I was wandering around KMart in West Lebanon the other day and I found a Shaw Brothers movie that I had never heard of: The Cave of the Silken Web. I thought I was in for some excellent Kung Fu action, so I had to pick it up.
The movie was made in 1967 and was the Shaw Brothers third production. There was a bit of Kung Fu in the movie, but it was mostly a musical comedy. It followed the exploits of Xuanzang, a monk, and his "hapless adventures", one of whom is the Monkey King (which you may or may not have seen in that movie with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, The Forbidden Kingdom).
The Monkey King is a Chinese legend that goes way back. The portrayal in this movie was delightful, he stole the entire show. I think that Jet Li closely studied his performance before filming his scenes as the Monkey King in The Forbidden Kingdom.
The Monkey King aside, what really attracted me in this movie were the Spider Demon women who inhabited the Silken Cave. Here are a few of them pictured below...
The six arms were lost after the trippy intro, which was too bad but understandable. There were seven spider demon sisters who lived together. They were all trying to eat Xuanzang's flesh, because it would enable them to live forever. The spider demon ladies all claim to want to work together, but they are full of spite and trickery. Not only do they use these qualities against their enemies, but also against themselves, which makes things really interesting.
This movie got me excited about the idea of spider demon women, who were full of trickery and sensuality and spurred me to do a bit more research. There wasn't much that I could find on this topic, but what I did find I posted below.
This is a scan from the Usagi Yojimbo Kumo story line. It's collected in book 14: Usagi Yojimbo Demon Mask, which is a great collection where many mysteries abound. The scan is a bit blurry on the left edge because I didn't want to crack the spine of the book (sorry). In this story there is a spider demon woman, who is a torso of a woman with a spider body. It was a great story which introduces on of Sakai's great characters, Sasuke the demon hunter.
All this research got me jazzed to work on a character that might turn up somewhere down the line. A character with the six arms thing going on from The Cave of the Silken Web. I was going for a seductive character who might lead men on and then suck the blood out of them or something nasty like that. It's all just in the idea stage for now, but I like how it's shaping up.