The Spider Woman Strikes Back

The Spider Woman Strikes Back is a 1946 horror film starring Gale Sondergaard, with a running time of 59 minutes. Despite the similar title and role played by Sondergaard, the film is not a sequel to the Sherlock Holmes film, The Spider Woman. In The Spider Woman, Sondergaard's character is named Adrea Spedding.[1] This time it is Zenobia Dollard.[2][3]

The Spider Woman Strikes Back
Theatrical release poster
Directed byArthur Lubin
Produced byHoward Welsch
Written byEric Taylor
Music byMilton Rosen
CinematographyPaul Ivano
Edited byRay Snyder
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 22, 1946 (1946-03-22)
Running time
59 minutes
CountryUnited States


A young woman comes to a small rural town to serve as secretary for a blind woman, the town's wealthiest person. The town is awash in mystery owing to the inexplicable deaths of local ranchers' cattle. The young woman becomes entangled in a web of horror as she discovers that her employer, aided by the hideously deformed household servant, has used the blood of her predecessors to create a death serum when it is mixed with spider venom - and that her own blood is now being harvested at night, while she is in a drugged sleep, to continue the experiment.


Also named in the film's screen cast were actresses Ruth Robinson, Adda Gleason, Lois Austin and Eula Guy. However, their roles were omitted from the final cut, and may even have not been filmed.


The film was announced in March 1945. It was to be the first in a series starring The Spider Woman, like the ones Universal had for Dracula and Frankenstein. It was the second time Universal had spun off a horror series from their Sherlock Holmes movies, the first being The Creeper from The Pearl of Death. The film was originally called The Spider Woman Strikes Again and was based on an original story by Eric Taylor. Ford Beebe was the original director attached.[4][5]

In September Universal announced the film would be directed by Arthur Lubin.[6] Lubin said he "hated" the movie and did not want to do it but the studio threatened to put him on suspension otherwise.[7] The lead roles went to Sondegaard, Brenda Joyce, Kirby Grant and Rondo Hatton.[8]


Diabolique magazine said the film was "poorly received and helped kill off Universal’s second horror cycle. And it’s a poor movie – a confused script and inadequate casting of support roles are mostly to blame but, it must be admitted, Lubin did not seem to have a particular feel/affinity for horror material. He was probably too upbeat and happy a person – no James Whale gloominess for him."[9]


  1. The Spider Woman at Turner Classic Movies
  2. The Spider Woman Strikes Back at Turner Classic Movies
  3. Spider Woman Strikes Back, The Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 14, Iss. 157, (Jan 1, 1947): 118.
  4. Gale Sondergaard Named Spider Woman Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 21 Mar 1945: A2.
  5. SCREEN NEWS: CO-STAR OF REVUE Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 21 Mar 1945: 26
  6. MYRNA LOY NAMED FOR COMEDY LEAD New York Times 21 Sep 1945: 18.
  7. Davis, p. 182.
  8. Cobb Returns to 20th Los Angeles Times 26 Sep 1945: A3.
  9. Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.


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