The Giant Spider Invasion
|The Giant Spider Invasion|
|Directed by||Bill Rebane|
|Produced by||William W. Gillett Jr.|
Richard L. Huff
|Written by||Robert Easton|
Richard L. Huff
Alan Hale Jr.
|Music by||Bill Rebane|
|Edited by||Barbara Pokras|
|Distributed by||Group 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd.|
|Box office||$15 million|
The Giant Spider Invasion is a 1975 science fiction horror film directed by 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 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. It is now regarded as a cult classic in the B movie realm.
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, while full-grown tarantulas were used as spider hatchlings.
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.
- 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.
The Giant Spider Invasion directed by Bill Rebane and was filmed without a script. Originally conceived as an idea from Richard Huff, he and actor Robert Easton, a friend of Rebane, were tasked to write the script. By the time filming began, creative differences led to a script not being made and only pages of dialogue were written. To motive Easton, who was told to write ten to fifteen pages a day, Rebane locked him in a cabin and told him to finish the daily task or he would not be fed. The cast of the film consisted of Hollywood veterans.
The Giant Spider Invasion was shot in Gleason and Merrill, Wisconsin and in six weeks with a budget of $300,000. Special effects artist Bob Millay was hired to design the spiders for the film. While attempting to film a scene where the spider explodes, the effects team covered the prop with gunpowder and had a crew member attempt to ignite it with matches. Despite using the entire matchbox, the spider did not explode and Rebane decided to stop filming. Immediately after they stopped, the spider exploded, causing the crew members hair to get singed.
The movie was released in theaters in 1975. In an interview with Fangoria in 1996, Bill Rebane claimed the movie grossed $15 million. Turner Classic Movies claimed the movie made a $22 million return. In the United States and Canada, video rentals of the movie in 1976 grossed to $2,347,000. On television, it was featured on The CBS Late Movie. The Giant Spider Invasion was later released on DVD by multiple video companies, including Retromedia in 2002 and a director's cut on May 5, 2009 by MVD Visual. It was released on Blu-ray on June 15, 2015 by VCI Entertainment.
Michael Weldon, in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, while criticizing the special effects and comparing them negatively to The Giant Claw, he considered the movie to be "Lots of laughs". Leonard Maltin wrote, "Veteran cast can't do much for this tacky horror opus filmed in Wisconsin." VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever gave the film one star, while Robert Firsching from Allmovie gave the movie one star out of five, speaking negative about Rebane's direction and the movies use of humor.
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. Wired listed the movie as one of the "cheesiest movies" ever made.
In 1997, The Giant Spider Invasion was featured in the eighth-season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), a comedy television series in which the character Mike Nelson and his two robot friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo are forced to watch 'bad films' as part of an ongoing scientific experiment. Regarding the episode, Director Bill Rebane thought it was strange but overall accepted it due to its popularity.
In 2006, Rhino Entertainment released the MST3K episode as part of the "Volume 10" DVD collection of the series, along with Godzilla vs. Megalon, Swamp Diamonds, and Teen-Age Strangler. The boxset was later recalled due to the rights to Godzilla vs. Megalon being disputed. It was redistributed in the "Volume 10.2" collection in 2008, with Godzilla being replaced by The Giant Gila Monster.
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, the voice of Tom Servo. 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. In 2011, it was announced that the movie was going to be remade into a musical.
In a 2012 interview with Wisconsin television station WSAW-TV, Rebane remarked that he was not sure how the movie became popular, saying it wasn't an initial hit until it became a cult classic. He also stated that while the movie grossed millions of dollars over the past thirty-five years, he never saw a fraction of the money, calling the film "one of the most pirated movies in history." Despite his grievances, Rebane was proud of the impact the movie made for the city of Merrill, Wisconsin.
In 2012, film historian Bill Dexter found the shells of the two thirty-feet spiders with the intent on restoring the spiders to their original form. In 2013, the shell of one of the main giant spider was reported stolen by Rebane. Weeks later a recycling facility announced that the giant spider was brought to them as scrap metal.
In 2019, MST3K stars Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (the voice of Crow in MST3K during its last seasons) will be riffing the movie live as part of RiffTrax Live as one of the 3 movies being riffed on August 15.
- Maltin, Leonard (1998). Leonard Maltin's 1998 Movie & Video Guide. Plume. p. 504. ISBN 0-45227-914-3.
- Weldon, Michael (1989). The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. Plexus Publishing. p. 278. ISBN 0-85965-156-8.
- Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
- VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever. Visible Ink Press. 1995. p. 427. ISBN 0-81039-135-X.
- Knox, Al (December 4, 2012). "Director of 1975 Movie, The Giant Spider Invasion, Reflects Back On Film". WSAW-TV. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
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- Gibron, Bill (March 11, 2008). "Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 10.2 (The Upgrade)". Popmatters. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
- Foywonder (September 12, 2012). "The Giant Spider Invasion to be Remade as a Musical Comedy". Dread Central. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- Schilder, Elizabeth (December 8, 2012). "Giant Spiders Return To Gleason". WSAW-TV. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
- WSAW Staff (August 28, 2013). "UPDATE: Giant Spider May Have Been Scrapped". WSAW-TV. Retrieved January 17, 2019.