Earth vs. The Spider

Year of Release: 1958
Running Time: 73 Minutes
DVD Released By: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Directed By: Bert I. Gordon
Writing Credits: Bert I. Gordon (Story), László Görög, George Worthing Yates
Filming Locations: Backlot, Universal Studios, Universal City, California - Bronson Caves, Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California - Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Starring: Ed Kemmer (Mr. Kingman), June Kenney (Carol Flynn), Eugene Persson (Mike Simpson), Gene Roth (Sheriff Cagle), Hal Torey (Mr. Simpson), June Jocelyn (Mrs. Jack Flynn), Mickey Finn (Sam Haskel, Road Foreman), Sally Fraser (Mrs. Helen Kingman), Troy Patterson (Joe), Skip Young (Sam the Bass Player), Howard Wright (Jake), Bill Giorgio (Deputy Sheriff Sanders), Hank Patterson (Hugo, River Falls H.S. Janitor), Jack Kosslyn (Mr. Fraser, Camera Club Teacher), Bob Garnet (Springdale Pest Control Man), Shirley Falls (Switchboard Operator), Bob Tetrick (Deputy Sheriff Dave), Nancy Kilgas (Dancer), George Stanley (Man in Cavern), David Tomack (Power Line Foreman), Merritt Stone (Jack Flynn, Carol's Dad), Dick D'Agostin (Pianist, uncredited)

Tagline 1: Bullets...won't kill it! Flames...can't burn it! Nothing...can stop it!
Tagline 2: [The Spider] will eat you alive!

Alternate Titles:
Earth vs. the Giant Spider
The Spider (USA) (promotional title)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
When Carol gets out of the car to look for her missing father, you can see the reflection of the film crew and movie camera in the vehicle's shiny black paint. Bert I. Gordon is the father of actress Susan Gordon who appeared as Agnes in Attack of the Puppet People, also directed by her father this very same year. Bert did his own special effects in his films, often in collaboration with his wife Flora M. Gordon, who worked with him on films like The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the Puppet People, Village of the Giants, War of the Colossal Beast and Beginning of the End.




Cast of Characters
Reviewer's Note: There were a lot more people than this in this movie, but these are most of the main ones. The rest either weren't really important or I couldn't get decent shots of them. There was one character named Joe who was a high school student with Mike and Carol that I really wanted to get a shot of but couldn't. The guy looked like he was in his mid 30's. Man, it takes a whole world full of stupid to be held back that many years!

Mr. Kingman: He's smart, he's studly, he's got a totally babe-a-liscious wife and all the high school girls dream about him while they're with their stupid, pimply-faced boyfriends. Yes, he's Mr. Kingman - Man of Science!!! Basically he's the school science teacher, and apparently an expert on bugs, killing bugs, electricity, and women. Did I mention his wife was way hot? You'll see her below. The long and the short of it is, this guy's got the smarts, but he should have listened to the sheriff and let them seal up the cave after they dropped enough DDT in there to kill every living thing in a fifty mile radius. He didn't though and they ended up bringing the supposedly dead spider back to the school. Turns out it was only stunned, and eventually woke up, broke out of the school and went on a rampage of death and destruction. Oh, and did I mention his wife was hot?

Carol Flynn: This is the girl who's father was killed by the spider right at the beginning of the movie. It was her being worried about him that led her to take Mike and go out looking for him. Eventually they found his truck, which had rolled down a hill and landed right in front of the huge cave where the spider lives. They were the ones that first went into the cave and found the spider and alerted Mr. Kingman and the Sheriff. Later on, Carol almost gets them both killed again when she drags Mike back into the cave to find the present that her father had bought for her that she dropped in their during their first encounter with the spider. Unfortunately for them, not only did the spider come back while they were in there, but Mr. Kingman, the sheriff and a whole work crew blew up the entrance of the cave while they were stuck in there with the spider. I think Mike needs to find himself a new girlfriend.

Mike Simpson: This whipped fool is Mike. Looks kinda like a deer in the headlights don't he? He's Carol's boyfriend and the one who keeps getting suckered in to almost getting killed in her crazy, harebrained adventures. He's really just a stupid kid who lets himself get led around a lot, but at least he doesn't actively do stupid things that cause more problems for people. That's Carol's job.

Sheriff Cagle: This is the sheriff. He was totally not taking this whole giant spider thing seriously. That is, he wasn't until him and his posse had their first run in with it and his deputy got all beat to snot. This picture here is the sheriff looking like a total sad sack after that first encounter. He looks kinda sick too. Wonder if it was the half-a-tanker of DDT they sprayed all over the cave before they came back out. Either that or he ate some bad cheese at the catering truck before they shot this scene. Hell, if he did he should go back in the cave. I'm sure whatever's gonna be coming out of his butt in about five minutes will be way the hell more deadly than that DDT ever thought of being.

Mr. Simpson: This is Mike's father. He runs the local movie theater where they apparently only show Bert I. Gordon movies. He also gets sworn in by the sheriff when the spider is running amok. Other than that he really doesn't do much of anything in this movie except hang around and act as a cheauffer to Mrs. Flynn at the end of the movie. Ok, I think I've wasted enough time on him, let's move on.

Mrs. Helen Kingman: Maybe if I can stop drooling long enough I'll be able to tell you who this chick is. Oh man... This is Mr. Kingman's wife, and god is she hot. Not much to say about her really since she wasn't in the movie all that much...but oh man. He's one lucky dude.

Hugo the Janitor: If this guy looks familiar, there's a reason for it. He played Fred Ziffel in that great old classic TV show, Green Acres. In this movie however, he plays Hugo, the loveable old janitor. Well, he's not that loveable, and he's not all that smart either, because he let himself get suckered into letting a whole bunch of kids in the gymnasium where the "dead" giant spider was on display. He wasn't supposed to let them in there until after the guys from the university came to pick up the spider. Oh well, there goes his job...and his life too since the spider woke up out of it's coma and killed him. Then again, he only had a bit part in this movie, so he wasn't destined to be around all that long anyway. Jeez, it must really suck losing two jobs and your life all in one day. Don't cry for him though. He went on to play Mr. Moody in The Decks Ran Red, right after he did this film. Plus throughout his career he was in one-hundred and forty one films and television shows, so it's not like he had a hard time finding work.

Mr. Fraser: This dweeby lookin' guy is Mr. Fraser. He's another one of the High School teachers who was standing around in the gymnasium talking about the spider with Mr. Kingman. At some point the spider has a reflex twitch and knocks him on his butt, but other than that he really didn't have any part in this movie. I just threw him in here because I happened to get a good shot of him.




Screen Shots

This is the face Carol's father made just at the exact moment his truck ran into the spider web and he careened off the road to his impending death. Coincidentally, this is the same face he makes when he's having relations with Carol's mom, takes a poo, stubs his toe, bangs his funny bone or gets a prostate check. Hey, when something works for ya, go with it!

 

 

Ooh! Science!

 

 

"Look Mike, I know it was nice of Joe to lend us his car, but gosh darn it, his this windshield is just too short and all the bugs are sticking in my hair!"

"Well if you're worried about them sticking in your hair & stuff, you could always sit up a little higher and open your mouth. It'd be like having an early supper."

"Oh Mike, you're so thoughtful."

"Oh I'm full of great ideas. Hey, here's an even better one! You can get out of the bugs all together if you just lean over in the seat here and put your head on my lap. In fact, go ahead and try that instead and then we'll see if any other good ideas pop up."

"But if I do that, how will you be able to drive?"

"Oh that's ok baby, you can work the stick shift for me."

"But I don't know how to drive a stick."

(mumbling) "That's not what Joe said."

"What?"

"Oh, huh? I didn't say anything."

"Oh man, Carol. I don't know what happened to your father, but this looks like a bad sign."

Reviewer's Note: Yes I know it was bad, but I couldn't help myself.

"Ok mister, what are you doin' in this cave? And what's the idea scarin' my girl?"

"Oh, hey kids. I was just in here boning up on my studies of various rock formations when I ran into this big hairy monster. He gobbled me up and a couple days later I popped out of his back end lookin' like this."

"Oh yeah? We'll I'm not afraid. I got a big hairy monster of my own."

"You do Mike?"

"Yeah baby, and if you're nice to me, I might just show it to you later."

"Oh Mike, you're the best!"

"Damn right!"

"So the prostitute says she wants twenty bucks, right? So I say to her, 'Just a second baby, I left my wallet out in the car.' So I go out in the car right, and suddenly I get a call on the radio."

"Was it that robbery we had the other night?"

"Nah, it was my wife. She went down the station lookin' for me. Cool as a cucumber I drove back to the station, and when I walked in she asked me where I'd been."

"What'd you say?"

"I told her I was down at the orphanage helping out the kids with their bake sale."

"Did you get away with it?"

"Well, I probably would have if I'd have been wearing my pants."

"Man, you must have bailed out of there in a hurry. What about the prostitute. Did you remember to pay her before you left?"

"Oh crap, I forgot. Here. Here's twenty bucks. Give this to your sister will ya?"

"What? ......HEY!!!"

 

 

"So tell us Mr. Spider, what exactly happened down there in that cave?"

"Well, I was just hangin' around the cave, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, that gang of jack booted thugs busted in on me and gassed the place! That's why I called this press conference. I'd like to announce right here and now that I'm suing the River Falls Sheriff's Department for fifty million dollars."

"Fifty million? Wow, that's a lot of dough. What will you do with the money if you win?"

"Are you kidding me? Hookers man! And lots of 'em! Hey, I hear the deputy's got a sister that's goin' cheap. Think I'll give her a call."

Jeez, talk about a shameless plug! This is outside of the local movie theater. Bert I. Gordon made The Amazing Colossal Man the year before he made this film. Coincidentally, the sequel to that movie, War of the Colossal Beast, is the second feature on this DVD. Also, when Mike walks into the theater to take a phone call from Carol, there are lobby cards in frames on the wall for The Amazing Colossal Man and Attack of the Puppet People, which was yet Another Bert I. Gordon masterpiece. I didn't get the shot of that one because it would have been too small and you wouldn't have been able to see it anyway. Mike also mentions the puppet people one in the phone call saying that his dad just got it in today and he hasn't even seen it yet. I just thought it was way funny that he threw this stuff in here, so I thought I'd mention it.

This is, er...was Deputy Dave. He tried to ride to the next town on his motorcycle to get help after the spider took out the long distance phone lines. As you can see, he didn't make it. Funny how when you get all your goo sucked out by a giant spider, you end up looking like some kind of an alien mummy creature thingy. Actually, he kinda looks like that Eddie character from the band Iron Maiden? Check out their album covers. I think you'll see the similarity there.




Best Quotes

Sheriff Cagle: "Well, bring your bug juice and let's go ."
Pest Control Guy: "Say, what are we using it on?"
Sheriff Cagle: "Does it make any difference?

- Sheriff Cagle talking to the pest control guy after he drives up with his buddy in a tanker truck full of DDT. - (Reviewer's Note: No, I guess it doesn't. That is, unless you were planing on having babies someday, or actually having anyone left alive in the country to sheriff over n' stuff.)



 

Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Earth vs. The Spider
Sheriff Cagle and the gang head down into the cave where the spider lives. The sheriff does a little bat hunting while Carol is off with Mike finding the corpse of her drained out, mummified father. Don't be upset though Carol. You could always soak him in water for a few days and then ran a few hundred thousand volts through him like they do with Keith Richards before the Stones go out on tour each time.


Summary and Conclusion

Well now, this is more like it. After reviewing a string of less than average films, I finally came across one that reminded me just what's so awesome about these old classics. Bert I. Gordon has created a real gem with this one, and here's what's so great about it.

This is basically a movie about a giant spider and how it terrorizes a town and kills a bunch of people. Its your typical giant monster scenerio found in so many of these films, but the big variable is in how the different stories are executed. In this case, it was executed beautifully.

The acting in this movie was really great for a film from this era. The guy who played Sheriff Cagle (Gene Roth), did a great job of playing the smart, yet not-so-smart law enforcement official...if you know what I mean. Basically, he wasn't smart in the ways of giant bugs like Mr. Kingman, but he had some decent level of common sense. He managed to strike just the right balance with the character, which can be so hard to do when you're trying not to over play either side. The only character that really felt a little off to me was Mike (Eugene Persson). He always seemed like he was bored or half asleep. Other than that, everyone did a phenomenal job with their roles.

The effects in this movie, while cheesy looking, were all quite fun, decent looking, and well done. As with most of his films, Bert I. Gordon's wife Flora worked with him on the effects. Most of the major effects found the spider creeping around in its cave or parading through town tearing stuff up and killing people. The only thing I found less than stellar about the spider, and this is really sad considering how well done the shots were, was the sound that they used for it. I don't know if spiders actually make any sounds, but this one did, and it sounded like some guy, probably Bert I. Gordon himself, or some other guy from the cast or crew, making weird, high pitched, screechy sounds with their mouth. It totally didn't fit the spider and what you'd think something that huge and creepy would sound like, if in fact it had the capacity to make any sound at all. Again, I don't know if spiders make noise or not, but even if they did, I know it sure as hell wouldn't sound like that.

The scenes in the cave were all really well done and looked pretty nice. As you can see from the filming locations at the top, some parts of this were shot at Bronson Caves and Carlsbad Caverns. Many of the cave scenes that were shot from a distance were mostly effect, although they still looked pretty decent.

What you have here really is just a perfect example of a classic, 50's b-movie. It's got everything you could possibly want. An entertaining story, good characters, a big ugly montser, annoying teenagers, dead bodies, skeletons, destruction and mayhem. Hell, there's even a couple of shameless plugs for the director's other movies so you know what to go see next! What more could you possibly ask for?

Lions Gate Home Entertainment has released a series of double feature DVDs called the Samuel Z. Arkoff collection. These films, while made by different directors, were all produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff for American International Pictures. On this particular DVD, we have this film paired up with Bert I. Gordon's other 1958 spectacular, War of the Colossal Beast, which is the sequel to his earlier film, The Amazing Colossal Man, which he plugged so shamelessly in this film. These DVDs from Lions Gate don't have any special features, but the quality of the transfer is really good and generally very clean. You definitely won't be disappointed with the product.

So what is there left to say really? Bert I. Gordon made some really cool, really fun movies, and this film is yet one more example of that. I guess the best way to describe it is, it's one of those movies you'd have caught on saturday afternoon TV if you were a kid back in the 70's like I was. If you weren't...now's your chance, thanks to the modern marvel know as DVD. So definitely pick up a copy of this film and add it to your collection. You won't be sorry. That is, unless you have no taste or sense of fun or anything like that. Since you're spending time reading through my reviews though, I'm betting you do.

 

B-Movie Central's Rating: 5 Bees!

 

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