5

When I was in grade school in the 1970s, I saw a movie on TV. This would have been during the "Movie of the Week" heyday, and the movie was shown on prime time network TV (in the US).

I'll describe the few scenes I can recall clearly.

Early in the film, a blond woman is chatting up a guy in the parking lot of a bar or nightclub. There's a creepy sound effect and some camera shenanigans, and the guy starts screaming as he flees from the lady (but we don't know why he's running from her). We - the viewers - see him through her "eyes" (the camera) as he runs in terror.

The next scene (that I can recall, but it had to be sequentially near the one described above) is the police (central characters, I think?) inspecting the parking lot/crime scene (and the body?). One cop is looking up, at the top of a brick wall obscured in darkness/unlit. His partner asks what he sees, and the staring cop mumbles some sort of nonsensical "I'm not sure" sort of response.

Through the course of the movie, we discover that...

...the woman has a birthmark just below her navel which is the red hourglass of a black widow spider.

We also learn that...

...she is literally transforming into a HUGE black widow spider to devour the men she's...? Having sex with? maybe? dating?

And later we learn...

...the woman had a daughter who ended up with foster parents. This may have been due to the fact the mother was a sex worker, but was later discovered to be the black widow shapeshifter (?)

Then the big climax takes place...

...and there's a battle against the monster in a house/building/warehouse/whatever. Someone lights the big black widow aflame and we see the huge thing spinning and burning (the legs didn't move; it wasn't the most stunning special effect you've ever seen, but it stuck with me as a kid).

Finally, in the closing scene...

...the daughter is shown playing on the beach in not far from her caretakers/guardians, and the camera zooms in tight to reveal she has the telltale red hourglass just below HER navel, too.

Some other things I recall:

  • The woman may have been a prostitute or sex worker of some kind, but I can't say for sure
  • The daughter possibly didn't know her mother at all; she may have been in foster care from (near) birth.
  • The movie was set in a coastal city; it was not a rural setting but an urban sprawl where the events take place.

I'm hoping this is enough for someone to identify the movie. Every time I search for something in Google I get Marvel/MCU hits. It's also all I have; this was 40 years ago and nothing else of note is in memory.

  • Partly out of curiosity how do you know it's a black widow spider? Was it definitely said, or is it what you assume it to be? – Jenayah May 1 at 19:29
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    The red hourglass mark is distinctive to one species of black widow -- it's iconic. – Zeiss Ikon May 1 at 19:30
  • @ZeissIkon alright, today I learned then :-) – Jenayah May 1 at 19:35
  • I rolled back the question title edit - I was working to keep spoilers out of it, and hide them as much as possible in the body of the question. If it's a problem though, please re-edit. – Josh May 1 at 19:51
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    Alright, your call. I just thought that for future reference, if someone was only browsing the titles, it might be useful to have more info on what the shapeshifting was into, to trigger some more memories (there are a couple of "shapeshifting movies" out there). But once again, your call :) – Jenayah May 1 at 19:54
6

This is Curse of the Black Widow (1977).

From IMDb:

An old legend about a woman transforming herself into a human-sized black widow spider and preying on victims during the full moon comes to life in this thriller. Twin sisters Lee and Laura are plagued by the deaths of people close to them, and a savvy cop and a cocky private investigator begin to unravel the spider web around the mysterious murders. A multiple-personality disorder also enters into the story.

The Wikipedia summary has more info on what you remembered:

During the full moon, these women turn into giant spiders in times of stress, kill their victims, encase them in webbing and feed on them. These women have a red hourglass-shaped birthmark on their abdomens, similar to those found on black widow spiders. They are practically indestructible in spider form; the only thing that can kill them is fire.

The movie is on YouTube (in seven parts); you can see the hourglass in the ending, for instance.


Found with the Google query movie "black widow" shapeshifter -marvel -"scarlett johansson".

  • 1
    Nice job! And fast, too! Why do I never remember to minus-out the stuff I don't want in the results?! :) – Josh May 1 at 19:54
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    @Josh because maybe you don't want Scarlett Johansson out of the results? :-) – Jenayah May 1 at 19:55
  • HA! And who in their right mind would? ;) – Josh May 1 at 20:04
  • Verified via the Wikipedia article. Well done and my thanks! – Josh May 1 at 20:04
  • @Josh you're welcome, enjoy the re-watch! – Jenayah May 1 at 20:05
2

Some of this (notably the bad special effects) seems similar to The Giant Spider Invasion -- originally in the top 50 grossing movies of 1975, it ran on network TV three times and eventually got roasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. The exploding, car-sized spider is pretty distinctive.

  • And soon to be riffed again live by RiffTrax (June 2019, I believe). – LAK May 1 at 19:55

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