To get away from the hectic big city, Jean (Brenda Joyce) has accepted
a job as companion of blind Miss Zenobia Dollard (Gale Sondergaard) in a
sleepy cattle town somewhere out west. But even though Zenobia couldn't be
nicer and she's well-respected in town, it isn't long before Jean starts
to feel a certain unease - and maybe it's Zenobia's gloomy house, maybe
her creepy mute servant (Rondo Hatton), maybe the fact that Zenobia is
always evasive when she inquites about her predecessor, but something
doesn't add up. And why does she oversleep every day all of a
Meanwhile in town, cattle dies from poisonous weed, even if
there is no poisonous weed in the area. Since most locals are cattle
ranchers, a slight panic breaks out before too long, which is why rancher
Hal (Kirby Grant) - incidently Jean's ex who's still in love with her -
calls on the department for agricultural affairs for assistance, and they
soon send investigator Moore (Milburn Stone) down.
Now how are these two
Well, Zenobia has Jean drugged every night, then
takes some of her blood to feed it to her flesh-eating plant, together
with some spiders, and from the plant she extracts poison for the cattle.
Oh, and of course she's actually not blind in the least.
tells Hal she thinks there's something wrong with Zenobia, and he and
Moore decide to stop by, suspecting not her but her creepy butler ... but
by that time, Jean has found out more about Zenobia's wrongdoings and is
thus locked up in the basement - and when Zenobia then tells Hal Jean has
left for San Francisco without saying good bye, he grows suspicious ...
and Zenobia and her butler immediately panic and burn down the place,
dying in the process, while it's up to Hal to save Jean in the nick of
But why did Zenobia do it? Well, once her family owned all the
land in the area, but then one of her relatives lost it gambling ... and
by poisoning the cattle, Zenobia has hoped to drive away all the ranchers
and buy back their land at bargan prices ...
The title suggests
this being a sequel to the Sherlock
Holmes movie The Spider
Woman - but despite both movies sharing Gale Sondergaard playing
the villainess, her characters in these two movies have nothing in common,
and likewise, Rondo Hatton from the Sherlock
Holmes film The Pearl of
Death plays a very different character in this one, which isn't
even a murder mystery but more of a horror film.
In all, The Spider
Woman Strikes Back is a definitely less than perfect film: While it's
quite ok in the atmosphere department, the story's a bit too far-fetched
and does show a few too many plotholes or leaps of reason, plus it's doing
at best ok in the suspense department. True, Universal
has put out way worse horror films than this one, but that hardly makes
this one really good.