W: Leonard Schrader [based on the novel by
DP: Rodolfo Sanchez
Ed: Mauro Alice & Lee Percy
Mus: John Neschling
William Hurt (Luis Molina), Raul
Julia (Valentin Arregui), Sonia Braga (Leni Lamaison / Marta / Spider Woman)
Those settling down to watch this expecting a horror movie
will be sorely disappointed. The title may allude to that particular genre, but this a political prison drama with main character who is flamboyantly homosexual.
Luis Molina (William Hurt), jailed for offences against a
minor, shares a cell with political prisoner Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), whom he entertains with stories about his favourite pulp movies, all of which star Spider Woman (Sonia
The main plot of the film develops slowly, only truly taking
shape in the final 30 minutes, so it's understood if people switch off before then, but it's really worth sticking with.
In hindsight, it's quite strange that William Hurt won a Best
Actor Oscar for his portrayal of, what is basically, an effeminate, overly camp stereotype, but it has to be remembered that this performance is amongst the first of its kind. Though it
must be said that Raul Julia's performance is the one to watch, full of quiet rage and pent up aggression.
It's certainly not a film for everyone, but should find a core
audience amongst art house aficionados.