Earth vs. The Spider (1958)
Comic book covers, particularly old ones, were always liars. On the front you’d often see a depiction of something mind-blowing, like Superman being dumped by Lois and running off with Lex Luthor, or Spider-Man ruthlessly beating on Aunt May until she handed over her pension money…okay okay, so maybe not that last one. The point is, these images often bore little resemblance to the story on the inside; clearly it was designed to tantalise young readers to squander their pocket money purchasing the periodical. And you can’t help but feel the same about Earth vs. The Spider, a deceptively grandiose title which makes you envisage a far more titanic battle than the film ultimately delivers. If it had been called “Tiny Little Village in the Armpit of the Universe vs. The Spider”, then you might have had something.
Tarantula this ain’t, it’s pretty awful indeed, but also unintentionally funny in so many ways – from the ludicrously convoluted way they try and get a “cool” musical number in there to appeal to the hipsters of the day (not unlike the cringe-inducing interlude near the beginning of I Was A Teenage Werewolf) to the moment which sees the “teenage” leads (who look about 40 – all I can say is these kids must have had long paper rounds) marvelling at this amazing new substance they’ve discovered, wondering what it is – it’s meant to be a giant web, which they don’t realise, but clearly it’s nothing more than a line of cheap old rope and net, without even the slightest attempt to conceal the fact.
My favourite laugh comes courtesy of the guy who, knowing that the giant spider is beginning to break through the wall next to him, stops to try and use the payphone to call the police for help, rather than running like hell for safety and finding somewhere better to call from. He even lets it ring six or seven times, determined to get through at all costs…I swear, if answering machines had been invented he’d have left a message (one that would have ended “AAAAAAaaaaargh! *gurgling noises*”).
Disengage brain, perhaps add alcohol and some like-minded friends and this one will be good for an evening poking fun at. Oh, and a moment that’s bound to make any fanboy chuckle is the one where director Bert Ira Gordon shamelessly plugs some of his other wonderfully cornball low-budget shockers.
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