Tarantula (1955)

Matt Hastings (John Agar) is a doctor on a mission. After being refused an autopsy on a highly unusual corpse by the sheriff, Dr. Hastings is determined to figure out what caused the corpse’s apparent sudden acromegaly.

tarantula1
(Image via Horrorpedia)

Hastings calls on Dr. Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll), who had a hand in refusing the autopsy. As it turns out, Deemer knows there’s something odd going on. He and Hastings both knew the dead man, and Deemer saw his acromegaly develop over a matter of days, when usually it would take years to advance to such a state.

It becomes even more clear that something strange is going on when an assailant nearly burns down Deemer’s lab — letting a dog-sized tarantula free in the process.

Tarantula was directed by Jack Arnold. The screenplay was written by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley from a story by Arnold and Fresco.

This was my final viewing from the Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection set, and what a way to end it! Secretive labs, experiments, enormous critters, mutating humans… this film’s got it all. It’s everything that makes the sci-fi genre fun.

I fell more in love with this wacky film the more I watched it. The science here is based in the fear of overpopulation and food shortages — a very real issue that will continue to complicate human life. The year 2000 is mentioned as a potential point of unsustainability!

I watched this on a late night just before going to sleep and thought that may have been a terrible idea given my existing fear of spiders. Luckily, the beast here is large but so slow-moving that I wasn’t quite as scared of it as expected. The spider may be as big as a house, but the movie is pure sci-fi fun rather than a terror.

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(Image via Horror and Sons)

Tarantula is a movie about a huge but not-too-scary spider (that has to be taken out with napalm). Though its commentary is fascinating and pretty timeless, I liked that it didn’t try too hard to be super-thinky. It embraces it silliness and its giant creatures, while still offering up a plausibly terrible future for the Earth. Recommended.

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