ⓘ Earth vs. the Spider

                                     

ⓘ Earth vs. the Spider

Earth vs. the Spider is an independently made 1958 American black-and-white science fiction/horror film produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon, who also wrote the story upon which the screenplay by George Worthing Yates and Laszlo Gorog was based. The film stars Ed Kemmer, June Kenney and Eugene Persson. The special effects were by Gordon and Paul Blaisdell. Earth vs. the Spider was released by American International Pictures as a double feature in different film markets with either The Brain Eaters or The Screaming Skull.

                                     

1. Plot

Jack Flynn is driving down a highway at night looking at a bracelet he has bought his daughter for her birthday, when he hits something and his vehicle crashes. The next morning, his teenage daughter Carol is concerned that her neer-do-well father did not come home the night before. She convinces her boyfriend Mike to assist in a search for her father. They find his crashed truck and the bracelet, but not his body. Thinking he crawled into a nearby cave, they investigate. In the cave, they fall onto the gigantic web of an enormous tarantula, which emerges from behind some rocks to attack them. They manage to escape and make it back to town.

Carol and Mike have a hard time convincing the sheriff about the giant spider, but with the help of their science teacher, Mr. Kingman, they return to the cave and find the missing mans body, drained of fluids. The spider attacks again, convincing the sheriff, who orders large amounts of DDT to kill the giant spider. The apparently lifeless body of the spider is taken back to town to the high school gym, where Kingman wants to study it. A group of teenagers uses the gym to practice rock and roll numbers they are going to play for a school dance. The music awakens the giant tarantula and it crashes through the wall of the gym. The janitor, stopping to call the sheriff, is killed.

The spider terrorizes the town, killing a number of people before it heads back to its cave. The sheriff and Kingman use dynamite to seal the spider in, but then discover Carol and Mike had gone into the cave to retrieve the bracelet her father had bought her. Kingman acquires a couple of large electrodes from the power company and runs cables to some power lines as the tarantula is descending on a strand of web to get at the trapped teenagers. Kingman and Mike use the electrodes to electrocute the spider, which falls, impaling itself on stalagmites at the bottom of the cave.

                                     

2. Cast

  • David Tomack as the power line foreman
  • Hal Torey as Mr. Simpson
  • June Kenney as Carol Flynn
  • Troy Patterson as Joe
  • Shirley Falls as switchboard operator
  • Hank Patterson as Hugo high school janitor
  • Ed Kemmer as Mr. Kingman
  • Bob Garnet as Springdale pest control man
  • Sally Fraser as Mrs. Helen Kingman
  • Skip Young as Sam the bass player
  • Merritt Stone as Jack Flynn Carols dad
  • June Jocelyn as Mrs. Flynn
  • Eugene Persson as Mike Simpson
  • Howard Wright as Jake
  • Nancy Kilgas as a dancer
  • George Stanley as one of the men in the cavern
  • Dick DAgostin as the pianist
  • Jack Kosslyn as Mr. Fraser camera club teacher
  • Bill Giorgio as Deputy Sheriff Sanders
  • Mickey Finn as Sam Haskel
  • Gene Roth as Sheriff Cagle
  • Bob Tetrick as Deputy Sheriff Dave
                                     

3. Production

The films original on-screen title was Earth vs. the Spider, but when The Fly also released in 1958 became a blockbuster, the title was shortened to just The Spider on all of the advertising material. The original screen title, however, was never changed, so the film is frequently referred to by the title Earth vs. the Spider.

The movie theater in which Mike works displays a film poster prominently advertising The Amazing Colossal Man, while the marquee shows that it is currently running Attack of the Puppet People, which happens to also star Kenney. Both of these films were also directed by Gordon. Attack of the Puppet People was the last film Gordon made for American International Pictures for a number of years, with the director claiming that the studio had not paid him appropriately. However, he returned to AIP in the 1970s.

Some of the cave interiors were filmed using stills from Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, with live action scenes filmed at Bronson Caves in Griffith Park near Los Angeles.

The films budget was $100.000.



                                     

4. Reception

Critical response for Earth vs. the Spider has been mixed. Bruce Eder from Allmovie gave the film a positive review, calling "the most consistently entertaining, if not the best of Bert I. Gordons various size-oriented fantasy-sci-fi films". However, Eder noted that the films special effects were dated.

                                     

5. In popular culture

This film was one of many films featured in the third season of the movie mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

A short clip of this film can be seen on one of the television sets in the 2002 Disney film Lilo & Stitch.

                                     
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