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Earth vs. the Spider (1958).

March 3, 2009

The Scoop:
Run away!

Well, okay, first off… the title’s a little misleading. The giant spider doesn’t actually take on the whole world, just a few rubes from a small town. And then, all it does is come out of its cave, sit on a house, then get electrocuted in what amounts to little more than a high school science class demonstration.

This is among the worst of the ’50s big bug movies — yet another Bert I. Gordon creation in which something grows too big for its own good. But there is something endearing about “Earth vs. the Spider,” mostly in the dead earnestness of everyone involved with the film as they go about their silly business.

Gordon, who directed and gets story credit, made this sort of fare his bread and butter in the ’50s. The script was provided by Laszlo Gorog and George Worthing Yates, and the cast is led by Ed Kemmer (as high school science teacher Art Kingman, our square-jawed hero), June Kenney and Gene Persson (and the bland teenage couple) and Gene Roth (as the obligatory crusty sheriff). The crappy rear projection visual effects are credited to Gordon and his wife Flora.

“Earth vs. the Spider” is a pretty definitive example of the genre, and certainly enjoyable when you approach it in the right frame of mind.

This was remade in 2001 as part of the Cinemax “Creature Features” series, which included modernizing “reimaginings” of several classic ’50s B-movies. While it was competently executed (and even starred Dan Aykroyd and Theresa Russell), the story was completely changed and it just doesn’t have the same spirit as the original.

Best Line:
“Usually, if nature produces a freak, it dies immediately.”

Side Note:
If you look closely at the set decoration, you’ll spot movie posters for two other Gordon masterpieces, “The Amazing Colossal Man” and “Attack of the Puppet People.” Also on hand is the first issue of Forrest J. Ackerman’s “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” the magazine that became the sci-fi/horror bible of movie fans in the ’50s and ’60s.

Companion Viewing:
“The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957) and “Bug Buster” (1996).

Links:
IMDb.
Music From the Monster Movies, 1950-69.
1,000 Misspent Hours.
Daddy-O’s Drive-In Dirt.
The Monster Shack.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

The spider hates those darn kids today and their crazy rock ‘n’ roll music!

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