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Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977)

An airplane carring coffee beans from South America has some unpleasant stowaways: a hoard of tarantulas which overcome the pilots as the airplane is flying over an orange-producing town in... See full summary »


Stuart Hagmann
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claude Akins ... Bert Springer
Charles Frank ... Joe Harmon
Deborah Winters ... Cindy Beck
Bert Remsen ... Mayor Douglas
Sandy McPeak ... Chief Beasley
Pat Hingle ... Doc Hodgins
Tom Atkins ... Buddy
Howard Hesseman ... Fred
John Harkins ... Sylvan
Charles Siebert ... Rich Finley
Penelope Windust ... Gloria Beasley
Edwin Owens Edwin Owens ... Frank
Alex Colon ... Hector
Lanny Horn Lanny Horn ... Harry Weed
Jerome Guardino ... H.L. Williams


An airplane carring coffee beans from South America has some unpleasant stowaways: a hoard of tarantulas which overcome the pilots as the airplane is flying over an orange-producing town in California. The airplane crashes, and the unlucky inhabitants of the town release the poisonous spiders into their midst. Once the town's officials discover that the tarantulas are responsible for several deaths, the tarantulas have already descended upon the town's only orange-processing factory. The town's citizens risk their lives to remove the tarantulas from the factory while the poisonous pests are rendered motionless by the transmitted sound of buzzing bees. Written by Kevin McCorry <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Terror and death sweep through a defenseless town! See more »


Horror | Thriller







Release Date:

28 December 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tarantulas See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo is a TV-Movie, but was released theatrically in Mexico. See more »


When the gasoline can is dropped on the power lines, shortening them out, the electric overhead doors close. The door is operated by an electric gear reduction motor which is electrically shut off when it reaches the top or bottom. It's impossible for it to drop due to a power failure. See more »


Cindy Beck: Doc thinks maybe a dangerous spider was on the plane!
Matthew Beck: Well I saw a big one right near the plane crash!
See more »


Featured in Svengoolie: Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

Two acts out of three ain't bad, plus cuties Deborah Winters & Noelle North
4 July 2017 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

Released to TV 1977 and directed by Stuart Hagmann, "Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo" stars Deborah Winters, Charles Frank (her fiancé) and Claude Akins as citizens of a small orange-producing town in Southern California who have to deal with an invasion of deadly banana spiders, which are unleashed when a cargo plane from Ecuador crash lands in the fields. Pat Hingle plays the doctor, Bert Remsen the mayor and Sandy McPeak the police chief. Howard Hesseman & Tom Atkins appear in the opening act as pilots of the doomed plane. Cutie Noelle North is also on hand.

I'm sure the filmmakers used tarantulas in replace of the similar-looking banana Spider (aka phoneutria or armed spiders), but they're close enough and, besides, this was the pre-CGI era and the producers had no other choice.

In any case, the first hour or so is surprisingly good, considering this is a TV-budgeted nature-runs-amok flick. The cinematography features numerous aerial shots of the shooting area, which is in the semi-arid sticks 20-25 miles NW of Los Angeles. Claude Akins is surprisingly effective as one of the protagonists while Deborah Winters and Noelle North shine on the female front, both in form-fitting jeans from beginning to end. While Noelle's character may seem to be around 16 she was actually 27 during filming. The movie works as a 70's period piece, showcasing a nice cross-selection of the demographics & styles of any Southern California town of that era. Also, there's a nigh-shocking death scene considering this was made in the mid-70s, which I wasn't expecting in a TV flick.

Unfortunately, the last act that revolves around extinguishing the spiders at an orange factory is decidedly dull compared to the first two acts. This portion is packed with filler to complete the overlong runtime. But at least Winters & North are there to somewhat hold the male viewer's attention, lol.

The film runs 95 minutes and was shot in Piru & Moorpark, California. WRITERS: Guerdon Trueblood & John Groves.

GRADE: C+ (5.5/10)

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