Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


The big spider advances on the town!
TARANTULA (1955). Director: Jack Arnold.

Professor Deemer (a disinterested Leo G. Carroll) is experimenting on food nutrients with animals and has inexplicably created some economy-sized creatures, including a dog-sized spider. During a battle with a crazed assistant who experimented on himself, a fire breaks out and the animals are destroyed -- or so Deemer thinks. The spider actually walked out into the desert and [although it's no longer receiving the nutrient] continues to grow and grow, finding another food supply in cattle, horses and humans. The local doctor, Matt Hastings (John Agar of Brain from Planet Arous), Deemer's new assistant Stephanie Clayton (Mara Corday of The Giant Claw), the sheriff (Nestor Paiva) and newspaper man Joe Burch (Ross Elliott) all do their best to wipe out the big spider and stay out of its jaws. The special effects are variable but shots of the huge tarantula roaming the desert and sneaking up on victims are creepy, and there's a great scene when it peeks in at Corday at Deemer's mansion and then completely demolishes the house. Ross Elliott played the director on the classic "Lucy Does a Commercial" episode of I Love Lucy, and also played Ricky's publicity man when the series went to Hollywood under his own name. He was a busy actor, also appearing in a number of fantastic genre films. For more on this and similar films see Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.

Verdict: Lots of fun and quite ghoulish at times. ***. 


Dj Buddy Beaverhausen said...

One of the best giant "insect" movies (though I know a spider's not an insect; just going by movie sub-genre).

William said...

Now I can't make any arachnid jokes!