The Spider

[a.k.a. Earth vs. The Spider]
Dir: Bert I. Gordon
Star: Edward Kemmer, June Kenny, Gene Persson, Gene Roth

Made in 1958, the American International B-movie is lively fun - and, surprisingly, the FX are not totally awful, especially compared to Gordon's other work, such as The Amazing Colossal Man. Indeed, the middle sequence, where the giant spider is resurrected by rock 'n' roll (okay, it was only stunned), and proceeds to meander round town, is actually pretty effective - more so than the climax, truth be told - and the film also gets to make use of Carlsbad Caverns, which definitely kicks up the production values a notch or three. These help overcome obvious limitations, such as "teenagers" who are closer to the old folks' home than high school, and the strange noises made by the spider, somewhere between a squeaky wheel and a slowly-deflating balloon.

I'm not even going to detail the plot, as it's really secondary to just about everything - even the charmingly naive plugs for other Gordon movies, which seem to be all the local cinema plays. Let's just say, a) there's a cave; b) the spider emerges when necessary; c) people go in when necessary; and d) DDT, dynamite and electricity are all used to counter the arachnid, with results best described as "mixed". While obviously hardly original, it moves along briskly, with enough memorable moments and characters, such as the bat-ocidal sheriff, who shoots chiroptera first, asking questions later. This is a monster mash that remains lots of fun, even almost fifty years after its release.

April 2006

It's a spider, man...
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