To paraphrase Pilate, Jesus needs to give it a rest.
I’m talking about Jesus Franco, of course. Franco is the renowned Spanish director of almost 200 films, most of which are notable for their tongue-in-cheek horror as well as Franco’s own unorthodox directing techniques. And while his older films like “Vampyros Lesbos” and “Zombie Lake” were intriguing enough, in their poorly shot/written/edited way, “Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula” is an incoherent mess.
Lina Romay (Mrs. Franco) plays Tarantula, a nightclub performer whose act essentially involves writhing around naked on a web. She seduces female audience members and takes them back to her place in order to string them up on more webs and, sometimes, turns into a spider with a human head.
Aging scream queen Michelle Bauer plays scantily-clad sheriff Marga, who is investigating the disappearances. Aging scream queen Linnea Quigley plays Tere, a possible suspect. Soon-to-be-aging scream queen Amber Newman (are you sensing a trend here?) plays Tere’s daughter Amy. All of them get naked. The only reason this is noteworthy is because without all the gratuitous T&A, you’d be looking at a 10 minute movie. Tops.
Franco has made a name for himself as a cult phenomenon for almost 50 years, but “Mari-Cookie” lacks the freaky abandon of his earlier works. The plot, never a heavy requirement in Franco’s later films, is so slight as to be nonexistent. Luckily (or not, depending on your point of view), this frees up plenty of time for aging scream queen lesbian action.
I found myself wondering if Franco was even on the set during filming. More likely he just instructed his leading ladies to improv some bump-and-grind, took a nap, then returned to the editing room to add his trademark garish hues and frenetic camera tricks.
Frankly, he needn’t have bothered. “Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula” is a painfully overindulgent exercise, signifying little except that someone clearly needs to tell Franco his ennui is showing.
If you can handle a visibly bored Linnea Quigley giving behind-the-scenes naked commentary and the world’s most aggravating DVD menu, you can treat yourself to the short film “Les Psycholettes” and a wealth of Easter, er, “spider” eggs. Franco fans may find the extras almost make the DVD worth buying, but there’s still that whole movie to sit through.