The film was originally made by Pergor Productions under the title Tarantula and was viewed and granted a Motion Picture Production Code seal in October 1951. When the producers had difficulty in securing a distributor, Howco Productions Inc. bought the film in the spring of 1952 and assigned Ron Ormond to direct additional footage for the film.
Tandra Quinn recalled that Ormond took several months after Tevos completed filming and shot additional sequences, including new ones with Jackie Coogan and Quinn’s characters being shot, which was not in the original version.
Katherine Victor remembered that she was hired by Ormond to have her desert sequences added to the film, as the original film was not able to be picked up for distribution.
Director Herbert Tevos, born Herbert Schoellenbach, reportedly claimed to have had a film career in his native Germany and to have directed films starring Marlene Dietrich and Erich von Stroheim. He even claimed credit for supposedly directing the film The Blue Angel (1930). Actually, Mesa was his only known film credit.
The music of the film was composed by Hoyt Curtin., the man who gave you the soundtracks for Hanna Barbera cartoons! It makes use of a flamenco guitar and a piano, with their sounds combined in what seems to be a free jazz composition. It was later reused in the film Jail Bait (1954). The narrator Lyle Talbot also appeared in various films by Ed Wood, such as Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). One of the various spider-women of Aranya is played by Dolores Fuller, who also appeared in Wood’s films. The film also features the film debut of Katherine Victor as the spider-woman who first drove Masterson to the desert. She later became better known as a regular in Jerry Warren films.
While Tarantella is one of the key characters of the film, this was a silent part for actress Tandra Quinn. She also had a silent part in The Neanderthal Man (1953), playing a deaf-mute. Decades later, Quinn recalled that she never received “a decent speaking part” in a film. She reportedly chose her stage name by modifying one suggested by Tevos. He had suggested the stage name Tandra Nova. She agreed to the first name “Tandra”, but found the last name unsuitable and reminiscent of Lou Nova. She instead chose the last name “Quinn” in honor of dancer Joan Quinn.
Mesa was one of six 1950s films to make use of wire-controlled giant spiders. The others were Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), Tarantula (1955), World Without End (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), and Missile to the Moon (1958). Mesa and Cat-Women made use of similar giant spider props. However the spider used in Mesa was limited in movement, a single jump being its greatest action feat. The one in Cat-Women was created by Wah Chang and was more advanced. Both Mesa and Missile to the Moon were partially filmed in the Red Rock Canyon State Park.
black & white, fullscreen, mono, 69 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!