Now I’ll be honest right off the bat… I’m scared shitless of spiders. Up there with lizards and frogs, they complete the trifecta of tiny animals that give me the shivers. As I geared up to watch this movie, much like with every movie focusing on the aforementioned critters, I wasn’t completely free of fear. That being said, after taking in all that there was, I walked away completely content in knowing that the shit I saw before my eyes was not only never going to happen, but was outright preposterous in every way possible. I also knew that this film warranted every bit of its cult classic status.
Released in 1975, THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION is a film barely held together by its extraordinarily thin plot. In the opening moments of the film, a meteor crash-lands into a field in the middle of Wisconsin. Creating a black hole, it allows for a giant alien spider to appear, lay its eggs, and ultimately take control of all the native spiders in the vicinity. While the local authorities - and a couple NASA “experts” - on the case, no one is safe as the giant arthropod is attacking everyone it crosses paths with during its wild romp through this small suburban town.
But the plot isn’t what makes the movie what it is today. Well, actually it is, but its more of how they brought this horrendous story to life that truly makes the movie shine. First off, the players in the film are outright atrocious. Apparently actors famous in their day, the movie might as well have been brought to life by a middle school improve group. From the sheriff trying to keep the community calm in their troubled times to the scientists discussing plausible explanations for the occurring events, very little that leaves the character’s mouths can be taken seriously. Perhaps the fault lies in the script, with lines like:
“We have a heavy gamma ray shower, an incredibly fast drop in barometric pressure, an aurora with no sun activity, and an amazingly potent unknown ground-level X-ray source nearby.”
- NASA Scientist
…and an entire scene of the sheriff ridiculing a panicking caller with his faux commercial spokesperson voice. It’s almost as if the entire film is filled with drunken banter, sexist remarks, and excessively stilted scientific conversation. No matter which element they happen to be pulling from at the moment, by no means does any of it add to the believability of the film in any way. It does, however, add to the fun.
Moving on to the film’s “visual effects,” I applaud the filmmakers attempt to bring this large spider to life. In all honesty, after watching how bad it looked and then finally finding out how they did it, I laughed hysterically. Apparently, the movie’s “50 foot spider” that roamed the Wisconsin countryside was created by adorning a VW Beetle with black fur and then fabricating gigantic legs extending from the doors that were operated by a crew inside the vehicle. The taillights on the vehicle served as animal’s glowing green eyes, which I considered a genius idea given what they were working with. On countless occasions, I recall watching the creature walk around despite its appendages never seeming to correctly interact with the ground on which it strode. It was severely painful and funny, all at the same time. Typically, I’d see how one could complain about this visual nightmare, but after having watched the more recent CAMEL SPIDERS, I’d venture to say that these guys actually delivered the better product.
The one place where I couldn’t give any credit at all was in the music department. It definitely could have used a bit of retooling. On several instances, I found the timing of some of the auditory beats to be off-putting from the horror of the film. Typically, good music will serve to elicit the desired response from a scene, but never should the viewing audience’s anticipation of fear be so horridly tempered/lessened by the score that it becomes a major point of concern. It happened frequently in this movie.
Don’t let this set you back, though, as THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION is one gem that greatly overcomes all of its faults.
I’ve heard some talk of there being a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode that deals with this film, but I’ve yet to see it. Either way, knowing the absurdities that transpire in the run of this film, I could only imagine what Mike and the gang had in store for it. Truly a piece of shit, b-movie horror fiasco of a film, it is truly deserving of its cult classic classification and worthy of your eyes for the hour and a half it’s story takes to unravel.
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