The Giant Spider (2013)
I’m a sucker for giant “bug” (GB) films and enjoy even the crappiest grade-Z quickies such as Monster from Green Hell (1957), about giant irradiated wasps terrorizing the African savannah. Most of these films used varying special effects, including live action photography of insects (Beginning of the End, 1957), stop-motion animation (The Black Scorpion, 1957), and mechanical articulated props (THEM!, 1954). Some of these films deployed a combination of techniques where the bulk of shots were stop-motion animated and closeups were mechanical props as exemplified by the giant drooling head of the Black Scorpion. Willis O’Brien also deployed this technique in King Kong (1933) and The Giant Behemoth (1959).
However, I draw the line with most CGI-rendered GB films, frequently originating from the SyFy channel —and there are a lot of them. I don’t care much for the horror-parody Eight Legged Freaks (2002) which featured decent CGI, Scarlett Johansson (voted the sexiest woman alive) and a cast of other familiar faces. I like traditional special effects.
Christopher R. Mihm’s “The Giant Spider” (2013) is more to my liking and should please any fans of the GB film genre. The film is an homage to Universal-International’s Tarantula (1955) and other GB films set in the 1950’s. All the classic trappings are present: Vintage cars, a drive-in theater, quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, atomic weapons testing, a diner, cliched 50’s characters and dialogue, and one humdinger of a giant crawling mygalomorph with a fantastic mockup “spider” head (this thing is a hoot). The cast includes Mike Cook, Billie Jo Konze and James Norgard as scientists hellbent on destroying the voracious spider. Mark Haider plays the ubiquitous army general with gusto, and Daniel R. Sjerven and Shannon McDonough play lovebirds snared in the web of horror. The writing and acting are deliberately cheesy. The Giant Spider is 71 minutes of popcorn crunching kineticism! This is great family fun and a winner for halloween.
The DVD comes with a load of extras including a director’s commentary, blooper reel, trailers, photo galleries, previews, episodes of Mihm’s “Commander Lambert: Space Explorer…In Space!”, various film introductions, and [GET THIS] audio and subtitle tracks in the artificial language of Esperantu. I also got a cool download of music inspired by the film. Bravo!