From the video case:
Biochemist Leo G. Carroll has a plan to feed the world by using a growth formula on plants and animals. But instead he creates a spider of mammoth proportions with an appetite to match!
Feeding off cattle and humans, this towering tarantula has the people of Desert Rock, Arizona, running for their lives. Can this horrible creature be stopped? Or will the world succumb to this over-sized arachnid? Starring John Agar as the good doctor and Mara Corday as a student, and potential victim, of this science experiment gone awry! (1955, b&w)
I’ve always been a sucker for big bug flicks, and this is one of my favorites. Strong direction by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man) is enhanced by the B-movie star power of John Agar (Invisible Invaders, The Brain from Planet Arous), Mara Corday (The Black Scorpion), and Leo G. Carroll who plays crotchety Prof. Gerald Deemer.
John Agar is at his best as Dr. Matt Hastings, a young country doc trying to unravel the bizarre happenings in his small desert community. Mara Corday plays Stephanie ‘Steve’ Clayton, an aspiring scientist and love interest for Dr. Hastings. This is my favorite role for Mara Corday. She plays the part with sophistication and charm, and can scream with the best of them.
You may also recognize B-movie regular Hank Patterson (Monster on the Campus, Beginning of the End) as Josh, the hotel clerk. I always remember him as Fred Ziffel from the tv series Green Acres. He is used primarily as comedy relief in this picture.
Of course, the main draw of the film is the giant tarantula created by Clifford Stine (The Deadly Mantis). I’m still impressed with the special effects of Tarantula. The giant arachnid is effectively creepy and menacing, and quite convincing even by today’s standards. The scene where it emerges from the dynamite blast is one of my favorite B-movie scenes of all-time.
This is the best giant bug movie since Them! Highly recommended.
Scene to watch for: John Agar, in an attempt to identify the pool of spider venom, puts the tarantula goo on his tongue. Yeeach.
Line to listen for: “I knew it would happen. Give women the vote and what do you get? Lady scientists.”
Trivia: That’s Clint Eastwood as the leader of the jet squadron at the climax of the film.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.