Written and Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Tagline: " Bullets…won’t kill it! Flames…can’t burn it! Nothing…can stop it!"
Run Time: 73 min
“Speaking of spiders…insects have a pretty simple nervous system.”
– Mr. Kingman, science teacher
Bert does it again. The king of ‘rip-offs’ and bad special effects has treated us to another film featuring, well, bad special effects and a movie that is a pale imitation of a much more popular film from the same era: "Tarantula". Both movies are based on a giant spider that runs around killing people, however, Bert makes his film as he did all his others: As cheap as possible. (As most people know, Burt and his wife were responsible for all the special effects in his films, a task that often resulted in hilariously poor-quality scenes.)
As mentioned above, our current feature, "Earth vs the Spider", is a knock off of "Tarantula", which was released with great success just a few years earlier. (See also Burt’s other film Beginning of the End, a ridiculous rip-off of "Them" featuring giant grasshoppers instead of giant ants…) The film was originally entitled simply "The Spider", but after the popular "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" came out just a year before, AIP changed the title in an effort to cash in on the success of the other film (have these guys no shame!?). However, just as AIP was about to release "Earth vs the Spider", a blockbuster film from 20th Century Fox, "The Fly", was launched in the theaters. AIP saw another opportunity to ride the coattails of a superior film and changed all the advertising material to feature the original title: "The Spider" (although the film credits still showed "Earth vs the Spider" in the theaters…those must have been confusing times indeed). (AIP and Bert managed to pump out 3 films in 1958 alone, most of them being knee-jerk rip-offs off other popular films: "Attack of the Puppet People", "War of the Colossal Beast", and "Earth vs the Spider".)
Regardless of the title, the film is another example of a poorly executed ‘giant-bug’ movie. The title itself is misleading for the spider is hardly pitted against the Earth, in fact, it is defeated by a high school science teacher…hardly a threat to the world as a whole. The special effects are awful, of course. Not to mention the spider itself has a strange characteristic of being enraged by rock-n-roll music. (Did I forget to mention that the spider screams and roars? Well it does.)
So, with all that in mind, let’s see how Burt Gordon tackles this one. It’s now time to present: "Earth vs the Spider"!
(Sorry about the crappy screen shots…I did this review from a pretty old copy of the film…)
|Mr. Kingman (Ed Kimmer)
Mr. Cardboard himself. A science teacher that doesn’t know that spiders aren’t insects and laughs when the sheriff shoots a bat. Teacher of the Year!
|Carol Flynn (June Kenney)
The generic female half of the generic ‘teen couple’. Her father is the first to be killed by the spider, leading to all types of trouble.
|Mike Simpson (Eugene Perrson)
Carol’s boyfriend and runner up for Mr. Cardboard Actor of the Year. He bitches when Carol asks him to help her find the necklace her father was going to give her on the night he was killed. Then offers to just buy her another when, except he’s broke. One word: Loooooser!
|Sheriff Cagle (Gene Roth)
Small town sheriff played by the great character actor Gene Roth.
Roth appeared in over 195 films during his career spanning over 45 years. He was struck and killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street in 1976 at the age of 73.
Oh yeah, just wanted to point out another characteristic of bad movies…misspelled opening credits…sort of sets the scene for what is to follow, if you know what I mean. Take for instance the fact that they misspelled the word "starring" as "starrring": classic! (For another example of misspelled opening credits see Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.)
The opening credits completed (ending with a shot of a glowing spider perched in the middle of a giant web..), we see a man driving an old pickup truck in the middle of the night. Looking down at the passenger seat, the man smiles and picks up a small box. In the box is a necklace and a small card which reads: "To Carol, with Love, Dad" (All together now: Awwwwwww isn’t that sweet!).
But wait! Something is blocking the road! It’s a huge strand of spider web (pretend that you didn’t see it was just a rope)! The rope, sorry, spider web, smashes the windshield and the glass shreds the man’s face while he screams and loses control of the truck. (Bert Gordon often did have great opening scenes to his movies, but the films go quickly downhill from there…)
Cut to The Perfect American Smalltown: River Falls. Carol (you mean she’s the same Carol that was supposed to get the necklace from her father?) and her boyfriend Mike are strolling down the street on the way to school. Being that today is Carol’s birthday, Mike gives her a small present, but Carol seems a bit distracted on this fine day. You see, her father didn’t come home last night and she’s a bit worried. Mike oddly keeps alluding to Carol’s father’s drinking problem, saying in so many words, that he probably got drunk and passed out somewhere. (An odd point to bring up since it’s never again mentioned in the film.) Carol gets a bit miffed and stomps off into the school building but not before tossing Mike’s unopened gift back into his face.
We next see the 2 love-birds passing notes in their science class. Seeing that Carol is no longer mad at him, Mike successfully sneaks the gift back to her while the teacher,Mr. Kingman, drones on about electricity and the dangers of being struck by an electric arc. (Hey! I wonder if that’s how they’re going to kill the spider?)
By the way, this is a really boring science lecture. Oh yeah. And the teacher knew all along that Mike and Carol were passing notes. Har-dee-har. Busted!
After school, at Carol’s request, Mike borrows a friend’s car so they can go out looking for her father. (Shouldn’t they inform the police? Isn’t that what they are for?) Good thing for the pair that there is only one possible road into town, because they just happen to see the weird "stuff" hanging out into the road. (The rope, oops, spider web strand, that killed Carol’s dad.) They pull over to the side of the road to investigate and Carol just happens to see the box containing the necklace her father bought her! Oh! The pathos! But wait it gets worse! Her father’s battered truck lies at the bottom of a hill! Tell me it isn’t so!
Mike and Carol scramble down the embankment and see that the truck is indeed a total wreck. Hoping for the best, Carol suggests that maybe he has walked away from the wreck in an effort to find help. (Yeah right! Keep dreamin’, baby!) Yes, Mike agrees that he "could still be around…unless he went in the cave!" (Oh brother.)
Said cave (Yes, the cave was filmed in Bronson Caves) has a huge sign in front of it warning off trespassers. Mike mentions that nobody believes in those "stories about the cave", so maybe Carol’s father went in there to stay warm during the night. (Like I said, keep dreamin’ baby!)
Mike suggests they go and take a peek inside, despite the huge sign warning against that very same action. Oh well, this is a ‘big-bug’ movie after all…As Carol comes running up to join him (thanks for waiting for me!), Mike notices a bloody, torn hat on the ground. He quickly scoops it up and hides it from Carol (?). (I assume he wanted to protect her from the bloody reality of the situation, but come on, she’s already seen the smashed truck, the gift laying at the side of the road, the smashed windshield…she must have some clue where all this is leading…)
As expected, Carol ignores Mike’s request for her to stay put at the cave entrance (she said she’s "scared of being alone…", dump her Mike..way to ‘clingy’), choosing instead to tag along. (That way she can scream her head off when we see the spider…oops!) A little trivia here, although the exterior shots of the cave are filmed in Bronson Caves, however the interior shots of the cave are actually just slides and post cards taken in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico…an incredible place to visit if you ever get the chance.
Now back to our main feature.
Inside the cave (and I might add an extremely well lit cave, almost like it was filmed in a tourist location…oh never mind), Mike and Carol make their way deeper and deeper into the, er, darkness. Realizing that their efforts may be in vain, Carol loses heart and wants to give up the search. But wait, one last effort, Carol decides to try one more tunnel and see if they can find any sign of her wayward father.
In a ‘scary’ scene, Carol’s repeated shouting shakes loose a stalactite that nearly smashes into the top of her head. (!) Of course, disaster is narrowly averted when Mike pulls her aside. Continuing a little bit further, Carol stumbles upon a bunch of plastic skeletons and starts screaming her head off. (Told you.)
Despite the huge "No Trespassing Sign", the randomly falling stalactites, and the pile of skeletons, Carol and Mike decide to keep looking (!!).
Excuse me? Can’t you guys take a hint? Get the hell out of there!
Oh brother, due to the fact that they "can’t see" anything, they manage to walk off a ledge (!) and fall onto a big cargo net…excuse me…spider web. The two of them do in fact make an effort to convince us that it is not a net and that it is a spider web by saying lines such as "It’s so sticky!" and "How will we get out?" (Ok! Ok! It’s a spider web, fine! Now can we get on with the movie?)
Stuck in the, ahem, web, Mike and Carol suddenly her an odd ‘shrieking’ sound from deeper in the cave. (This couldn’t be a spider making that noise because spiders don’t have vocal cords…right?)
Well, as you might have guessed, a gigantic spider crawls out from the darkness and tries to eat the kids. (The spider is of course actually a tarantula matted in over the cave shots). Fickle fate smiles on Carol and Mike because despite the fact that they were stuck in the web, Mike somehow becomes ‘unstuck’ and manages to pull himself and Carol out of the web and run away. (Wasn’t that convenient!) The spider gives chase but can’t catch up with the terrified teenagers. (This ‘chase’ scene looks suspiciously like the spider is crawling over Carlsbad Cavern postcards…this "film-the-bug-on-a-postcard-to-make-it-look-bigger" trick is a favorite of Bert Gordon…in fact he also used it in Beginning of the End to show grasshoppers climbing up ‘buildings’ in downtown Chicago.)
Back in town, the kids have returned home with a piece of the giant spider web. They have taken the sample to Kingman’s house and are showing the web fragment to the astute teacher (who supposedly has taken time out from his busy schedule boring students to take a look at it.) He confirms that it is in fact a giant strand of silk, but that doesn’t necessarily prove that a giant spider is loose. Mike’s parents push the issue, insisting that their son does not lie (no teenager would ever think of lying, now would they?), so Kingman places a call to the sheriff.
We see that Sheriff Cagle is in the middle of a stimulating game of checkers with Deputy Sanders when the phone rings. Cagle takes the phone and whispers to his deputy to wait around because "…it’s only that high-school teacher…" (Yeah, he would never be in need of assistance…) Kingman assures the sheriff that he too believes the story to be a bit far-fetched, yet it merits at least a cursory investigation. (Hell, Carol’s father is missing, and his smashed truck is laying beside the roadside…that alone seems to call for some sort of looking into, wouldn’t you think?)
Sheriff Cagle sends his deputy to round up some men while he continues chatting with Kingman on the phone. In an mock effort to sooth Kingman, he mentions that he and his men will bring along rifles in case they run into this so-called ‘giant spider’.
Well, this might sound all find and dandy, put Kingman is quick to point out that "insects have a pretty simple nervous system, Sheriff, you could plug holes in one all day and never hit a vital spot…" Well this may or may not be true, but I do know one thing: Spiders are not insects! And this guy is a science teacher, for cripes sake? Kingman suggests in kind that the round up the "pest control people" and "all the DDT they can find." The Sheriff agrees and hangs up with a laugh…"giant spiders…ha!…what next?!"
Cut to the crash scene. Sheriff Cagle, Deputy Sanders, a gang of armed men along with a couple "pest control" workers, Carol, Mike, and Mr. Kingman (whew! Seriously, it looks like half of River Falls’s population is there!) are all snaking their way down the embankment to where the crumpled truck is laying. They pass the truck (without even bothering to look inside? Nice police-work!) and continue on to the cave entrance.
Well, Mike and Carol lead the posse through the same ‘post-card scenery’ as they walked through in the first part of the movie. After a few minutes of wandering around in the, ahem, dark, the Sheriff is getting fed up with the whole business and decides to turn back. (Boy! That was a thorough investigation!) Kingman convinces them to continue looking, pointing out that "one would expect a certain amount of wildlife in a cave: rats, mice, bats, and so on." However, they haven’t seen hide-no-hair of anything, so Kingman suspects that something is afoot.
Just as they are about to resume their search, a bat flies by and Sheriff Cagle opens fire with his rifle (!!). After a few wild shots up into the air, he hits the bat, which falls dead to his feet. While he picks up the bat to gloat over his kill, Mike and Carol walk ahead to the rubber skeleton room. Carol looks into a dark corner and sees the dried remains of her father, who now looks like some sort of bald-headed alien…I never knew spiders could do that to you.
Carol screams upon finding the desiccated remains of her father which brings the rest of the posse running in to see what all the commotion is about. (Before Carol screamed Sheriff Cagle and Mr. Kingman were having a good laugh over the dead bat…and Kingman is a science teacher? You would think he would have a bit more…oh, what’s it called?…respect for life.)
The Sheriff runs into the niche and sees the body…yech.
Next scene. The blanket-covered remains are being carried away while the group looks on. (Why hasn’t the Sheriff reacted to all the skeletons laying about? Not a word has been said by anybody…It should at least raise an eyebrow or two…) Mike points out the way to the giant spider-web room (the one that he and Carol fell into, and managed to escape with about as much effort as a kid climbing out of a cargo net…how ironic) and the skeptical Sheriff Cagle goes to investigate, nearly falling into the web himself!
Finally convinced of the spider’s existence, Cagle calls for the pest-control guys to bring up the DDT. The two men pull up the DDT hose and get into position by the spider web. (You mean they have a hose all the way from the truck to the inside of the cave? Is a 3-mile hose standard equipment?)
Upon reaching the ‘web room’, Sheriff Cagle sends out a couple of his men onto the web with the hose (uhh…does that seem so smart?). They start spraying the noxious gas into the cave which of course brings forth the roaring, screaming spider from its lair. As the spider approaches, one of the men becomes stuck (Hello?! It’s a freakin’ web! What did you expect?) and he receives a smash to the head with a really cheap looking fake spider leg, resulting in his untimely death. Whatever, the spider screams and roars some more and finally topples over, a victim of the DDT gas.
Outside the cave, Mike consoles (the oddly unemotional) Carol with regards to her father’s death. Mr. Kingman offers to speak to Carol’s mother, but Coral glumly mentions that she’ll break the news to her instead. (The science teacher is going to tell somebody that they’ve lost their spouse to a giant spider?)
It’s also at this point that Carol notices she’s lost the necklace her father was to give to her. Mike consoles her and says they can go back and get it another time (yeah, like, when after the spider has been removed!). The young pair leave to go…somewhere, while the Sheriff and Kingman discuss what is to be done with the spider. Sheriff Cagle wants to just board up the entrance, while Kingman, the man of science who thinks that spiders are insects, wants to take the gigantic specimen back for study. He notes that all "eggheads want to know ‘why this’, ‘how come that’, and ‘what about the other’" (Yeah, isn’t that inscribed on all University Diplomas: "Why This…How Come That…What About The Other")
Anyway, Sheriff Cagle and Kingman exchange some Classic Lines, before agreeing to drag the presumably dead spider up from the murky cave and back to town. Cagle gives Kingman the green light to bring up the spider but he wants to be "left out of it." (What about the skeletons scattered about down there? Wouldn’t River Falls’s Police Department want to look into that? Naaaa!)
We now see that Kingman has somehow managed to transport the spider back to River Fall High School and has placed the lifeless remains in the school gymnasium (!!!). (At the risk of sounding nit-picky…how the hell did he get that monstrous thing out of the cave?)
As Kingman is admiring the beast and showing off his latest specimen to Mr. Fraser, the Camera Club teacher (!!), one of the legs (well, Bert Gordon made only one ‘leg’ with which to smack the actors around) snaps out and knocks Fraser to the ground. Kingman helps the startled man to his feet and reassures him that the spider really is dead. The leg moved because of a "muscular contraction…Davonni’s Reaction…it often happens…(!)".
Now, if I’m not mistaken, spiders don’t have muscles. They move their legs by pumping blood through a series of complex valves in the leg joints themselves. I’m really losing all respect I had for this guy’s knowledge of arachnids.
Meanwhile, Carol is crying her eyes out over her father’s demise. She weeps on the sofa as her mother comes downstairs and tries to console her. Carol blames herself for what happened to her dad because it had been her necklace he was out buying that night. (As she sadly notes: "It never would have happened if he hadn’t gone to get me that present…and now I’ve lost it!" Oh shucks! I guess your dad’s death at the clutches of a giant spider isn’t such a big deal in comparison to a lost necklace.) Her mother tells her not to worry about and instead to make sure her homework is finished for the next school day. (Geez! You’d think she’d get a little time to mourn her loss, but oh well, high-school comes first!) Oh yeah, and your boyfriend Mike called a couple times while you were at school. Sigh, life goes on.
Carol calls Mike at the movie theater where he’s busily changing light bulbs on the main marquee. (Note the movie that is playing: "The Amazing Colossal Man", another Bert Gordon stinker. Nice one, Bert!) Mike picks up the phone and Carol asks him to take her out to the cave to find her necklace. Mike, being the sensitive boyfriend and realizing the tragic loss that Carol has gone through, doesn’t want to drive out to the cave today because a new movie has just come in that he hasn’t seen ("…something about Puppet People, sounds pretty wild!" To everyone that is still awake, he is referring to "Attack of the Puppet People", yet another Bert Gordon film…shame on you, Bert!)
Mike finally gives in and grumpily says that he could probably borrow "Joe’s car". (What dialog! Auteur! Auteur!) With as much enthusiasm as a somebody about to make a dentist appointment, Mike agrees to meet her on the corner so Carol’s mom won’t see them drive off. (You know, how can the viewer be excited if even the actors are bored?)
After Mike borrows Joe’s car, we see that Joe and another group of teens at the high school are getting irritated because the gym is locked up and marked off limits…<gasp!>…so now their band can’t rehearse! Damn giant spider! (By the way, the actor who plays ‘Joe’ the, ahem, high-school student, was 35-years old in this movie! They could at least get someone in their 20’s to portray a teenager!)
After some excruciating attempts to sound like ‘hip’ teenagers ("The kids will have a blast if we swing solid!", "[I’m not going in], not with Mr. Eight-legs still in there!"), the, ahem, kids call for the school janitor, Hugo. (Hugo is played by Hank Patterson, a veteran of nearly 80 movies, including several Bert Gordon fiascos, and also the original "Tarantula": the very film that this movie is ripping off!) After pestering Hugo for awhile ("C’mon, let us in, we’re the coolest zoologists in town!"), Hugo relents and unlocks the gymnasium doors.
Hugo gives them a stern warning to leave the spider alone (gee..ok, if you insist), a warning that Joe reiterates to his numbskull friends: "Dig that? Now the first guy to step on Daddy-Long-Legs is going to hear from Hugo!")
The band enters the gymnasium and is shocked by the size of the remains. Well, we assume that’s what they are gasping about since they are never actually, you know, shown with the spider. Well, I take that back. They do show the band in the same shot as the one ridiculous looking fake leg that is used to ‘kill’ people.
Whoops, I stand corrected. Now they show the band with the spider in a sort of matte-shot. So I officially apologize to all the Bert Gordon fans out there.
Getting back to the film, the band ganders at the spider for awhile and then gets on the stage to start practicing. (oh no…I’m afraid I’m in for another monster-movie teenage-band musical number…ayeeeeee!)
I just have to interject one thing here: To see this teeny-bop band practicing for the school dance in the same room as a house-size tarantula is something you just don’t see everyday.
Anyway, Joe picks up a maestro’s baton (?) and is just about to start the rehearsal when in comes the school Drama Club. Irritated and being interrupted, Joe tells them to either "come in or get out." The Drama Club members cast a wary eye at the spider and then decide to do what anybody else would do: They come in and start dancing! (OK, now a high school band comprised of ‘teens’ in their 30’s that’s playing for a dancing Drama Club in a gymnasium with a house-sized spider is certainly something you don’t see everyday!)
This is one swinging band! In fact, they play such rousing 50’s music that the spider rejuvenates and comes back to life! It chases the teens out of the gym and kills Hugo the janitor. Damn kids and their rock-n-roll! (I noted that the spider had to break down a wall to get out of the gym, so how in the hell did Kingman get the thing in there in the first place?)
While the spider frees itself from the confines of the high school, Mike and Carol have returned to the cave to look for Carol’s necklace. (How sweet.) Kingman and Sheriff Cagle, however, have arrived at the school to investigate a disturbance. (I’ll say!). From around the corner of the school appears the spider (screaming and roaring) which is now the size of a bank building. (Wow! Rock-n-roll revives it and makes it grow!) Kingman jumps into his car and tries to drive off, but his car won’t start (!!). Sheriff Cagle, having ideas of his own, runs across the street and attempts to hide in a mattress factory (!). The door is locked but Kingman manages to start his car, pick up Cagle and flee before the roaring tarantula can devour them.
We are now treated to some typical Bert Gordon monster-attack scenes. The ‘monster’ crawls around on post cards and matte-shots while people scream and our killed by camera crane-shots zooming in towards them. (Including a woman who gets her dress caught in the door of her car and doesn’t have the sense to just pull the door handle to free it…ugh.)
As pandemonium reigns, Cagle tries to call for reinforcements but the "long distance lines are down." (?) (That was convenient.) One of Cagle’s surviving deputies volunteers to ride a motorcycle to Springdale and get help. Sounds good. Cagle tells him to call the governor and have him send army troops with "flame-throwers and artillery." (Why not just squirt more DDT on it like they did in the cave?) Well in fact, Cagle asks Kingman if they should try DDT again but Kingman blows off the suggestion because it only "stunned it" instead of killing it. (Well, couldn’t you kill it after it was stunned? What a moron.)
As the daring deputy mounts the motorcycle and zooms off to Springdale for help, Kingman and Cagle survey the ruins of downtown River Falls. The monster has certainly done some major damage, consisting mostly of scattering cardboard boxes in the street and tipping a mailbox. Out of the, ahem, destruction, drives up good-ol Jake who says he’s evacuating because "the monster has driven him out of house and home…I’ve had it!". (Yeah, what a drag, eh?) He does exposit that the overgrown arachnid is heading towards Maple Street. (Doh! Isn’t that were Kingman lives…and…<gasp!>…his wife and child are hiding alone in their house!)
Sure enough, for some unknown cosmic logic, the spider heads directly to Kingman’s house. (What are the odds…can spiders take personal revenge on somebody?) His wife grabs the baby and tries to run from the house but their escape is blocked by that goofy, skinny spider leg that we’ve seen several times now. Kingman, in a valiant effort to save his family, rams his car into the spider’s rear end (hey, I didn’t write this movie), thus drawing it away from the house and causing it to chase him down the street.
The exciting (not) pursuit continues for some time, now extending out into the countryside away from the city. The spider chases the car, shown using ‘processing shots’ that are so poorly done that the spider is actually partially transparent and you can see the mountains through it. (Bert, you did it again!)
Kingman gives the spider the slip (don’t ask), turns the car around, and heads back home in order to check on his traumatized family. (They’re OK. Don’t worry.)
Intel reports indicate that the spider is heading back to it’s cave…,"heading South along old Higgin’s Road". Ah yes, that helps. Thank you.
Meanwhile, Mike and Carol are back in the cave looking around under the giant spider web for Carol’s necklace. (Remember Mike and Carol? The two teens who headed out to the cave, oh, what, about 6 hours ago?) I do have to admire the spider’s way of spinning a web with square cells in it, never seen that before, except in cargo nets…oh…I get it….
Mike gets impatient after a few minutes of poking around in the rocks and offers to just buy Carol a new necklace instead. (Wow. This guy is all heart.) Carol just happens to stumble upon a hole in the floor which leads to another series of caves. Deciding to take a look down there, Mike and Carol head for the new caverns via "that opening over there!" Convenient!
The kids gain access to the sub-caves and start looking around. (I really wonder how they can see anything without any type of lights.) Anyway, after stumbling around a bit in front of some Carlsbad Caverns postcards, Mike finds it. ("Oh! Here it is!"…give me a break!) Mission accomplished, they head out of the caverns but don’t realize that the spider is on the loose and has in fact re-entered its lair. Ayieeeee!
Back at the sheriff’s station, Cagle contacts the operator in order to find out how much longer the "long-distance lines" are going to be down. (Insulting the operator by addressing her as "sister" probably doesn’t hurry things along…"How much longer, sister?") Cagle finds out that the long-distance service to Springdale won’t be in order for at least another two hours. (Is that the only city they can call?)
At that moment, Kingman knocks on the door and enters with the dried-up corpse of Deputy Dave. Nope, trying to ride a motorcycle to Springdale wasn’t such a hot idea after all. No siree. Kingman unceremoniously dumps the remains on the Sheriff’s desk stating simply that he found him on "the corner of Maple and Horton…he never made it to Springdale for help." (Gee…really?)
Well, now the guys have had enough of this nonsense and decide to blow up the cave entrance, thus sealing the spider in there for good. They storm out to do the deed, leaving Mr. Simpson, Mike’s father (who is now the newest deputy (?)) to watch the phones. At that very moment, Joe calls to report that Mike hasn’t come back with his car. Alarm bells rings in Mr. Simpson’s head and he calls Carol’s mother to she if the kids have shown up over there. Well, no they haven’t…which can only mean…bum! bum! bum!
Yes, well, now we move to our final sub plot. Mike and Carol are now apparently lost in the cave. They stumble across some writing on a wall which reads "George Preston Lost April 9, 1902". The kids don’t see the dried up, spider-web encased skeleton until they nearly step on it. Carol shrieks and the terrified teens scamper onward in the darkness. Seeing the skeletal remains of the doomed explorer reminds Mike that he has a candy bar in his pocket (!?). Yummy! As they munch on the chocolate, a familiar roaring sound shatters the silence: the spider is back! Oh no!
Outside the entrance, the Sheriff and his crew are putting the final boxes of explosives into place at the cave entrance. What they don’t know is that Mike and Carol have finally found the way out but are stuck in the giant web. (Boy, sometimes people get stuck, sometimes they just crawl right over it…weird, huh?)
Suddenly, Carol’s mother and Mike’s father (don’t ask…ok, Mike’s mother is in the hospital having a baby!!! I’m not making this up) show up and see the kids’s car on the side of the road. (Why didn’t Sheriff Cagle see it? Weird, huh?) However, it’s too late to stop the explosion and the cave is sealed tight with tons of stony rubble. Unfortunately, the blast collapses the web-room ceiling onto the kids and the huge spider.
Once the Sheriff finds out the kids are in there, he orders the explosive’s crew to start digging them out, even though it could take up to a week. Kingman notes that they don’t have that much time because "if the spider doesn’t get them…the bad air will!" (Bad air? What about food and water?)
Mr. Simpson takes this opportunity to point out another problem: if they open the cave, what’s to keep the spider from getting out and killing them? Good point. Kingman suggests that they take down some power lines (conveniently right next to the cave entrance) and use them as a weapon to electrocute the spider if it comes out. (Hey! That’s just what he was talking about in the beginning of the film! Oh…I get it!)
OK, moving right along. Mike and Carol free themselves from the rubble and rush around in a frenzy, finally noticing that the cave exit is blocked by boulders. At that moment, the workers who are trying to rescue them from above, set of another explosive charge in a rescue shaft in an effort to open up a new exit route.
Now, really dragging this out now. Mike and Carol flee towards the sounds of the explosion, with the spider in hot pursuit. They find a ledge, and creep out onto it in order to escape the beast. Of course, a chunk of the ledge falls away as Carol steps onto it, nearly plunging her into the void below. As expected, the ledge leads to a dead end, stranding Mike and Carol with no way to return.
High above, Kingman, Sheriff Cagle, and some extras climb down into the cave, dragging the high-voltage line with them. The search party eventually finds Mike and Carol trapped on the ledge with the spider trying to cross the chasm in order to get them. Kingman tosses one of the electrodes over to Mike and they electrocute the spider, which falls to its death, impaled on the stalagmites below. (Yech.)
Kingman and Cagle rescue the kids from the ledge and lead them to their parents (who have also climbed down into the cave !) for a tearful reunion . Well, everybody climbs up again (a lot of climbing in this movie). and they seal off the cave for good, or as Kingman remarks, "at least until another egg-head comes along and digs it up again."
Ho! Ho! That was rich!
Dennis Grisbeck (May 2005)
Well, this movie was bad, but it could have been so much better. Bert certainly did his best to cut as many corners he could in the special effects department (as usual). At least he actually made a fake spider-leg in this film, which is more than I can say for "Beginning of the End".
The characters were about as shallow and one-dimensional as you can imagine. There was no characterization at all, and characters disappeared whenever needed, for example, in order to conveniently remove Mike’s mother from the story, we are told she is in the hospital having a baby!
Now, regarding the spider. The townspeople seem to be more annoyed that their afternoon was ruined than that there is a enormous killer spider on the loose. The population of River Falls reacts as if was just a bear coming into town at night and knocking people’s garbage cans over. And really, what was all that with the Drama Club dancing to a band in the gym while the huge spider’s remains are laying there taking up half the room. Nobody, and I mean, nobody would act as cavalier as they do. It’s completely unbelievable and bordering on surreal.
And the title: "Earth vs the Spider". I would hardly suggest that the Earth was ever in any danger from this particular arachnid. In fact, it was killed by a high school science teacher and a dorky kid named Mike. Ohhh! Scary! Look out, Earth!
All in all, this is a typical example of a Bert Gordon cheapo. Not his best and not his worst. Just bad.
Science Vs Authority, yet again
Kingman: "The spider is [dead], but not the principle that caused it to grow; that’s still for us to discover."
Sheriff: "Why bother!?"
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