Teenagers & their high school science teacher join forces to battle a giant mutant spider.
“50 TONS OF CREEPING BLACK HORROR!”
“Bullets Won’t Kill It! Flames Can’t Hurt It! Nothing Can Stop It!
I seem to be in a real 1958 mood lately. My home drive-in has been screening movies from that year, or thereabouts, for a couple of months now. Perhaps it’s an attempt to teleport back to an earlier, more innocent, time of my life. Not that I was alive in 1958. That would make me about as old as I feel. No, but I watched a lot of movies from 1958, or thereabouts, in the 1980s on my favourite weekly television event – Not Quite Classic Theatre.
Earth vs the Spider (1958) was not one of those movies… or was it? It so perfectly fits in with all of those giant bug movies that I saw, that it COULD have been one that came on around two in morning one night. But I don’t think so. I have no memory of it from back then, which doesn’t necessarily prove anything, but… It’s not part of that group of Universal Pictures that I specifically remember being aired. It’s a smaller independent production by Bert I. Gordon, who made a lot of movies about giant monsters, and little people, and all of that good stuff. Attack of the Puppet People (1958) and War of the Colossal Beast (1958) would be two examples – also released in 1958! What a glorious year that was. Not that I can remember it. Only the glimpses of it I saw while riding the 1980s time travelling TV machine.
It’s hard to imagine now that those movies were less than 30 years old when I first saw them. They had seemed so ANCIENT to me – and very different from the brand new movies of the 1980s. Now those movies of the 1980s are almost 40 years old. I wonder if they look ancient and strange to the kids of today who might watch them on late night TV. Not that anybody does that anymore thanks to streaming services, DVDs, etc. No one has to stay up late to see a monster movie these days. And that’s a shame, I think. But I digress…
I think I would have loved Earth vs the Spider when I was a kid. It’s got everything a monster fan could hope for. Okay, it’s not as good as some of those Universal B-movies like Tarantula (1955) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), but how could it be? Earth vs the Spider is just good, silly fun.
One of the standout moments for me this time around, was when the two romantic leads, Mike and Carol (played by Eugene Persson and June Kenney), are sitting in their high school science class, and Carol says to to Mike “Can you borrow the car from Joe?” So the boy leans forward and taps Joe on the shoulder. He turns around and looks like a grown man of 40.
“That guy’s in high school?!” I said to the cat on the seat next to me. “No, he must be a teacher sitting amongst the teenagers…”
It became obvious that the character of Joe is indeed supposed to be a high school student. I looked up the actor, Troy Patterson, afterwards. He was 35 when he made Earth vs the Spider. I couldn’t help but notice that he died on age 51 (or 32 in Earth vs the Spider years).
What more can I say about Earth vs the Spider (1958)? It’s got a giant spider. The giant spider kills people and runs amok in town. It’s got a rock band rehearsing, and teenagers dancing – unaware of the danger that lurks right behind them. It’s got a 35-year-old high school student. It’s got everything! It’s the kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I used to stay up all night for. Used to…? I’ll be doing it again tonight – and each and every other #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.