Scott Carey and his wife Louise are sunning themselves on their cabin cruiser, the small craft adrift on a calm sea. While his wife is below deck, a low mist passes over him. Scott, lying in the sun, is sprinkled with glittery particles that quickly evaporate. Later he is accidentally sprayed with an insecticide while driving and, in the next few days, he finds that he has begun to shrink. First just a few inches, so that his clothes no longer fit, then a little more. Soon he is only three feet tall, and a national curiosity. At six inches tall he can only live in a doll's house and even that becomes impossible when his cat breaks in. Scott flees to the cellar, his wife thinks he has been eaten by the cat and the door to the cellar is closed, trapping him in the littered room where, menaced by a giant spider, he struggles to survive. Written by
While the spider in the movie is clearly a tarantula, in Richard Matheson's book, on which this movie is based, the spider Scott Carey battles is a Black Widow. See more »
Even though the spider in this film is clearly a tarantula, the spider is shown sitting in a standard type spider web. Tarantulas do not build webs like that. They live in burrows or holes. See more »
A strange calm possessed me. I thought more clearly than I had ever thought before - as if my mind were bathed in a brilliant light. I recognized that part of my illness was rooted in hunger, and I remembered the food on the shelf, the cake thredded with spider web. I no longer felt hatred for the spider. Like myself it struggled blindly for the means to live.
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Along with "invasion of the body snatchers"(1956) "forbidden planet"(1956) and "the fly" (1958),the best movie sci-fi offered in the fifties.
Richard Matheson's remarkable novel was adapted by himself,thus the movie is an accurate rendition.Differences are kept to the minimum,and are probably due to censorship:one character,the pedophile,who wants to take the hero to his home has been removed and the relationship with Clarice remains platonic.Besides,Matheson focuses here on the second part of his novel,which takes place in the basement.
The special effects are absolutely stunning for the time ,but what's the most extraordinary is that they take a back seat to the hero's frames of mind:the voice-over is never redundant and Matheson's brilliant lines,a thousand miles above the B-movie level,perfectly convey his hero's plight."Arachnophobia"(1990),with a much more comfortable budget pales into insignificance when you've seen Grant Williams'fight with the spider.The doll house,the scenes with the midgets,the metaphysical final are as awesome today as they were half a century ago.Do not miss the cast and credits at the beginning either. During its second half,except for the voice-over,the movie is almost silent and Jack Arnold sustains the interest with only one character.
With its inexorable progression -the hero slowly becoming on his own-,its first-class screenplay and a fine direction by Jack Arnold,who could ask for a remake? This movie and the three I mention above are genuine classics,they have in common fears hidden in collective unconscious.
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