The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

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The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:06 pm

the old trailer, which may explain some of its success - all part of the good marketing - "There has never been a film like this before." The trailer shows what seems like an exciting monster pic, with pretty good scenes, or suggestion of such.
Oh, noooo..oooo..oo... Lo and Behold! it's
THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION ! with an all-star cast:

AND special guest star LESLIE PARRISH (Aaooga!) * Directed by BILL REBANE

It's Humongous! It's Unbelievable! It's Monstrous! Insane! Ludicrous! Bizarre! and... Timely?
That would explain its success. Yes, this was... a box-office success! You can laugh at it, sneer at it, berate it, make fun of it and even vomit in disgust at its sheer awfulness, but this was produced for about $300,000 and ended up grossing close to $20 million worldwide (probably about $15 million in the USA alone). It made the top 50 of the highest grossing films that year. Unbelievable!  

Also unbelievable are the FX: a meteor or something crashes in the backyard of a farmer (Easton) in rural Wisconsin. There are these circular coconut-like things all over the place; each contains... a spider. At first, we see regular-sized tarantulas crawling around; later, the spiders get bigger. The biggest one, the most infamous one, looks like a Volkswagon chassis with legs. Maybe because..that's what it is.
Steve Brodie & Barbara Hale are scientists snooping around the area. Hale's screams are rather grating; Brodie is not that bad of an actor, but is funny-looking for a leading man. Alan Hale Jr is the sheriff; his first line is "hi, lil' buddy!" Yes, this acknowledges his culturally iconic role in Gilligan's Island. That's hilarious! He spends most of the film in his office, answering the phone. Robert Easton, master of dialects, also had a hand in the script (because there was no completed script as filming began) and (and!) he contributed some story points, such at that back brace he wears. So, blame some of this on him, not just on ramrod Bill Rebane. And, poor Leslie Parrish; she should have been in A-list pictures at this time, being romanced by Warren Beatty or Ryan O'Neal. Instead, she's in the small role of dissatisfied wife to Easton's idiot hick and ends up in a spider's web.
The pace is pretty slow for a picture of this sort and it's very low budget even by the standards of typical 'big bug' eco-terror movies of the seventies. However, these are spiders from outer space. Rebane does employ a quirky technique: he inserts footage of a local fire-and-brimstone preacher spouting ominous pronouncements about locusts in-between a few tense action scenes, suggesting an impending apocalypse. I wish it worked better, instead of being off-kilter and just annoying. This does pick up a bit around the midway point, but I prefer Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) myself.
BoG's Score: 4 out of 10. Rebane did go through a lot of hassle to get this made and his determination paid off. This began his film empire and he went on to a, uh, not-so-prolific career of such huge films like The Alpha Incident (1978).

The DVD from Retromedia had a miniature comic book inserted inside. There was also a 2-disc special DVD released a couple of years ago as a 30th anniversary edition, directly from Rebane and Silver Street International in Wisconsin. Besides an audio commentary from Rebane, this has featurettes such as Rebane visiting the resting site of "the big one" (the spider) at a junkyard. There are also rare behind-the-scenes stills. This was, and is, a big deal in Wisconsin, I gather. The film was also episode #810 on Mystery Science Theater 3000; why am I not surprised?

Personally, I think the unofficial remake to this is Eight-Legged Freaks (2002), which had a bigger budget and those slick 'puter FX. Here's the full SPIDER INVASION:

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