Earth vs The Spider (1958) by Bert I. Gordon, starring Ed Kemmer, June Kenney, Eugene Persson
In Earth vs The Spider, teenagers from a rural community and their high school science teacher join forces to battle a giant mutant spider.
In short, Earth vs The Spider is a delightfully cheesy 1950’s lower-budget monster movie. The acting’s not bad, and the pace is good. There’s even a little bit of character development.
It begins with Carol being worried, when her father hasn’t returned home from a trip — he went to buy her a present for her upcoming birthday. Her boyfriend, Mike, isn’t concerned, because her father, Jack, has a drinking problem. He thinks that the man’s just sleeping off a bender. But, because he loves her, he borrows a buddy’s car, and they go looking for him after school. Where they find what the audience already knows: her father’s been attacked by …. Something.
Initially, the sheriff isn’t too concerned, but eventually he leads a posse of men to the cave in the woods nearby. There, they confront and kill the spider. Movie’s over! Oh, wait …
This next part’s just silly. The authorities take the corpse of the giant spider to town, and store it in …. The high school gymnasium. Where they’re going to have a dance that night. Janitor Hank Patterson makes the mistake of letting the high schoolers’ rock and roll band into the gym, to practice. Which wakes the not-dead spider, and it goes on a rampage!
While the spider’s rampaging, the young couple’s gone back to the spider’s cave. The young lady’s determined to find the bracelet her dead father bought for her. It’s an emotional link to her father. Of course, after its’ rampage, the spider’s heading back to the cavern. Where the townspeople first try to seal it in the cave with dynamite …. Before realizing the young couple’s in there! What to do? The high school science teacher has a plan …
Earth vs the Spider is an enjoyable, cheesy monster movie from the 1950’s. Don’t expect high drama, great acting, or award-winning special effects. Take it for what it is, and it’s an enjoyable popcorn movie. I rate it 3 stars.
Whilst looking for her missing father, a girl and her boyfriend stumble over an inhabited cave, occupied by a deadly giant spider. After being captured and enmeshed in the eight-legged beasts giant web they manage to escape and raise the alarm. Convincing people proves to be tricky but eventually the sheriff and the schools science teacher help them kill the monstrous spider and take it back to town. They put it in the school hall and hold a dance but is the spider really dead Samuel Z. Arkoff started producing movies with his partner James Nicholson in 1954 when they set up American International Pictures and capitalised on the trend of teenagers being the main cinema audience of the time. AIP made pictures about teenagers for teenagers and The Spider has all the essential ingredients for a drive-in horror classic.
High schoolers as the primary cast driving really cool cars, together with sceptical adults (the disbelieving sheriff), a rocknroll band (to wake up the spider) and a big scary monster (the spider.) Whether the spider is a freak of nature or a mutant is never determined as it escapes leaving many more questions.
- Why did they hold a dance with a giant spider in the corner of the school hall?
- Shouldn’t they be hunting for the spider’s possible offspring?
- What has it been living off the past few years?
- How will they stop it ?
Now you can find out in The Spider! The Spider is co-written by George Worthing Yates who also wrote Earth vs the Flying Saucers and Them!, and directed by Bert I. Gordon, nicknamed Mr Big for his initials and his fondness for the big monsters in his films. His special effects of producing giant monsters on screen were achieved by “ingeniously” using rear projection enlargements.
Cast of characters
- Ed Kemmer (Giant from the Unknown) … Professor Art Kingman
- June Kenney (Attack of the Puppet People) … Carol Flynn
- Eugene Persson … Mike Simpson
- Gene Roth (Twice Told Tales, Dunked in the Deep) … Sheriff Cagle
- Hal Torey (Invisible Invaders) … Mr. Simpson
- June Jocelyn (The Amazing Colossal Man) … Mrs. Jack Flynn
- Mickey Finn … Sam Haskel
- Sally Fraser (War of the Colossal Beast) … Mrs. Helen Kingman
- Troy Patterson … Joe
- Skip Young … Sam the Bass Player
- Howard Wright … Jake
- Bill Giorgio (The Brain from Planet Arous) … Deputy Sheriff Pete Sanders
- Hank Patterson (Tarantula, Green Acres) … Hugo the Janitor
- Jack Kosslyn (Empire of the Ants) … Mr. Fraser
- Bob Garnet … Pest Control Man
- Shirley Falls … Switchboard Operator
- Robert Tetrick … Deputy Sheriff Dave
- Nancy Kilgas (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) … Dancer
- George Stanley (Tormented) … Man in Cavern
- David Tomack … Power Line Foreman
- Merritt Stone … Jack Flynn