Mesa of Lost Women (1953)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1953 (USA)  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

In Mesa of Lost Women, viewers get two bad films for the price of one. First, there's the footage shot by Herbert Tevos for a film that was to be called Tarantula. That name was scrapped when the result was so poor that the film was deemed to be unreleasable. When a shortage of product for movie houses developed, the Tevos footage was taken over by Ron Ormond, who filled out the film with silent-era child star Jackie Coogan, some spider-babes, and a few dwarfs. Unfortunately, even the energetic presence of Angelo Rossitto didn't help enough. This is one of those films that's fun to read about and tedious to watch. The story is more incoherent than non-linear, the characters are woodenly constructed, and the overall film is a dull, tepid mess. Several people with notable credentials worked on Mesa of Lost Women, including cinematographer Karl Struss, who won a richly deserved Oscar for his work on F.W. Murnau's silent-era classic Sunrise. Composer Hoyt Curtin would later go on to write the television theme songs for The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Bit player Dinky Dean Riesner (credited here as "Dean Reisner") had, like Coogan, worked as a child actor with Charles Chaplin. Later he would become a successful screenwriter, working on such Clint Eastwood classics as Dirty Harry. Unlike the auteur efforts of Ed Wood, the spliced together parts of Mesa of Lost Women lack the single-visioned sincerity of such "so bad they're good" efforts as Plan 9 From Outer Space. Incidentally, the copyright date on the film is 1952, though there are indications that the film didn't receive much distribution until 1956, following the success of Universal's Tarantula.