The Giant Spider Invasion

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The Giant Spider Invasion
Giantspiderinvasion.jpg
Directed by Bill Rebane
Produced by William W. Gillett Jr.
Richard L. Huff
Bill Rebane
Written by Robert Easton
Richard L. Huff
Starring Steve Brodie
Robert Easton
Barbara Hale
Alan Hale Jr.
Christiane Schmidtmer
Music by Bill Rebane
Cinematography Jack Willoughby
Edited by Barbara Pokras
Distributed by Group 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd.
Release date(s) October 24, 1975
Running time 84 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300,000 (estimate)

The Giant Spider Invasion is a low-budget 1975 film produced by Transcentury Pictures, a partnership owned by the film's director Bill Rebane. The film is about giant spiders that terrorize the town of Merrill, Wisconsin and the surrounding area. The Giant Spider Invasion was given a U.S. release in theaters in 1975, and was distributed by Group 1 Films. The iconic theatrical poster art was a throwback to the giant monster movies of the 1950s. The film received a considerable theatrical run and became one of the fifty top grossing films of that year. After a three time ABC television network run, the movie achieved additional exposure many years later, when it was featured in a 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) (season 8, episode 10). It is now regarded as a cult classic in the B movie realm. The film is listed on 'The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made' in the book The Official Razzie Movie Guide by Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson.[1]

The film gives major roles to some actors who might have been considered "has-beens" at the time. The leads were Steve Brodie and Barbara Hale, with other roles going to Alan Hale, Jr. and Leslie Parrish. The film's one "Giant Spider" was constructed by covering a Volkswagen automobile with artificial black fur, with the fake legs operated from the inside by seven members of the crew. The back of the car was the front of the monster, and its red tail lights served as the monster's glowing eyes. A few other "giant spiders" were puppets representing spiders as large as dogs.

Plot[edit]

The central plot of the film revolves around the titular spider invasion, which occurs when what appears to be a meteorite crashes down in rural Wisconsin, and spawns spiders of varying sizes.

Subplots include:

  • Dan Kester and his hate/hate relationship with his wife, Ev
  • Dan's adulterous affair with local barmaid Helga
  • Dave Perkins' attempts to make out with Ev's underaged sister Terry
  • A fundamentalist preacher leading a revival meeting
  • Drs. Vance and Langer getting involved in somewhat of a romance (all the more notable as the two lead actors were also in their early-mid 50s when the movie was made)
  • The eventual panic that results when the townspeople are confronted with the spider

The invasion is deduced (with various scientific-sounding language) to be the result of some sort of interdimensional gateway, and is ultimately thwarted when Drs. Vance and Langer manage to close off the gateway, draining the spiders of their energy and causing them to melt into puddles of disgusting sludge.

Cast[edit]

Despite the film's B-movie status, it does feature a cast that, if not exactly a "star-studded" one, contains members that are at least familiar to most North American TV and film viewers of the period:

Director[edit]

Director Bill Rebane had a festival given in his honor; the "Bill Rebane Film Festival" took place in Madison, Wisconsin in May 2005. Hosting the festival were MST3K stars Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy. In an article recapping the festival in Scary Monsters Magazine, the two noted that although they lambasted the film during their show, they admired how Rebane was able to pull cast and crew together to get the film made.

Picture[edit]

  • At the beginning, a pilot can be heard talking about the giant spider he has seen. That person is David Hoff, an actual pilot in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
  • The television control room sequence was shot after sign-off at WAOW-TV, Wausau, Wisconsin. Instead of post production (green-screen) insertion of the screen images, live displays were used. The flying saucer was a provided by the lead producer (name unknown) made with such materials as a paperplate overexposed. The electronic equipment was operated by Ralph Reinhold.
  • The planetarium sequence was shot in the Astronomy Department at UW-Stevens Point.

Home releases[edit]

A VHS release of the film in the mid-1980s was distributed by Media Home Entertainment. The MST3K version was released by Rhino Home Video, as part of the Collection, Volume 10 and Collection, Volume 10.2 box sets. The film has also become available on DVD as part of a two-disc "deluxe" version from Silver Street Pictures and Synergy Entertainment which includes some additional materials, such as audio commentary and an interview with director Bill Rebane.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 

External links[edit]