How many horror flicks boast a soundtrack comprised entirely of Flamenco guitar and piano? This haphazard Howco release does. (In fact,the score was later used intact in Ed Wood's classic Jail Bait).Mesa of Lost Women, which slipped into distrubution in 1952, was co-directed by the legendary Ron Ormond whose filmic tendrils snake throughout the cult movie underground.

The Ormond imprint can be found on everything from "adult" sex-dramas, like Please Don't Touch Me, to a string of Lash LaRue westerns released by PRC in the late forties.

It is Mesa of Lost Women, however, that goes in the time capsule for future generations to enjoy. Later re-released as Lost Women and Lost Women of Zarpa, this half-baked horror was an unfinished film called Tarantula, which Ron Ormond was called upon to complete. As Ormond's wife June Carr Ormond told Filmfax magazine, it's "the lousiest thing I've ever seen." In truth, there have been worse films (some directed by Ormond!), but we're not about to argue with her.

The proceedings are dominated by burly Jackie (Uncle Fester) Coogan as the sinister Dr. Arana ("That's Spanish for spider" utters an incredulous cast member). Ensconced at his desert hideaway, he busily cross-breeds tarantulas with voluptuous babes. Tandra Quinn as the sultry Tarantella performs a particularly engaging exotic dance.

Before long, a former victim of Arana's leads hero Allan Nixon and his trusted servant, Wu, to the titular Mesa where they encounter its horrors firsthand. Following Coogan's comeuppance, Lyle Talbot, shrewdly off-screen, delivers the wrap-up via voice-over.

Cult-film fanatics will not be disappointed when trusting the Ormond family brand, finding it on films of every stripe. From nudies to religious flicks, if offbeat sleaze is your cup of tea, check out these recommendations:

The Exotic Ones aka The Monster and the Stripper (1968)
Rockabilly twanger Sleepy LaBeef stars as a swamp-bred monster stalking the strip clubs of New Orleans. Written, produced and directed by Ron, wife June Ormond is prominently featured, as well as a bevy of strippers..

Acting: D
Atmosphere: D
Fun: C

Untamed Mistress (1960)
"Meet Velda. The kind of Woman Man or Gorilla would Kill ... To Keep." So screamed the posters heralding this Ormond schlock-fest. Allan Nixon returns from Mesa of Lost Women to woo starlet Jaqueline Fontaine. "When she LOVED she knew NO SHAME." Neither did Ormond.

Acting: D
Atmosphere: D
Fun: C

"Crawling horror rising from the depths of hell "
Attack of the Giant Leeches

"The free-living world of the over-teens!"
The Rebel Set

"The pounding of the afterbrain signals vengeance and death!"
The Brain

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