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TARANTULA - 3 Slimes
Not Rated
Copyright 1955 Universal-International
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Dr. Matt Hastings - Dashing young medical practitioner.
  • Stephanie Clayton - Attractive woman who has arrived to study under Professor Deemer. Everybody calls her "Steve."
  • Professor Deemer - Scientist, he has almost perfected a growth serum. It works really well on tarantulas, not so good on people. Eaten by the spider.
  • Sheriff Andrews - Garrulous county lawman, but can he ever make a fashion statement...
  • Joe Burch - In an old b-movie the reporter is either the hero, or just along for the ride. I listed him fifth out of seven characters, which do you think he is?
  • Professor Jacobs - Research partner to Deemer, injects himself with the growth serum and dies after complications.
  • The Tarantula - Originally a cute little guy about the size of a sheep, it escapes during a fracas in the lab. Grows into a genuine monster before saying hello to napalm.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Not for people with Arachnophobia, though you honestly spend around half the film on other subjects. Like a group of men calling the only breeding female within sixty miles "Steve." Her name is Stephanie for crying out loud, not Steve. Steve is some guy you go drinking with, he's probably got hair in weird places, he's not a woman named Stephanie. (Well he might be, it's the nineties after all, but that's another subject.)

Time for a quick overview of the plot. Professors Deemer and Jacobs have been experimenting with a growth serum, when the latter becomes impatient he injects himself and the assistant with it. Unfortunately the experimental drug doesn't work quite right with humans, both men develop Acromegaly (a disease caused by overproduction of growth hormones) and die in a few days. Not before the assistant goes mad and injects Deemer with the serum though, in the ruckus a fire destroys much of the lab and we see the arachnid in question escape from it's cage into the desert.

This is what Stephanie finds upon arriving, the research team she wanted to join is either dead or mutating. Plus the Sheriff and Matt are trying to figure out what is killing cattle, people, heck - anything it wants. (You try telling a three-story tarantula no.) The amusing thing is nobody ever notices it wandering around, you'd think out in the wide open desert people would notice something like that... ...regardless, pretty soon it gets their attention. Not difficult to do after eating a house and then proceeding down the highway toward town.

After bullets and explosives fail to stop it the character's last hope is the U.S. Air Force. You'll be surprised at times by the effects in this movie, one or two of the scenes where it's walking along the landscape are quite good. Shortly after this it'll do something goofy, like seeming to walk on air.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Sheriffs are very fashion oriented when buying kerchiefs.
  • In a convertible going fifty miles an hour your hair doesn't move.
  • Steve is short for Stephanie.
  • Guys love rabbits.
  • Spiders constantly make a chirping noise.
  • If you find a puddle of thick yellow liquid you should taste it.
  • The number one cause of blackouts in Arizona is giant arachnids.
  • Most homeowner's policies do not include a "destroyed by enormous tarantula" clause.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Why is this movie starting off with what appears to be a Neanderthal?
  • 7 mins - You mean insinuating... ...I think.
  • 13 mins - Now that's a Guinea Pig.
  • 26 mins - Matt and, er, Steve didn't notice the thirty foot spider on the road?
  • 50 mins - Oops, the spider was walking on air for a minute.
  • 54 mins - Dude, you just ate spider spooge.
  • 80 mins - It's the tarantula versus the U.S. Air Force!

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note tarantula1.wav Matt: "Freaks of any kind give me the willies."
Green Music Note tarantula2.wav Matt: "You still trust my judgment after the Jacobs business."
Sheriff: "I ain't looking for medical advice doc, just company."
(Both laugh.)
Green Music Note tarantula3.wav Sheriff: "I can't figure it; there isn't a skid mark. We plowed through the wreck and found the brakes still work. Just like something grabbed the pickup and threw it thirty feet off the road."
Green Music Note tarantula4.wav Stephanie: "Do you think it'll work?"
Matt: "Dynamite's tricky stuff."
Sheriff: "It may blow it up, may just blow the highway up, dog gone I wish we had some nitro."
Joe: "I'll have to see that tarantula before I believe it."
Matt: "You'll see it Joe and you'll wish you hadn't."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliptarantula1.mpg - 2.8m
I think they have dynamite mixed up with Dursban, but does anyone know the concentration required for a tarantula this big? One million parts per million?

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 6
Reply #1. Posted on September 20, 1999, 02:33:06 PM by Dave of MonsterIsland
Oh man...what a great cheesy 50's movie....I love this and the Deadly Mantis....oh and not to mention the Giant Gila Monster...all those great giant bug/monster movies from the 50's ruled!!!
Reply #2. Posted on September 20, 1999, 03:17:10 PM by jimbo
I know a Tarantula walking over a blue-screen when I see one!
Reply #3. Posted on September 20, 1999, 04:47:26 PM by Dave of MonsterIsland
Here's the review I have posted on my cheesy movies site.


Dir: Jack Arnold

Yet another nifty fifties big bug extravaganza in glorious black and white!!! Loretta must admit a fondness for insects of almost
infinite kind--she often finds herself cheering for the bug, as in Deadly Mantis, that deadly dull b&w fifties delight reviewed not
too long ago. She thinks tarantulas most elegant and a little more deadly than the stunningly beautiful mantis. She kept hoping
her graphics sidekick would find a fiendishly delightful tarantula graphic, but . . . . She still worried about the fact that the
scriptwriters thought ONE big bug was enough in yet another fifties discussion of the insidious effect of the A-bomb unleashed.

In Tarantula, Leo G. Carroll poses as the mad-ish scientist running amok with one simple isotope. Loretta couldn't get enough
of the lab rats and guinea pigs as they filled their cages! Actually, the special effects are a class act here, almost rivaling those in
Them! . . . but Them! writers have the good sense to threaten the WORLD with an army of ants instead of one giant bug.

Loretta hooted any number of times as the one female star, Mara Corday--a statuesque Mamie Van Doren type, was given the
role of a scientist only to serve as handmaiden to our tall, dark, handsome country doctor of a hero, played by the
inesteemable John Agar. But . . . the special effects were stellar, given 1950's technology, and the action kept the narrative

Loretta thought it overkill that the entire ordnance of a squadron of bombers had to be dumped before our tarantula bit the
dust. She wonders if Clint Eastwood felt he had taken a giant step in bit parts from his earlier outing in Francis in the Navy!!

Loretta sez . . . "Give 'em the vote & see what ya git, a lady scientist!? Oh my!!!

Dave sez. . . . .Did I distinictly hear that tarantula roaring like a lion!?!?
Reply #4. Posted on September 21, 1999, 05:12:12 PM by stavner
This was based on an episode of an old '50s TV show called "Tales of Tomorrow."
Reply #5. Posted on November 09, 1999, 12:46:45 PM by Paul westbrook
I love movie about giant bugs. Who does not? This is one of the all time greats. Giant spider invades small town suburbia, terrizes everyone, heroes try their darndest to kill the thing, to no avail. The doctor due to radiation sickness becomes deformed, as a result. Finally, a simple solution is employed, and the beast dies. Dont you just love it. Get this gem, along with The Deadly Mantis. That is a great double bill for a late night moviethon.
Reply #6. Posted on April 12, 2000, 07:40:31 AM by Chris K.
Special effects are the highlight(better than watching a boring STAR WARS flick) of this impressive 50's sci-fi film from Jack Arnold. This would be the insperation for EARTH VS. THE SPIDER(1958) and THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION(1975). Watch for Clint Eastwood as a jet piolt. Acting, cinematography, settings, and script are A+ standards, but the special effects cannot be beat.
Reply #7. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Paul H.
This is absolutely my favorite big bug movie of all time. I grew up with this film back in the 60's, first owning it as a 5 minute quickie in the old 8mm home movie format, then taping the movie to listen to on a reel-to-reel tape recorder from The Late Late Show, and then finally buying it in VHS format a couple years back. What a classic flick. Who can forget the impressive special effects they accomplished on a meager budget. And the fantastic musical score still knocks me out. The scene where the horses sense something wrong just beyond the hill is truly creepy. Still gives me chills every time. I also dig The Deadly Mantis. Saw it at a Drive-In around 1961 when I was 6. I loved it, but didn't know what a mantis was then, so I thought it was a giant grasshopper!
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by BigGeek
Amazingly enough, it took the 'Hollywood Magic Makers" 45 years to come up with a spider-like contraption to marvel the macro-photography of _Tarantula_.

I'm speaking of the mechanical spider in the absolutely horrible 1999 Will Smith vehicle _Wild Wild West_.

Between _Tarantula_ and _Wild Wild West_...I don't think I remember any more impressive spider-type machines in movies. (And if anyone mentions any iteration of _Robot Jocks_...You will meet with certain doom! I said "impressive," people!)

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