated motivations.

But on the other hand, just like THEM!, THE FLY turns out to be rather darker and more affecting than you’d have any reason to expect going in. I love 1950’s horror cinema, but I can’t imagine even the most sensitive soul feeling particularly horrified by THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS or IT… THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. I doubt even their creators imagined they would disturb and unnerve. They were matinee drive-in fluff for kiddies, full of rubbery special effects, precocious child and silly featherweight melodrama. But THE FLY turns out to be a little more twisted than its brethren. In fact, David Cronenberg's “reimagining” of the film as a body-horror nightmare isn’t as radical a departure from the original as I had assumed. While not as fascinated as Cronenberg was by the messily dysmorphic transmutation of flesh, it’s definitely interested in shocking and disturbing its audience, and in doing so, successfully manages to find an unexpected vein of the grotesque running through the corny 1950’s suburban modernist milieu.



It is the story, of course, of Dr. Andre Delambre (David “Al” Hedison*, most recognizable for playing Felix Leiter in LIVE AND LET DIE and LICENSE TO KILL), a Montreal scientist who is discovered in the film’s opening with his head and arm crushed beyond recognition in a hydraulic press. We don’t see the messy results, but hot damn, that’s a pretty hardcore death to start a movie with in 1958. His wife, Helene (SAYONARA, a multiple-Oscar-winning Marlon Brando-starring 1957 anti-racism movie that I’ve literally never heard of before today***), denies any involvement in his death, but begins behaving extremely strangely, becoming obsessed with flies and unable to discuss what happened. Eventually, Delambre’s kindly brother Francois (Vincent Price, 1975’s “conceptual TV special” Alice Cooper: The Nightmare) shows up and tricks her into telling the sordid tale that lead to Delambre’s untimely (and squishy) demise.

Seems that once upon a time, Delambre was an apparently non-mad scientist laboring to build a matter transporter in his basement (admittedly, that description makes him sound quite mad indeed, but he seems pretty well adjusted. Also arguably  this would actually make him a non-mad engineer, since he’s actually trying to build a device, not test a hypothesis, but let us not muddle the case with needless semantics). He’s a loving husband, but he’s really, really into his work and misses some meals and stuff, which mildly irritates his wife and lets us know that his tragic flaw is that he cares more about making a history-altering scientific discovery than his wife’s home cooking, which in the movie’s opinion means that it’s tragic but inevitable that he’ll eventually have his head crushed by a hydraulic press. I don’t need to tell you what goes wrong, because you already know. One day Helene ventures into the basement to find her husband unexpectedly silent, and hiding his head under a cloth of mystery while scrawling frantic messages to her with the hand he’s not suspiciously holding behind his back. Uh oh.



In one sense, this is a movie conceit which is ludicrous in the extreme -- he ends up with a giant fly head (but his own brain?) and must try and locate the pesky insect which has stolen his own human noggin. I mean, that’s downright kooky, it barely even supports parody it’s so outrageous (the Simpsons episode which references the movie actually doesn’t do anything more ridiculous with the concept than its source material does). If you start asking questions about how, exactly, this works, it quickly becomes clear that it’s utter nonsense. So hard sci-fi it ain’t, but somehow the movie doesn’t come off as comical as it really ought to, by all reasonable standards.

Part of this, I think, is the gruesome opening -- we know this is going to end really, really badly, so there’s an element of inevitability and tragedy here, combined with the engrossing mystery of how our nice scientist ended up at such a desperate point. Part is also the simple but effective imagery, from Delambre’s disconcerting silent, masked form to the elaborate animatronic fly mask and arm, which are utterly absurd, of course, but also detailed and realistic enough to be appreciably repellent. Still, for my money, the biggest reason THE FLY manages to pull off the impossible and become a genuinely unnerving 1950’s sci-fi schlock pic has to do with the existential randomness of it all. Delambre really is a pretty nice guy with a lovely, supportive wife and a genuinely inspired scientific breakthrough. He isn’t some callus Dr. Frankenstein who let his hubris overcome his humanity, he doesn’t even make some crucial misjudgment. There’s just one tiny, random complication he didn’t consider or plan for. In every other parallel universe, this experiment probably went off without a hitch and the guy went on to become the most famous and important human of the century. And yet, in this universe, he’s going to be transformed into a disfigured monster and eventually smashed to death by heavy machinery, which will be, by that point, a blessing. It’s such a terribly cruel and blatantly unfair turn of events that you can’t help but be a little affected by it. In fact, it’s perhaps even more salient today than it would have been in its own time, because of our (completely unwarranted) sense of nostalgia for this “simpler time,” which is presented with exactly the corny, sentimental treacle we expect of it, until it’s suddenly shattered by this bizarre and grotesque intrusion of random fate.

It’s traditional when discussing 1950s horror movies to blather on and on about the sense of fatalism brought on by the apparently imminent nuclear holocaust, which hovered over everything throughout the cold war but was perhaps especially anxiety-ridden in the decade immediately following the Second World War. You could, if you were so inclined, make that case for this movie -- the film’s teleportation experiment, though not explicitly related to the atomic age,*** could be seen as a metaphor for the new era of science powerful enough that a single mistake could have catastrophic and unforeseen consequences. You could even argue, perhaps --just perhaps, and especially since this was based on a French short story-- that maybe poor Dr. Andre Delambre might be a symbol for the post-war modernist ideals, forging forward with good intentions but an irresponsible naivete for how those ideals and their resulting knowledge might unexpectedly transform them into dangerous monsters. There might even be a little autobiographical allusion, strangely enough; short story author George Langelaan actually underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance and make him a more effective spy for the Allies during WWII. Did he, like the protagonist here, find his own face suddenly transformed into something alien and unnerving?




Mostly, though, I don’t think a movie like THE FLY is meant to be read symbolically. It’s a film which is meant to shock and fascinate, and that’s what it does. From its startling, mysterious opening to its big special-effects reveal to its surreal, grotesque ending, it’s a movie which magnificently threads the line between campy delights and grim body horror. The cast is solid: Owens is absolutely radiant as the doomed scientist’s wife, and has the acting chops to be convincing as both a stereotypical homemaker and a mentally shattered trauma survivor, effectively holding the entire movie together. Hedison is sympathetic as the title character (even though we don’t see much of him after his big transformation, that's him under the mask, not a double) and what the heck, we might as well enjoy Vincent Price in a rare nice guy role.**** It’s not the best use of the big fella, but his overpowering screen charisma is as intoxicating as ever, and he's effortlessly endearing. Director Kurt Neumann (a stalwart B-movie workhorse who had directed nearly 30 movies since 1933, and tragically died a few days after THE FLY’s premier, reportedly weakened by his exhausting work on it) lets the plot flag a little as the backstory begins, and needlessly lets it drag on for ten minutes after the obvious finale, but no matter. It’s a strange and affecting experience not quite like anything else.

Which leaves me with only one complaint, and one which will be rather predictable to those of you who know my usual stance on these mad science pics: Why the fuck does Delambrefly have to go and smash up his lab and burn his notes?! I think the prospect of instant teleportation would be valuable enough to endure a few setbacks. I know he doesn’t want anyone else to get mutated, but all you have to do is keep the flies out of the transportation tube! Hell, install an air curtain and you've fucking changed the course of history! The concept was sound, I say, SOUND!

Anyway, other than that, THE FLY is great. If the 1950’s mad science / monster craze has to be defined by just one film, you could hardly pick a better one -- it brings everything you’d expect from the era and genre, but also a little more. I don’t know if it is, as Vincent Price describes in the trailer, “far beyond anything your mind could conceive,” but it’s also not quite what you probably assume.

************

*Fun fact: his daughter, Alexandra Hedison, is married to Jody Foster. Incidentally, I can’t exactly recall the pronunciation of the Doctor’s name, but writing out “Andre Delambre” makes it look like it rhymes, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. It’s French in the original short story (Canadian here) so it’s anyone’s guess what it should actually sound like.

**Not-so-fun fact: Ricardo Montalban plays a Japanese character.

***Although one of the posters claims the film is about “The Monster Created By Atoms Gone Wild!” they must mean that it’s literally composed of carbon atoms, because unless I missed it there’s no talk of atomic energy here.

****Ironically, the huge success of THE FLY --one of the few famous roles where Price plays a completely nice guy-- seems to have been the deciding factor into making him a fixture of the horror genre, and one of the screen’s most legendary villains. He’d done HOUSE OF WAX in 1953, and THE MAD MAGICIAN in 1954, but was only a sporadic genre actor until THE FLY, from which point he began appearing almost exclusively in horror films. Or at least, that’s the way writer Richard Harlan Smith tells the story.

Woah now, let's not overreact.

CHAINSAWNUKAH 2016 CHECKLIST!
Good Kill Hunting

TAGLINE
  • Horror Of The Winged Menace !
  • She had to kill the thing her husband had become -- But could she?
  • Once it was human... even as you and I!
  • The monster created by atoms gone wild
  • The fly with the head of a man...! And the man with the head of a fly!
  • It's the terror-topper first introduced to the public in "Playboy" Magazine!
  • 100$ if you prove it can't happen!
  • For your own good we urge you not to see it alone!
TITLE ACCURACY
Totally accurate
LITERARY ADAPTATION?
Yes, from George Langelaan’s short story. Which, incidentally, was first published in Playboy magazine, if you were confused by that 6th tagline.
SEQUEL?
Two sequels, RETURN OF THE FLY in 1959, and CURSE OF THE FLY in 1965
REMAKE?
Yes, Cronenberg’s 1986 remake starring Jeff Goldbum, which also had its own sequel (THE FLY II) in 1989.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Filmed in Canada, but made by an American studio
HORROR SUB-GENRE
Mad Science / Killer Bugs! / Transmutation
SLUMMING A-LISTER?
Well, Patricia Owens had been in an oscar-winning prestige pic with Marlon Brando the previous year.
BELOVED HORROR ICON?
Vincent Price
NUDITY?
None, unless you count flys.
SEXUAL ASSAULT?
No
WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK!
Yes, in the final’s equal parts hilarious / disturbing last twist
GHOST/ ZOMBIE / HAUNTED BUILDING?
No
POSSESSION?
Yes, of a sort
CREEPY DOLLS?
No
EVIL CULT?
No
MADNESS?
Yes, Mrs. Delambre seems to crack up a bit after the horror
TRANSMOGRIFICATION?
Abso-Lutely
VOYEURISM?
Nah
MORAL OF THE STORY
Look, just fucking stop trying to make scientific breakthroughs, OK? It can only end in tears.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Black Belly of the Tarantula



Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971) aka La tarantola dal ventre nero
Dir Paolo Cavara
Written by Marcello Danon, Lucile Laks
Starring Giancarlo Giannini, Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet, Rossella Falk


The murder method is always the same. A mystery assailant, clad entirely in black and sporting latex gloves to conceal fingerprints, accosts the victims and injects them in the spine with a rare wasp venom which paralyzes them --but does not anesthetize or render unconscious-- before viciously gutting them with a knife. The victims? Young, beautiful, and nearly always naked women, many of them former or future Bond girls (including Barbara Bouchet of CASINO ROYALE [the 1967 one with Woody Allen], Claudine Auger of THUNDERBALL and Barbara Bach of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME). The scene? Rome, Italy, 1971. But the motive? That’s a little more obscure. Is it the jealous anger spurred by an affair between a sleazy businessman and the first victim? Is it related to a bizarre drug smuggling operation disguised as an exotic insect importer? Is it somehow related to a culty New Age beauty spa where several of the victims worked? Or does it have something to do with the fact that everyone is blackmailing everyone and there’s a mystery perv videotaping people boning through their open windows? Or, is none of that stuff going to be important and instead the solution will be dumped on us by a new character all at once right at the end, with no previous context or clues whatsoever? I’ll, uh, never tell.


In a lot of ways, THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is almost an archetypical giallo. It’s got a quintessential giallo villain in its gloved and black-masked killer motivated by a psycho-sexual frenzy and sporting an elaborate murder gimmick. It’s got a harem of beautiful young women in frequent states of undress as victims. It’s got a plot rife with voyeurism and paranoia and sleazy sex. And it’s got a solid 31 gallon barrel of heavily salted, densely packed pickled red herrings. Add to that a jazzy, samba-flecked score by Ennio Morricone and some delightfully tacky dated 70’s fashion, and you’ve got something very near the platonic ideal of a giallo. It even follows in the tradition of a titular references to an animal!




But calling any giallo “archetypal” is never the same as calling it “generic.” Giallos live in the open spaces between the rigid genre structure, where they can freely improvise weird murders and kinky sex and surreal style free of the burden of logical narrative or tiresome character arcs. So almost immediately, we’re introduced to a completely bizarre situation which everyone seems to pretend makes perfect sense. Our protagonist here is Inspector Tellini (Giancarlo Gianni, another eventual Bond co-star, in his case CASINO ROYALE (2006) and QUANTUM OF SOLACE), a burned-out police detective with an unfortunate mustache and a free-spirited wife (Stefania Sandrelli, who had already been in good movies like THE CONFORMIST and DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE and stuff, and really probably deserved better than this). He arrives home to discover that his apartment is completely empty. Why? His wife has sold all his furniture while he was at work.


Instead of treating this as the work of a completely unhinged psychotic, he seems to good-naturedly assume this is just what the kids are doing these days. “Maybe old furniture should be sold.” he says, resignedly. I consider myself both a strong feminist and a reasonable man, but if my domestic partner ever sold every single piece of furniture in my apartment without my knowledge or consent while I was at work, there better be a god damn mountain of heroin when I get home, because otherwise there’s just no excuse for this behavior.


But the world of THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is not our world, and its people are guided by obscure logics which we could never understand. So there’s also a delightful subplot about drug smugglers who disguise exotic powders as sand in the bottom of terrariums for poisonous tarantulas, correctly anticipating that customs agents would be skittish about sticking their hands in to check. It’s both kind of brilliant and completely insane, which is exactly how I want my giallos. I bet their in-country distributors wish they’d find a different method, but at least the bugs are probably high as hell and having a good time.




But ah, you don’t want to know about bugs and furniture, you want to know about the murders. Alas, the kills themselves are nothing too exciting, because despite the exotic methodology, how interesting is it to just watch the killer disembowel motionless victims? It’s a good gimmick in theory, but doesn’t really turn out to be very cinematic, unless you’re purely in it for the gore (which is plentiful but not extravagant). It’s pretty sadistic, though, which would probably mean more if we ended up with a better portrait of the killer or a more satisfying climax, but is still potent enough to keep you interested, particularly when our hero’s furniture-flipping wife ends up in danger. She definitely deserves some comeuppance from that fiasco, but not being paralyzed and then viciously disemboweled while still alive. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that no one deserves that fate who hasn’t written an article with the words “Number 6 Will Really Surprise You!” in the title.


Anyway, the kills are solid if not exactly all-time classics, and if you don’t go for the gore they’ve still got plenty of nudity to keep you hooked. But the scariest sequence in the film feels like something from a poliziotteschi more than a giallo; it finds our hero pursuing some miscreant in a daring high-rise edge-of-rooftop chase scene which was obviously done for real. It looks very, very unsafe. Normally when you see something like that you have to assume movie magic, that it’s actually much more carefully controlled than it looks. But this was Italy in 1971, and I assume a single-digit death toll was probably considered unfortunate but acceptable for most major film productions. If you harbor any lingering fear of falling from high places, this might be a rare giallo which actually gets your pulse pounding for reasons that don’t have to do with breasts.




In fact, for a film which is just bursting at the seams with classic giallo tropes, there’s more poliziotteschi in there than you might imagine. It’s unusual for a giallo to feature a law enforcement officer of any kind as the main character, or even a male lead, for that matter. It’s not completely unheard of, of course, but gialli typically traffic in civilian female protagonists. That unusual framing is of particular note because this is one of the few gialli with a female screenwriter --or co-writer anyway-- in Lucile Laks, who wrote a handful of other films in the 70s, but no other horror pictures. Since she co-wrote the script with Marcello Danon (Egad! His only other screenplays are… LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and its sequels, of all fool things! What the hell’s going on here?!) it’s hard to know who was responsible for what, but there’s no getting around the fact that for all the bedrock-basic giallo staples, the story structure and protagonist are rather unusually for the genre. (IMDB gives Laks sole credit for the screenplay and Danon credit for the story, for what it’s worth. I can’t recall the on-screen attributions).


If it’s rare to put a male cop at the center of this type of story, it’s even rarer for a giallo to spend so much time exploring the off-duty life of such a person. A surprising amount of screen time here goes into the weird, goofy relationship between this Steve-Zahn-looking motherfucker and his ditzy girlfriend. They’re a little more endearing than your average giallo protagonist, I suppose, but it’s still a strange decision. And this is certainly the only Italian cop film I’ve ever seen where our hero is constantly complaining that this is taking a terrible psychological toll on him, and insisting that he just wants to quit the force altogether. In real life this would be a perfectly understandable impulse, but this is emphatically not in any way related to real life, so trying to turn it into a psychodrama about emotional burnout from too much personal investment in the suffering of murder victims is a pretty baffling direction to go, for a movie which is also about a New Age nude spa and a criminal ring of tarantula smugglers.

That's some solid 70's, right there.

In fact, the movie’s sole achilles heel seems to be its inability to resist completely inappropriate psychoanalyzing. This is a particular problem for the ending, which SPOILERS, SPOILERS tries to get the drop on our predictions about the identity of the killer by having it turn out to be… just some random guy who hasn’t figured into the plot at all. Haha, very clever, BBotT, but wait, what? Was he working for the blackmailers or something? Nope, it seems that literally the entire movie is a red herring, inasmuch as it turns out that nothing we saw had anything to do with why the murders were happening. Another new character turns up to explain that the actual killer did it because of his unhappy home life, which we’ve never seen and will never see. It’s like the infamous psychiatrist exposition dump from the end of PSYCHO, if Norman Bates was just a minor character in one scene beforehand and the whole movie up to that point was about the stolen money. It’s ballsy, I’ll give it that, and there’s a kind of gleeful ridiculousness to capping off a ridiculously convoluted plot with a total non-sequitur, but satisfying it ain’t. END SPOILERS


I’ve also written in my notes, “Don’t forget the catapult!”


I’m honestly not sure why.


Anyway, bottom line: With its masked, gloved killer, occasional POV shots, animal metaphor, near-constant nudity, 1970’s kitsch classics and Morricone score, it’s too pristine a specimen of the giallo in its glorious heyday to fail to delight committed lovers thereof. Though not as boldly stylish as the best of that breed, and diluted slightly with some convoluted poliziotteschi cop movie nonsense, it’s consistently daffy enough to be entertaining, and generously packed with all the exploitative genre goodies one could want. And while the sunny, jazzy Morricone score is hardly the stuff of nightmares, at least gives it a unique feel.


That uniqueness is just as important to a classic giallo as its rigid adherence to the defining structures of the genre. Director Paolo Cavara knew a thing or two about uniqueness, having, with co-directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, essentially created a new genre of film with his gonzo documentary MONDO CANE a decade earlier. MONDO CANE took real-world footage and wove it into a surreal, exploitative acid trip of a movie, so it’s no surprise that with the freedom afforded by pure fiction, the film wastes no time in leaping headlong into total nuttiness and free-form narrative acid jazz. Which makes BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA something of the best of both worlds: on one hand, it’s a movie with a near perfect encapsulation of the distinct icons of the giallo, but on the other hand, nested comfortably within that solid genre structure is a whole lot of entertaining strangeness which gives the work its own unique character. Like sneaking drugs into the country in a tarantula cage, this has exactly the right mix of pragmatism and insanity.   





CHAINSAWNUKAH 2016 CHECKLIST!
Good Kill Hunting


ALIAS
La tarantola dal ventre nero
TAGLINE
TITLE ACCURACY
There actually are tarantulas involved in the movie, and, sort of, in the metaphor for the killer’s MO. It’s still an appreciably baroque giallo title, but I’d put it a tad more accurate than most.
LITERARY ADAPTATION?
No
SEQUEL?
No
REMAKE?
No
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Italy
HORROR SUB-GENRE
Giallo, Slasher, Whodunnit
SLUMMING A-LISTER?
None. Well, maybe Stefania Sandrelli? She had been in a couple movies that now have Criterion editions.
BELOVED HORROR ICON?
None
NUDITY?
Yes, almost immediately, like during the opening credits. And then several times thereafter, including, of course, the murders and the subsequent crime scene police hangouts.
SEXUAL ASSAULT?
None, although lots of murders while nude.
WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK!
There’s a lecture on how tarantulas have only one mortal enemy, a kind of wasp -- which we see fighting with a spider which is clearly not a tarantula. But this battle seems worth showing to the detectives because, “i wanted you to see this because of its analogy to the two murders.” Later, another tarantula is used as a weapon, though somewhat ineffectively because the cop just squashes it,
GHOST/ ZOMBIE / HAUNTED BUILDING?
None
POSSESSION?
No
CREEPY DOLLS?
One murder takes place in a room filled with eerie mannequins that menacingly fall all over the victim, which does not seem to help her mental state.
EVIL CULT?
None
MADNESS?
Certainly
TRANSMOGRIFICATION?
None
VOYEURISM?
Yeah, much blackmail and stuff with pictures (and video! Of people nude through their open windows.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Arachnids have much to teach us.