Earth vs. the Spider
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|Earth vs. the Spider|
Theatrical release poster
by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Bert I. Gordon|
|Produced by||Bert I. Gordon|
George Worthing Yates
|Music by||Albert Glasser|
|Cinematography||Jack A. Marta|
|Edited by||Walter E. Keller|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Earth vs. the Spider (a.k.a. The Spider and Earth vs. the Giant 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.
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 ne'er-do-well father did not come home last night. 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 man's 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 powerlines 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.
- Ed Kemmer as Mr. Kingman
- June Kenney as Carol Flynn
- Eugene Persson as Mike Simpson
- Gene Roth as Sheriff Cagle
- Hal Torey as Mr. Simpson
- June Jocelyn as Mrs. Flynn
- Mickey Finn as Sam Haskel
- Sally Fraser as Mrs. Helen Kingman
- Troy Patterson as Joe
- Skip Young as Sam (the bass player)
- Howard Wright as Jake
- Bill Giorgio as Deputy Sheriff Sanders
- Hank Patterson as Hugo (high school janitor)
- Jack Kosslyn as Mr. Fraser (camera club teacher)
- Bob Garnet as Springdale pest control man
- Shirley Falls as switchboard operator
- Bob Tetrick as Deputy Sheriff Dave
- Nancy Kilgas as a dancer
- George Stanley as one of the men in the cavern
- David Tomack as the power line foreman
- Merritt Stone as Jack Flynn (Carol's dad)
- Dick D'Agostin as the pianist
The film's 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 film's budget was $100,000.
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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. Gordon's various size-oriented fantasy-sci-fi films". However, Eder noted that the film's special effects were dated.
- McGee, Mark Thomas (1996). Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures (illustrated, revised ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 117. ISBN 9780786401376. OCLC 33207391. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
- Arkoff, Samuel Z.; Trubo, Richard (July 1, 1992). Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants: From the Man Who Brought You I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Muscle Beach Party (illustrated ed.). Secaucus, New Jersey, USA: Carol Publishing Group. p. 213. ISBN 9781559721073. OCLC 25372204. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
- Eder, Bruce. "Earth vs. the Spider (1958) - Bert E. Gordon". AllMovie.com. Bruce Eder. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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