A not-so-merry little band of thieves meet up at a ski resort in Deadwood, South Dakota so they can work on what turns out to be the most fantastically boring caper I’ve ever witnessed. As an extreme side-note there’s a spider-ish thing in a cave.
A 6 bar gold heist (can you call it a “heist” if it’s that small an amount?) seems to be the motivation behind this fairly disappointing waste of time. I suspected things would take a turn for the worse once I saw the unholy combination of Charles B. Griffith and Gene Corman. Griffith may be responsible for writing some pretty yummy stuff (Not of this Earth, A Bucket of Blood, Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000) but like Corman, he is known for just as much misery as he is for solid entertainment. It was anybody’s guess where this little experiment would go, but as sure as shit draws flies this flick tanked hard and fast.
It is notable for a few reasons though; Monte Hellman (Two Lane Blacktop) cut his proverbial teeth directing this and it stars Frank Wolff who genre fans will immediately recognize from his Euro stint in such classics as Death Walks on High Heels,Cold Eyes of Fear, Salavatore Giuliano, and Once Upon a Time in the West. Sadly, Frank committed suicide at 43, but I highly recommend his body of work; he’s a treat to watch and he possesses a genuine, instant likability. That’s about the best you’re going to get out of this; it’s a quickie shot on a shoe-string budget. It was made purely to utilize the location and actors that Roger was using to make the pseudo-Nazi war flick Ski Troop Attack.
Even adoring some of the snippy dialogue, the filming in black and white, the dated innocence of films from the era, it’s difficult to take this as a serious horror film; because it just isn’t. It focuses primarily on the thieves and their insipid little plan so it’s a heist film with a pretty half-assed horror afterthought. While what little effects they do show: the beast itself, (basically a guy inside a dark suit, covered in webs with a bunch of spider-y legs hanging off of him) the bodies trapped in webbing, etc. are decent enough (certainly comparable to films of the time), I think if they had just spent a little more time developing the ‘beast’ storyline it would have drastically improved my enjoyment. There are some cute moments, some humor, but this isn’t what I’m really looking for in a horror movie with the title Beast from Haunted Cave.
Would I recommend this film? Not unless you’re super hard up for a sub-par caper flick. If you happen to find yourself being a Frank Wolff completist then this film is, of course, essential.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Jocelyn lives on 35 acres of woodland in an undisclosed Appalachian location. When not boozing it up or fighting the power she's tending her organic garden or collecting punk/soundtrack albums. Her best friends walk on 4 legs. She does not own a cell phone.