Grant Phillips (Robert Knapp) and Doreen Culbertson (Paula Hill) are wandering around in the Muerto desert, lost. They are found by an American surveyor Frank (John Martin) and his driver Pepe (Chris-pin Martin). The nearly dead couple is brought to Doc Tucker (Allan Nixon) at the "Amer-Exico Field Hospital". When Grant regains consciousness he relays the story of how they escaped Zarpa Mesa and became lost in the desert.
A year ago, famous scientist Leland Masterson (Harmon Stevens) arrives at Zarpa Mesa, having accepted an invitation from a fellow scientist named Dr. Aranya (Jackie Coogan). Masterson is anxious to discuss Aranya’s scientific theories about the pituitary gland. Aranya states that they are not theories but facts. He has done many experiments to prove them. He has already created both human-sized tarantula spiders and human women with the abilities and instincts of spiders. His creation Tarantella (Tandra Quinn) is the proof. She has regenerative abilities. She can re-grow severed limbs. He also expects her to have a lifespan of several centuries. His experiments on men, however, have only created disfigured dwarfs.
Masterson freaks out and condemns everything Aranya is doing. Tarantella injects him with a serum. The drug turns him into a space cadet. He is found in the desert and put into an asylum. Masterson escapes and heads to Mexico. In a dive cantina he meets Jan van Croft (Nico Lek) and his fiancée Doreen Culbertson (Paula Hill). They had been on their way to Mexico City to get married when they had plane trouble. Also in the Cantina is Tarantella. Soon Masterson’s nurse George (George Barrows) from the asylum shows up.
Masterson shoots Tarantella and kidnaps Jan, Doreen, George and Jan’s servant Wu (Samuel Wu). He forces Jan’s pilot Grant Phillips (Robert Knapp) to fly them all even though there are still problems with the plane. Up in the air the plane again has engine trouble and they are forced to land. They end up on Zarpa Mesa.
Meanwhile, Tarantella regenerates and leaves the bar.
“Mesa of Lost Women” was released in 1953 and was directed by Ron Ormond and Herbert Tevos. This is one of those movies that have never had any restoration done it so pretty much every copy of this movie is crap. In more ways than one. There are skips and pops and dark sections in abundance.
But that is not the worst part. It is the “B” of “B” movies having been passed from director to director and having taken years to complete. It’s what happens when you run out of money. The story changed from a survival story to a mad scientist horror story. All the footage from the spider girls and mad scientist was added later. So was that damn guitar.
I can put up with a lot of junk in a bad movie but this one has always grated on me. There were two things that even alone would have sent me over the deep end. First the narrator, Lyle Talbot, sounds like he’s talking to children. Stupid children. Second, that damn guitar.
Those two drawbacks irk me so much that I have trouble just looking at the movie as a cult film. There is a multitude of camp and what the directors think is artistic expression. The spider ladies have crossed that line from vamp to camp. I was OK with that. Although Tarantella did her best to look as exotic and sexy as possible, just posing and staring at the camera was a little more corny than vampy. The giant pipe cleaner spider was enjoyable but all too brief. The film cutting unfortunately made me a little dizzy. I would normally have understood why some people got a kick out of it and even liked it. I might have too except for that damn guitar.
“Mesa Of Lost Women” won a Golden Turkey Award and is among the list of The Fifty Worst Movies Ever Made. Even Mystery Science Theater 3000 wouldn’t touch it. This is one of those movies that show up in every 10, 20, 50, and 100 pack of public domain horror movie compilations. I must have 10 copies of the damn thing. If you own anything by Mill Creek you probably have it too.