From the silent era to sound, from Germany to Hollywood, and from one genre to the next, Fritz Lang's varied and tumultuous career extended over five decades, yet his paranoid vision never wavered. No matter the period or locale, Lang always found a sinister undercurrent at work, a conspiratorial force that's far-reaching and immensely powerful, yet well-organized enough to stay out of the public eye. An auteurist's dream, his trademark themes on the nature of evil surfaced again and again in his darkly expressive films, a fact evidenced by a pair of reissues separated by 41 years: 1919's two-part serial Spiders and his final film, 1960's 1,000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse. Modeled too closely after Louis Feuillade's superior 10-part classic Les Vampires (1915), Spiders emphasizes exotic adventure over intrigue, but the numerous similarities between the two don't favor Lang, who hadn't yet come into his own as a director. Like the Feuillade serial, the title refers to an underground ring of black-cloaked thieves—in Spiders, the villains pointedly include top businessmen and public figures—behind a crime spree that leaves the police confounded. The first episode, "The Golden Sea," is by far the strongest, a breathlessly paced treasure hunt with one action setpiece barreling into another as unflappable hero Carl de Vogt hangs from a hot-air balloon, wrestles an asp, and saves nemesis Ressel Orla from being sacrificed to the Incan sun god. The adventure continues in "The Diamond Ship," which sticks to rote formula, again involving a ruthless quest for jewels and adding swordplay, tigers, secret compartments, collapsing walls, and a few grossly stereotyped Chinese crooks. As a formative effort, Spiders anticipates the elaborate architecture in Lang's later work (particularly 1926's Metropolis) and his preoccupation with densely organized schemes, but he wouldn't hit his stride until after the German expressionist movement broke out the same year. By the time he closed his career with 1,000 Eyes Of Dr. Mabuse, Lang had been through the harrowing experience of WWII—his wife divorced him and joined the Nazi party, and he fled Germany under cover of night—and refined his technique on low-budget American genre films. The last in a trilogy that began with 1926's Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler and 1933's The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse—the latter of which had its final reel excised by Goebbels—1,000 Eyes shrewdly updates Lang's omniscient, Hitlerian mastermind for the dawning media age. A rash of unsolved crimes leads detectives to the Luxor Hotel, where the unseen Mabuse monitors the rooms with hidden cameras and microphones and dictates orders through a vast network of nefarious thugs. The labyrinthine plot has satisfying elements of police procedural, whodunit, and old-fashioned melodrama, delivered with the no-nonsense punch of a good American B-picture, but it's the idea of Mabuse that leaves a lasting impression. For Lang to revive a character that originally echoed the Nazi movement, so long after the war had ended, serves as a potent warning that evil is ever-present among the powers-that-be, even during peacetime.