Tarantula (1955)

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Tarantula (1955)

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:28 pm

Take heed, take heed... a scientist named Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) invents a serum to stimulate tissue growth via glandular activity; his lab is in the middle of the desert. Of course, his tests are on lab animals - one of these is a tarantula. It doesn't work well on humans - Deemer's assistant is proof of this; humans just get deformed and insane - and then die. When I first watched this, it was this affect on humans that really creeped me out, not the giant arachnid. Mara Corday plays Deemer's new assistant - she gets stuck in a worsening nightmarish situation: Deemer gradually gets sick and twisted, while the giant spider eventually returns to its place of rebirth... can John Agar save her..?
I last watched this again as  part of a recently-released DVD set: The CLASSIC SCI-FI ULTIMATE COLLECTION from Universal. I'd have to give the edge to THEM! as far as the best giant bug movie of the fifties - THEM! expanded in its 2nd half into a threat of worldwide proportions and there just seemed to be a lot more going on (also, James Whitmore is one of the best actors around, period, and Agar is just pretty good). But, TARANTULA may very well be the 2nd best of that decade. Directed by Jack Arnold, who did a few of the best of these in the fifties.
I will mention that this film has at least one truly great scene: at about the 70-minute mark, after the great beastie destroys Deemer's house and pursues the characters played by Agar & Corday, who flee in an automobile. There's a very short pause in the action as Agar & Corday meet the approaching Sheriff's dept. on the road, in the middle of the desert. Then, the huge Tarantula appears from behind a hill in the distance. "Jumpin' Jupiter!" the Sheriff exclaims, clearly astounded. The Tarantula just sits there for a few moments, as if surveying the entire valley (its menu), a giant black beast perched on top of a hill. The Sheriff, his deputies, Agar & Corday just stare up in awe for a moment. The music is great here and it's a fantastic few moments.
BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

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