The most unbelievable thing about The Giant Spider Invasion is that it's one of the fifty top grossing movies of 1975. All I can think is that the poster was pretty awesome and there was some serious nostalgia for the giant bug movies of the 1950's going on.
Watching this film killed any plans I had to have a Bill Rebane film festival, though. There are moments of hilarity and that giant spider is... well, it's something. I just don't think I can devote that much of my life to a series of films with this level of acting, cinematography, writing and effects. I have other things to do - like paint the trim on my house or rake pine needles.
|And clear the spiders off the roof.|
I will have to see his The Capture of Bigfoot at some point, as I have previously unspoken (even to myself, *sob*) desire to see all the Bigfoot-themed movies of the 1970's. This, despite the fact that Troma studio head Lloyd Kaufmen calls it one of the 5 worst films Troma ever distributed.
Currently streaming on Shudder. It's an incredibly poor copy of the film, but I'm honestly not sure how a clearer picture would have improved things. (Holy crap you guys - there's a Blu-ray release of this movie. All I can do is wonder at the fact that there's a Blu-ray of this, but none of Alligator or It's Alive!) (In the US anyway.)
The Giant Spider Invasion starts of like a ton of 50's sci-fi movies did, with a mysterious light in the sky and something that crashes on the property of a local farmer. This farmer, Kester, is the most reprehensible sonova bitch - stepping out on his wife and leering after his step-daughter. He's an entertaining asshole, though, I'll give him that much.
|"Not the first body I've had to hide. Hey, wonder what's in his wallet..."|
Meanwhile, NASA sends a scientist, Dr. Vance, to coordinate with local astronomer, Dr. Langer., in order to find whatever crashed. They're both played by veteran TV and film actors and their straightforward and earnest delivery of lines makes those lines even more ridiculous. (One of my favorites is probably unintentionally funny - after an extended sexist sequence where Vance keeps asking to see Langer's husband, brother or son, not expecting her to be the astronomer, she introduces him to her staff as "Mr. Vance." Sick burn, Doctor L.! You know he didn't get that Doctorate just to be called "Mr."!)
|"That really hurt my feelings."|
"You have feelings?"
Of course Kester and his wife, Ev - who obviously hate each other - have found the crash site. It's surrounded by geodes. Kester brings some back to the farm and manages to split one open. Unfortunately for everyone he doesn't see the spider that escapes from it. That's only the first and soon the farm and surrounds are infested with spiders (they're all live tarantulas at this point). In one horrifying sequence we see Ev mix up a drink using a blender containing a spider. It's nausea inducing.
|"You brought a shovel to the kitchen table. This is why I drink."|
Around these two storylines are some things with the sheriff (Gilligan's Island vet Alan Hale Jr. - forced by the script to utter "Hey little buddy!" in his first appearance) and a local reporter.
Finally Ev must deal with the spiders when a furry muppet attacks her from a dresser drawer. She does her best to sell this as a real spider, but... come on. This thing quickly grows in size and before you know it is almost as large as a house - threatening Ev's daughter (just like almost every male character in the film) and destroying the farm before moving off to be in a parade somewhere.
|Later the Shriners will jump over it in miniature cars.|
I'll give the film this - the giant spider is damn entertaining to watch. It's not scary or threatening in any way, but it is hilarious and they managed to get the legs moving in a semi-realistic fashion. The bits where it swallows people whole are a bit less believable.
|Their expressions before it does so are pure gold, however.|
The two scientists wander around for a bit and have a budding romance and eventually figure out that a black hole is causing some kind of interdimensional gateway (instead of, you know, simply sucking all matter into it and causing the destruction of the Earth). They manage to close it and all the extra-dimensional spiders turn to goo.
Wow. So, I'm not going to lie - I started to drift off during this movie, so I didn't pay as much attention as I should have. There are things I enjoyed - the level of cheese is so high that you can't help but get carried along in some spots. The dialogue is often unintentionally hilarious, the hate/hate relationship with Kester and Ev is also entertaining, and that giant spider thing is always fun to watch. The production quality is pretty terrible, however, as is the cinematography, music, acting, editing effects... And the subplot about guys lusting after Ev's daughter is creepier than anything going on with the spiders (except that blender sequence).
|Least exploitative shot of Terry in the entire movie.|
In some ways this reminded me of films by Don Dohler, like The Alien Factor and Nightbeast (which I watched for the very first 31 Days). The pure incompetence makes you root for the film and moves it - occasionally - into 'so bad it's good' territory.
The Bottom Line
Well, The Giant Spider Invasion is something I've seen now. At some point I'll have to watch the MST3K episode that features it. I have a feeling I'll enjoy it a lot more than the original. If you have to see a spider-themed movie from the 1970's I highly recommend the Shatneriffic Kingdom of the Spiders instead.