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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:

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:

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

Paul Blaisdell had created a small makeup appliance ("about the size and weight of a postage stamp") meant to go on the live tarantula's back to make it look like it had "eerie, catlike" eyes, but this was never used. See more »

Goofs

The spider awakens and scares the kids at the band practice in the school. The drummer looks up in horror and flees his drum kit. In the following wide shot , the drummer is back to playing his drums again. See more »

Quotes

Mike Simpson: Suddenly I feel hungry.
Carol Flynn: Me too.
Mike Simpson: Hey I just remembered, I've got a candy bar with me!
See more »

Connections

Edited into Attack of the 50 Foot Monster Mania (1999) 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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