At a bar in Los Angeles a woman who calls herself Valerie Steffan asks one of the men at the bar to help her with her car. The man agrees. Outside she tries to seduce him but he puts her off. He says he is waiting for someone special. The two men remaining in the bar are Mark Higbie (Tony Franciosa) and the bartender Carlo Lenzi (Michael DeLano). Suddenly they hear screaming. They run outside and see the man dead. He has two huge wounds in his chest. Up on top of a nearby ridge is something in the shadows.
Lieutenant Gully Conti (Vic Morrow) is investigating the case. Higbie is a private investigator. Conti tells him to butt out and go home. The dead man’s fiancé comes to see Higbie. She is Leigh Lockwood (Donna Mills). Leigh’s husband died years earlier on a cruise and now she’s number one on Conti’s radar as a suspect in his killing. Not wanting to go through that ordeal again, Leigh hires Higbie to find out who killed her fiancé. Higbie and his secretary Flaps (Roz Kelly) do a lot of digging.
The coroner found no blood in the victim but he did find what appeared to be spider venom. He finds out that Leigh’s fiancé is not the first to die in that manner. Each time someone died the mysterious Valerie was nearby. Two witnesses, a drunk named Popeye and the bartender Lenzi believe they saw a giant spider.
Leigh has a twin sister Laura (Patty Duke). Their father died in a plane crash. The mother survived and was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to twins. It was two days before they were found. By then one of the babies had been nearly bitten to death by insects. He also hears about an ancient curse passed through the female line where, on a full moon and when the woman is under stress, she transforms into a spider and kills. She will encase her victims in webbing and feed on them. When they are in their spider form they can only be killed by fire.
More killings happen. The police think that either Leigh or Laura is the spider woman. Higbie isn’t sure what to think.
“Curse of the Black Widow” was released in 1977 and was directed by Dan Curtis. The movie is a combo of crime/horror/mystery/science fiction. It is also a made for TV movie for ABC.
There are several problems with this movie that kept me from totally enjoying it. One is that there are so many plot holes it made it a little difficult to follow the story. Second is that the special effects are not that great. Normally that’s not a big problem, but in this case, the spider monster is almost never seen and all you have is a rambling plot. There are also a lot of continuity errors in the directing. The credits call the family Lockwood but the characters in the movie call the family Lockridge. Other little things like that that just break your concentration.
There is also some good stuff about the movie. The actual plot is great. A woman with split personality where the other personality is a German accented vixen that actually turns into a giant spider is wonderful. Although a lot of people may not have been impressed with the monster, I actually liked the spider once I got to see it. The film sports some great actors as well. Tony Franciosa, Donna Mills, Vic Morrow, Patty Duke, June Allyson, Max Gail, Roz Kelly and even a couple cameos from June Lockhart and Sid Caesar.
Put it all together and, if you go with the flow, the good outweighs the bad. “Curse of the Black Widow” is for those who like cheezy campy movies. If you like silly popcorn movies or if you’re a fan of the “Night Stalker” film and/or TV series then this is something you might be interested in. It’s not pretentious, it’s just a fun little monster movie.