Mesa Of Lost Women, 1953. 3/10

Like other critics have said, this movie is bad, but still worth making fun of. The premise actually is pretty good: mad scientist mutates crawly things in an underground lab in the Mexican desert. Mixing hot babes with dwarves is weird; but given the ersatz-logic of the evil scientist’s experiments, it makes just a bit of sense. The device of dying people wandering in the desert isn’t a bad idea either; it sets up an expectation that they’ll have a tale to tell.

Instead the obnoxious narrator tells us what we can easily see, or subsequently hear from the surviving pilot. And, as we eventually discover, the actual science fiction here is a sort of parallel consciousness allowing one guy to know what two or three have experienced individually.

Maybe the real nemesis is the folk music that bites into half of the scenes. The cantina scene took on a life of its own. Dancing that’s somehow both erotic and robotic, combined with the lobotomized Dr. Masterson terrorizing the place, is too cruel a spectacle for the viewer to endure for very long.

But then we not only get a change of scene, we’re literally fly into a different sort of movie. The pilot becomes the lead, as the kidnapped gang has to camp out, conveniently for the plot, on the dreaded mesa. The plane crash itself was fairly well done. But the expendable Asian servant is sent to his doom on a stupid errand. “There is a day to be born, and a day to die” he stoically remarks. Fortunately, the doctor recovers his senses in time to destroy the nasty nut scientist and his lab. But then we end up with the narrator again. Yes, we know that the beanbag spiders are still out in the desert, so don’t tell us…

What I expect in a monster movie is something menacing. Even a guy in a rubber suit, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, or James Arness’s otherworldly Frankenstein-monster from The Thing, can sustain suspension of disbelief with their palpable terror. But Mesa of Lost Women doesn’t give us anything extraordinary, except the pleasure of its unintended mash-ups. 3/10.

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