The Giant Spider Invasion
the giant spider invasion | bill rebane | richard l. huff | robert easton | steve brodie | barbara hale | spider | space | sci-fi | united states | leslie parrish | alan hale jr. | bill williams | kevin brodie | diane lee hart | tain bodkin | paul bentzen
Film: The Giant Spider Invasion
Director: Bill Rebane
Writers: Richard L. Huff and Robert Easton
Starring: Steve Brodie, Barbara Hale and Robert Easton
This is a movie that I didn’t hear about until podcasts. What made me decide to watch it was for an October movie challenge. This fulfilled a few different categories like a regional film, one from Bill Rebane and featuring insects. This is a cheat since spiders aren’t insects, but I digress there.
Synopsis: giant spiders from another dimension invade Wisconsin.
We start this movie off with the credits and seeing what looks like a shoot star. It heads for Earth. We then shift to a small town in Wisconsin. Davy Perkins (Kevin Brodie) works for his father’s newspaper. We see him go in to talk to the sheriff, played by Alan Hale Jr. Davy tells the sheriff about having a date with Terry (Diane Lee Hart) and we learn her family is a bit rough.
She lives with her older sister, Ev (Leslie Parrish), who is a drunk. We get that as she comes on to Davy when he shows up to pick up Terry. Ev is married to Kester (Robert Easton). He is a bit of a slimeball though. He is cheating on his wife with Helga (Christiane Schmidtmer) who works at the local bar.
That night, there is a disturbance in the sky. It draws Ev and Kester outside to see the spectacle. She wants him to go out to the pasture to see what it was, but he refuses. They aren’t the only ones who saw it. Davy’s car won’t start which forces him and Terry to walk home. The government also notices.
Dr. Vance (Steve Brodie) works for NASA and he’s sent to this small town. It is there that he meets Dr. Jenny Lager (Barbara Hale). He reveals to her that a military airplane went down nearby. They share information about things that happened and seek out the sheriff to alert him as well.
The next morning, Ev pushes Kester to go check the pasture. What they find is that their cows are dead. That isn’t it. There are these odd rocks out there as well. They bring them home to discover they’re filled with diamonds. That isn’t it. There are also spiders. Dr. Lager and Dr. Vance realize that whatever fell in this field has high levels of radiation. There is a reason for that and these aren’t normal spiders coming from it.
That is where I’ll leave my recap as well as introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that I knew coming in that this was low budget. I tend to have a soft spot for movies like this, especially from the 1970s. They had to make things work and Rebane seems to be one of the better guys at doing this from what I gather. He wasn’t as talented as George A. Romero, but that’s a tough guy to compare to.
Where I want to start delving deeper would be with science fiction part of this. This introduces that whatever is happening is from space. Dr. Langer is an astronomer. When we meet her, she is at the planetarium telling students about the different celestial bodies. There is also a sexist scene where she meets Dr. Vance, who works for NASA. What I like about this though is that we have two experts to explain things to us. There also isn’t much pushback from the sheriff. Just enough to make this believable so I give credit there.
With the science fiction aspect set up, I like that we aren’t dealing with normal spiders. Now I’m from the Midwest as well. Not Wisconsin, but from Michigan and live in Ohio. My understanding is that we don’t have spiders like this here. I like that by involving space as well as potentially a portal to another dimension, we get to have giant ones. This does a great job of just using big ones that look like tarantulas. They also go with practical effects for the ones that don’t occur in nature. I commend that. With the time, I’m assuming we also get superimposing of images that I didn’t mind. This is done in the sky during the opening and when it crashes in the field behind the house as well. These don’t look great, but I have a soft spot here. I should also include that the attacks on people looked solid as well.
Next will be the acting. It is funny that the characters here feel like they could be from my hometown. They are written mostly as bumpkins who are flirting with trashy. That could be said at least for Parrish as Ev, Easton as Kester, Hart as Terry and others that live outside of town. I’ll be honest, they felt real there. I also though Hart was quite attractive. Steve Brodie and Hale are good as our scientists. It is fun to see Alan Hale Jr., who I know as the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. Kevin Brodie is also solid in his role. I’d say the rest of the cast was fine in rounding this out for what was needed.
The last things to go into then would be with the filmmaking. I’ve already said what I need to with the effects. They are cheesy, but I’ve seen worse. I commend them for doing what they could to make it work. When the cinematography is pulled in tight, that is where they benefit the most. Going along with that, I think that this is shot well in capturing the area this is taking place. It felt like home to me. Other than that, I think that the soundtrack as solid. There is a creepy vibe to it with almost a synth feel that we would get in the next decade. Overall, despite the lower budget, I think this is made well enough.
In conclusion, this a fun movie. We are taking something what we deal with every day like spiders and making a ‘what-if’ scenario. The regional filmmaking quality adds an element for me since it feels like where I grew up. I’d say that how this made was solid for the budget they had to work with. The acting is about the same. We aren’t getting award winning performances here, but they feel like real people. This isn’t a great movie, but I did enjoy my time with it. It doesn’t outstay its welcome so that is another positive. There is also ‘do it yourself’ special effects that have a soft spot in my heart.
My Rating: 6 out of 10