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The Spider (1958)

Earth vs the Spider (original title)
Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | September 1958 (USA)
Teenagers from a rural community and their high school science teacher join forces to battle a giant mutant spider.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay) (as Laszlo Gorog), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Kemmer ...
Professor Art Kingman
...
Eugene Persson ...
Mike Simpson (as Gene Persson)
Gene Roth ...
Hal Torey ...
June Jocelyn ...
...
...
Troy Patterson ...
Joe
...
Sam the Bass Player
Howard Wright ...
Bill Giorgio ...
Deputy Sheriff Pete Sanders
...
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:

The Spider will eat you alive! 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:

The Spider  »

Company Credits

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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 exterminators lay down a spray of 50 percent DDT to flood the entire cavern, yet only bring enough gas masks for half the people in the cave. See more »

Quotes

Sheriff Cagle: [to a deputy after finding a desiccated body in a cave] Uh, you get back to town and make up a coroner's report. Just put down Jack Flynn as the name and the cause of death... uh...
Mr. Kingman: It was a spider drained all the liquid out of his body.
Sheriff Cagle: [Officiously] Just put down "cause unknown" and let the coroner worry about the rest. That's the trouble with you eggheads - you jump to conclusions! I know what I see and I see a dead man, but, uh, I don't see any spider.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Chilling AIP programmer which succeeds in investing its proceedings with a definite air of spookiness.
16 August 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

When EARTH VS. THE SPIDER crawled onto theatre screens nationwide in 1958 and first appeared on television in 1963 it was under the title THE SPIDER. Thus its current label is somewhat of an enigma. Perhaps the additional prefix of EARTH VS. was part of its original intended title (with actual prints struck as such) but was deemed too ambitious for what actually transpires in the movie. Possibly because of this title's similarity to the Ray Harryhausen epic EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (released a few years earlier) it was feared to be an infringement on the Harryhausen work (or it could be mistaken as a re-release of same) and was shortened to the more appropriate THE SPIDER.

EARTH VS. THE SPIDER has the handicap of being a steal of Jack Arnold's TARANTULA (1955) and like all giant mutation films of the 1950's following in the wake of the 1954 sci-fi masterpiece THEM! (trying to emulate its distinctive qualities and commercial success) but taken on its own terms it successfully establishes its own eerie atmosphere and excitement that makes it popular today.

Comparison with TARANTULA is unavoidable but while both films utilize an actual tarantula spider (for practical purposes) EARTH VS. THE SPIDER usually manipulates the title protagonist in confined, claustrophobic surroundings when pursuing its intended prey to great effect (the expansive yet enclosed underground caverns, the high school gymnasium and the climatic confrontation on the cavern ledge, etc.). Further this monster also spins a web (unlike the title menace in TARANTULA) and a great deal of suspense and tension is achieved as nosey intruders are caught in it while the wailing bellow of the approaching creature is heard.

The giant spider's cave sanctuary is as much a character as the spider itself and it engenders a tremendous sense of foreboding and dread as the two teenagers and later as the town sheriff, his deputies and some townspeople approach and enter it (the mood is beautifully underscored by Albert Glasser's ominous background music).

In comparison to the technical virtuosity of THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD released the same year (or any Harryhausen film of the period) the special effects in EARTH VS. THE SPIDER are thin beer indeed but adequate. These effects include rear projection, split screens, superimposures, miniatures and forced perspective utilizing photographic plates of famed Carlsbad Caverns. At the film's suspenseful finale there appears to be an unheralded moment of stop motion animation of the giant spider dangling along a precipice and the closing image of the dead creature impaled on stalagmite on the cavern floor (actually a painting) is quite impressive.

All told EARTH VS. THE SPIDER is a film well worth looking into.


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