Director: Jack Arnold
Screenwriter: Robert M. Fresco, Martin Berkeley
Cast: John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll
Distributor: Scream Factory
Not Rated | 81 Minutes
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came From Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man), Tarantula! is a 1955 science-fiction monster movie about – you guessed it – a Big Ass Radioactive Spider™ lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.
Leo G. Carroll (Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest) stars as Gerald Deemer, a biochemist with a plan to feed the world by using a growth formula on plants and animals. Instead, he creates a Big Ass Radioactive Spider™ that feeds on the cattle, horse-ranchers, and hobos of Desert Rock, Arizona.
Joining Deemer on his quest to stop the eight-legged menace is John Agar (The Mole People, Attack of the Puppet People) as Dr. Matt Hastings, who proclaims “Give women the vote and what do you get? Lady scientists”; and Mara Corday (The Black Scorpion, The Giant Claw) as said Sexy Lady Scientist™ Stephanie “Steve” Clayton. Also appearing, a young Clint Eastwood – who got his start in Arnold’s 1955’s Revenge of the Creature – in an uncredited role as a jet squadron leader.
Following in the massive footsteps of Godzilla (1954) and Them! (1954), Tarantula! is a solid entry in the subgenre of Giant Insects Gone Wild™ flicks. Like the best sci-fi films of the Atomic Age, Arnold’s creature feature explores man’s uneasy relationship with science. What’s most interesting about this film – aside from the matte effects used to bring the monster to life – is that the big ol’ bug is a result of a well-intentioned scientist, rather than nuclear weapons or a mad megalomaniac.
As for this new Blu-ray release, Scream Factory has done an excellent job of restoring Arnold’s 1955 drive-in classic with a new 2K scan of the original film elements. The film looks and sounds great – as good as a low-budget movie about a hobo-eating Big Ass Radioactive Spider™ can look.
Also included is a new audio commentary with film historians Tom Weaver, Dr. Robert J. Kiss, and David Schecter, as well as a theatrical trailer and still gallery. While this release is a little light on bonus features, the new scan and audio commentary – not to mention the gorgeous cover art (pictured below) – are more than worth the price of admission.
If you’re a fan of monster movies and ’50s sci-fi flicks, this is a great grab – I give it two fangs up! [groan, sigh, tumbleweed blows by, giant spider spins me up in a cocoon and drags me away]
Tarantula! is now available at Amazon. For more reviews of Scream Factory releases, click here.