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Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1967)

Unrated | | Comedy, Horror | 24 December 1967 (USA)
A caretaker devotes himself to three demented siblings after their father's death.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Bruno (as Lon Chaney)
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Peter Howe (as Quinn Redeker)
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Jill Banner ...
...
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Ann Morris
Karl Schanzer ...
Mr. Schlocker
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Messenger
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Storyline

In a dilapidated rural mansion, the last generation of the degenerate, inbred Merrye family lives with the inherited curse of a disease that causes them to mentally regress from the age of 10 or so on as they physically develop. The family chauffeur looks out for them and covers up their indiscretions. Trouble comes when greedy distant relatives and their lawyer arrive to dispossess the family of its home. Written by D.A. Kellough <dkelloug@infinet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Not for people who faint easily! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Language:

Release Date:

24 December 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cannibal Orgy, or The Maddest Story Ever Told  »

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The rocking chair that Virginia ties Peter to as she plays her spider game was an antique that belonged to director Jack Hill's grandmother. It was destroyed during filming. See more »

Goofs

The architecture of the Merrye house makes no logical sense; the actual layout of the rooms and floors as they relate to each other is impossible, something director Jack Hill later admitted. See more »

Quotes

Schlocker: This has gone well beyond the boundaries of prudence and good taste.
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Crazy Credits

As the film ends, "THE END" appears on the screen, then suddenly changes to "THE END ?". See more »

Connections

References Dracula (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Spider Baby Theme
(uncredited)
Written by Ronald Stein
Performed by Lon Chaney Jr.
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Creepy, funny, irregular, occasionally brilliant
25 November 2004 | by (Tucson, Arizona) – See all my reviews

At one point in this movie, Virginia (Jill Banner), the "Spider Baby" of the title, grabs a spider from the table and pops it into her mouth. Her sister Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) quips, "Spiders don't eat spiders."

"Cannibal spiders do," retorts Virginia, and this scene sums up everything good about Spider Baby: twisted, funny, and possessing an internal logic that pretty much justifies anything it does, no matter how preposterous.

Originally funded by two real estate developers and locked away for years after a bankruptcy filing, Spider Baby hit the drive-in circuit, made its modest sum of money, and faded away--almost. Somewhere down the line, it developed a cult status despite only being available on low-quality, grainy video. It is now available on DVD in a restored cut that reveals strikingly beautiful black-and-white cinematography. Low-budget it may be, but it's gorgeous to look at.

Lon Chaney Jr. stars as a butler taking care of his deceased employer's children (Washburn, Banner and Sid Haig). The siblings suffer from a hereditary disease that leaves them intellectually childlike but also makes them casual murderers, a problem compounded when distant cousins (Quinn Redeker and the stunning Carol Ohmart) arrive with designs on taking over the estate. The plot is simple and the movie is short (only 81 minutes), but it wastes no time and delivers plenty of creepy thrills, among them cannibalism, implied necrophilia, and midnight chases through the woods.

The acting is a pleasant surprise as well. The entire cast does a convincing job of bringing these oddball characters to life. There are a few missteps here and there: a couple of moments, for instance, when Redeker addresses the audience directly, and it's hard to know if the humor is intentional or not. Overall, however, the quality of each performance is pretty high. Especially touching is a scene where Chaney's character realizes there will be no good end to the situation, and his obvious affection for these mad but dangerous children actually brings a tear to the eye.

Well worth checking out if you're into horror, grim humor, or very, very odd movies.


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