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Earth vs the Spider (1958)

 -  Horror | Sci-Fi  -  September 1958 (USA)
3.9
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Ratings: 3.9/10 from 1,716 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 32 critic

Teenagers from a rural community and their high school science teacher join forces to battle a giant mutant spider.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Kemmer ...
Professor Art Kingman
June Kenney ...
Eugene Persson ...
Mike Simpson (as Gene Persson)
Gene Roth ...
Hal Torey ...
June Jocelyn ...
Mickey Finn ...
Sally Fraser ...
Troy Patterson ...
Joe
Skip Young ...
Sam the Bass Player
Howard Wright ...
Bill Giorgio ...
Deputy Sheriff Pete Sanders
Hank Patterson ...
Hugo the Janitor
Jack Kosslyn ...
Bob Garnet ...
Pest Control Man
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Storyline

When a man doesn't come home one night his daughter and her boyfriend go out searching and encounter a giant spider in a cave near the man's wrecked car. Coming back with the Sheriff, the spider is seemingly killed by DDT spraying, and the body then hauled for storage in the high school gymnasium. However, a loud dose of rock music by a teenage garage band revives the arachnid and sends it rampaging through the town. Written by Jeremy Lunt <durlinlunt@acadia.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It Must Eat You to Live! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Earth vs the Spider  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Ryder Sound Services)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was filmed as "The Spider". Prior to completion, the title was changed to "Earth vs. The Spider" and that was used for the main title on the film itself. When The Fly (1958) became a blockbuster for 20th Century Fox, American International decided to ride on their success by changing the title back to simply "The Spider" on all advertising material. The main title on the film itself was never changed. See more »

Goofs

The so-called teenagers look more like post-graduate students than high schoolers. Skip Young, who was also a regular on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," was 28 and Tony Patterson, who played "Joe," was 35 years old. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Kingman: Well, speaking of spiders - are you sure rifles are just the thing? Insects have a pretty simple nervous system, sheriff. You could plug holes in one all day and never hit a vital spot. If you want to be on the safe side, call the pest control people in Springdale and have 'em send out all the DDT they can find.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Eight Legged Freaks (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rock 'n Roll versus the creature - a wonderfully amusing entry into the vintage horror pantheon
5 April 2009 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

There are few film genres which can evoke such a wonderful sense of vintage entertainment as classic monster horror films. Whether perused in more depth to explore resonant themes and cultural tie-ins or simply taken at face value for comically poor dated special effects and pulpy entertainment, the particular cocktail of entertainment offered by almost any given similar film from the era is unlikely to disappoint - and Earth vs. the Spider is no exception. Despite a somewhat misleading title (then again, 'Small Rural American Town vs. the Spider' does lose some dramatic flair), the film's small, self-contained scope proves to be its greatest advantage, with few more profound aims than to entertain, and, despite whatever other faults, almost unwavering dedication to that front.

While firmly ensconced in genre conventions, the film's tongue in cheek tone promotes such a wholesome sense of enjoyment that such clichés feel warmly familiar rather than suffocatingly so. Like many of its contemporaries, the film explores notions of adults versus teenagers (one particularly comical yet chilling scene has the titular creature awoken by a rock 'n roll song and dance interlude) and science versus good old fashioned American values, though the film is politically correct to not outright condemn scientists as nonsensical lunatics as many other such films do. Similarly, the much alluded to cause for the spider's abnormal growth is crucially never discovered, feeding into cultural notions of post-war nuclear paranoia. However, the film boasts surprisingly strong production values (the spider's cave is a wonderfully grotesque setting) and above par special effects given its inevitably low budget, and again manages to bend convention to its advantage through use of an eerie theremin score, giving it a sturdy enough veneer to make for a surprisingly entertaining 73 minutes.

Despite the cast's typically universally flat performances failing to infuse much life into the shoddy script, one would hardly peruse such fare for the acting, making the cast's lackluster efforts endearingly amusing. Ed Kemmer interestingly melds the 'scientist voice of reason' and 'charismatic protagonist' figures into a single character, and feels all the more fresh and appealing because of it. June Kenney is often embarrassingly and comically melodramatic as a teen mourning her missing father, and Eugene Persson counterbalances her overacting with a dull, unenthusiastic performance as her earnest, "gee whiz" boyfriend. Gene Roth delivers many an (intentionally) comical moment as the town's ineffective sheriff, who also intriguingly shifts roles into a voice of reason figure later on.

Despite a slew of expected faults given its genre, Earth vs. the Spider is never less than supremely entertaining, making for a wonderful comedy (intentionally or not) and easily worth investigating for any fans of classic horror, or those willing to derive amusement from envisioning how frightening it must have been to 1958 audiences, or simply ridiculing it throughout.

-5/10


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