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The Cave of the Silken Web B-Movie Review
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THE CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB - 3 Slimes
Not Rated
Copyright 1967 Shaw Brothers.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 24 February 2008

The Characters:  

  • Tang Xuanzang - Where did you get that ridiculous headdress? Did you cut it out from the back of a box of cereal?
  • Monkey King - Eldest disciple of Xuanzang. He exhibits primate features and mannerisms, though his attire makes him look like the cross-dressing Cub Scout son of a Shriner. Monkey King's nearly permanent look of simian surprise started to worry me. I was afraid that the character's eyeballs would dry up and fall out.
  • Piggy - Disciple of Xuanzang. This jovial fellow has a pig's ears and snout. Piggy is always in the mood for love, but he has no luck with the ladies, which might be due to his ample man boobs.
  • Wu Jing - Disciple of Xuanzang. He wears a rosary el grande.
  • Earth Lord - He spends all of his time drinking and playing chess. Now, that explains a few things about the Earth, doesn't it?
  • Wugong - Horned demon who suffers from male pattern baldness. Beaten into chili powder by Monkey King and the other disciples.
  • The Seven Spider Sisters - They all wear silken shawls and items with their signature colors. Gold is the oldest and the leader, while the others are Silver, Black, Red, Blue, Green, and Purple. As demons, they can shoot magical webs and retain female servants who are spiders given human form. The entire nest of poisonous femmes is wiped out, because nothing says "happy ending" like a crazed Monkey King roasting dozens of screaming girls with his magical flamethrower.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Regular readers often come here for the weird stuff; those movies that would leave the average, rational citizen feeling like they spent the last ninety minutes wrestling a Rottweiler. Well, I have another gift to place at your feet. Imagine a Shaw Brothers martial arts flick that is based on the same legends as "Dragon Ball." With me so far? Good. Take that script and put it into the hands of a Bollywood director. There is singing and dancing, kung fu fighting, a dude who is part man/part monkey, and a cave full of female spider demons who want to boil a Buddha for breakfast.

Yes, mankind reached this stage of enlightenment decades ago.

The opening scenes show the Seven Spider Sisters' idyllic lifestyle. Music plays as the women execute simple, geometric patterns through the air with their arms. To keep things interesting, each girl has a total of six arms (plus the legs; that makes eight limbs). The effect appears to be achieved by having two more women standing directly behind the actress playing the Spider Sister and is really unique. However, because it would be impractical for the women to go through the entire movie like that, all of the demons take on human form, though they still wear shawls with spider web designs and sport long fingernails.

Alerted by their servants that travelers are passing near the cave, the Spider Sisters crowd around a red crystal ball (easier on the eyes and doesn't impair your night vision). The evil spirits are excited, because what they see is Xuanzang and his disciples. Anyone who eats the flesh of the holy man will become immortal. Despite being no match for the Monkey King in an outright duel of magic or martial arts, the demons decide to capture the Buddha through cunning and guile. The Spider Sisters disguise the cave as a humble hut and wait for their prey.

Monkey King is not falling for the ruse. He sees right through the illusion and warns his master and brothers. The failure of the "innocuous little hut in the wilderness" plan proves to be a minor setback for the demons. Three of them lure Piggy away from his friends by pretending to be unmarried maidens that sing their sorrowful song of unrequited love near a waterfall. Piggy jubilantly sings back to the girls, promising love and more (amorous pig man alert). He chases the girls through the forest until Monkey King intervenes. One Spider Sister is trapped inside a magical cage and the rest are driven off, but Tang Xuanzang is kidnapped while his disciples are distracted. Gold Sister turns him into smoke and sucks him up into a magical vase.

Egad, a vase full of powdered Tang, at that!

A short battle occurs outside of the demons' cave as Monkey King attempts to free his master. Unable to defeat the persistent disciple, the Spider Sisters block the entrance to their cave with electrified webs. That succeeds in confounding Monkey King for a bit. He finally decides to ask the Earth Lord if there is a way to break the magical barriers. The six remaining Spider Sisters are left alone to gloat over eating Xuanzang, though they also hatch a plan to free their youngest sister from Monkey King's cage.

You know, out of context, everything that I am writing sounds horribly wrong.

The Spider Sisters waylay the Earth Lord as he stumbles his way home after a night of chess and drinking (if that sounds fun, you are probably over 50). One of the crafty female demons hits him over the head with a huge rock! Bonk! The Earth Lord goes down for the count and a Spider Sister assumes his form. Posing as the Earth Lord, she tricks the old man's wife into giving the Monkey King bad advice. The captive demon gets away, Piggy is a snatched, and Monkey King and Wu Jing are still trapped outside.

At least Wu Jing does finally hear about the Spider Sisters' weakness: the Taoist King has an artifact called the Seven Fires. It is instant death for the female demons. Wu Jing sets out to find the Taoist King.

Meanwhile, back at the cave, Monkey King finally gets inside when Red Sister opens the web to sneak in her demon lover, Wugong. While the two demons make the arachnid with two backs, Monkey King turns invisible and creeps around. He does his best to avoid watching the fornicating lovers and concentrates on sowing confusion among the other sisters. Not too hard, really. Blue Sister causes an uproar by sneaking Piggy (who took the form of Xuanzang and changed the Buddha to look like him) into her room. The result of that is a sexually frustrated Piggy and one less spider demon, because the other sisters kill her. Then Monkey King takes the form of Silver Sister and convinces the others to kill the real Silver.

Not to get sidetracked, but Red and her male demon, ah, "friend" do the deed in her special bed. Imagine a big spider web that is both springy and suspended from the ceiling. Now stick a nubile woman in the center. Yeah, that sounds fun to me, too. Unfortunately, you and I are both mortals. Once the *censored* was over, she would probably sink her paralyzing fangs into us and slowly suck out our liquefied guts.

Still, that web looks mighty fun. I wonder if they come in leopard print.

While in the web of love, Red and her horned beau do more than just the nasty. They hatch a plan to steal the Seven Fires from Wu Jing and keep Xuanzang for themselves. Red Sister appears before the imprisoned heroes (by now this is everyone except Monkey King) as the Bodhisattva and lures the three of them away to a false temple. Monkey King inadvertently helps cause plenty of confusion when he stops sneaking around and starts running amok in the cave and Red Sister's scheme works perfectly. However, Monkey King follows his master and brothers. That is sure to complicate things for Red Sister and Wugong.

Once Monkey King catches up to his friends, there is a battle between him and Wugong, who is disguised as Monkey King (there is a lot of masquerading in this film). It goes badly for the demon. The disciples, including Piggy with his farming tool weapon, beat Wugong to death. Red is tracked down and punished by her sisters, which means the happy seven have now been reduced to four and they are not what one would call "happy." They do manage to capture Xuanzang again.

The four remaining Spider Sisters do not last long. Wu Jing carries the Seven Fires to the cave, then both he and Monkey King unleash it on the den of demons. The artifact appears to be a large earthenware jug, but it shoots fire like a flamethrower! Watch in awe as screaming women are burned alive by napalm shot from a clay jug that is wielded by a grinning monkey boy! I tell you, they don't make them like this anymore. Hong Kong in the 1960's was a special place.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The oldest, most powerful ape magicians are always bald.
  • Unmarried women often congregate near waterfalls.
  • Spider silk is highly corrosive.
  • The Earth Lord has a bad back.
  • Pig thieves can run, but they can't hide.
  • Red spiders spin red webs.
  • Demons follow the three F's of home decorating: fruit, fire, and fog.
  • Improperly fermented kimchi is highly flammable.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - I have always wondered what it would be like to stare at a bathroom window.
  • 11 mins - That is going to make him itch like crazy.
  • 17 mins - The Spider Sisters are stumped as to where Piggy could have gone. Maybe they should leave him alone. Hahahahaha!
  • 17 mins - Ah, stop! No hit! No hit!
  • 22 mins - What, did you actually think that this movie was going to include scenes of Chinese women shooting spider web out of their butts?
  • 33 mins - She hit him with the Porkelator!
  • 72 mins - Kurosawa would have used the mud and rain in a different scene.
  • 83 mins - This spell is called "Curse of the Million Buddhas."

Quotes: 

  • Black Spider Sister: "Look, he's fat and cute. He must be fun."
  • Gold Spider Sister: "You're out of your mind. Sisters, get the monkey!"
  • Monkey King: "If you don't free my master, I'll destroy your demon cave."
  • Earth Lord: "These demons are ruthless. They shouldn't beat up an old man like me."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipcaveweb1.mpg - 4.4m
Monkey King fights the Spider Sisters at the entrance to their cave until they spin magic webs to block his attack. Again, the spider web is shot from the women's hands, vice their backsides. Nobody wants to watch seven women spray spider silk out of their butts.

Okay, I'll admit, a few guys probably do. You are FREAKS!

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