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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] 4 5 6
Reply #17. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Bill Gunnels
Is this the same Jack Arnold who produced and directed the giant-spider episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND?  If so, was the movie parody intentional?
Reply #18. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by jim
>>For a film set in southern Arizona, it looks alot like a film shot in southern California.
Leo G. Carroll. Everybody's favorite mad scientist. Probably best known for playing Mr. Waverly in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.">>

Carrol was best known for his playing the title role in the mid-fifties TV show, "TOPPER"...

...I saw this film when it came out and I was six years old. It scared the bejesus outta me, and to this day I still remember it. I was doing a search for a pic from the movie when I stumbled on this Tarantula review page. IT'S GREAT!!! I havn't seen the movie in almost fifty years and to see the video clip is SO COOL, thanks! I remember the final scene vividly where the spider gets napalmed and burns like the Hindenburg. I sure hope I get to see this film in it's entirity again before I check out of this earthly realm.
Reply #19. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Silvestre Aguirre
In  my opinon this is the best sci fi film of the 50'.Iam trying very hard to get it on DVD but with little luck.
Reply #20. Posted on June 08, 2004, 10:18:52 PM by night heron
A TARANTULA wow its a big sucker JUMPIN JUPITER and if you get a look at the pilot flying the jet and listen to him you will find out he is CLINT EASTWOOD during his RAWHIDE  days
Reply #21. Posted on July 11, 2004, 01:37:49 PM by firebird
I have this movie on video cassette and wow its real great and this is before they had compuerised special effects and much better then 8 LEGGED FREAKS becuase the big spider looks more scary and menacing and about the part where it invades the ranch and gose for a horse and the rancher and the other sceine where the two men are driving their pick-up and you can hear sheep or goats bleeting but you see none in the back of the truck and a giant spider can send a pick-up truck sailing through the air
Reply #22. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by JesseGriffin
Another Universal Classic. *****
This one is LONG over due to be remastered in widescreen on DVD. (Clint Eastwoods first movie appearence).
Reply #23. Posted on August 14, 2004, 08:36:06 PM by killdeer
How about the mutant in the PJs wandering through the desert before he dies its a wonder those hovering vultures did get their tail feathers scared off them and the akermagalia i realy think it was made up though the movie is great and the giant spider ITS A TARANTULA peeking through the window (peeping tom sex fiend)and when the monkey returns to the profesor it looked like somebody threw the monkey at him
Reply #24. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Manuel Antares Richard Sanchez
    "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smelled like...tarantula!" (see also: 'The Crawling Eye') Makes Eastwood's day!
    "I am not an animal. I am a mad scientist!" With apologies to Rondo Hatten and Joseph "John" Merrick, this one of the early big screen uses of acromegaly as a plot element of which I am aware. Holy Cosmo Topper!
    Whatever you do, stay the hell away from Vasquez Rocks! Not only is it favored by oversized arachnids, but interplanetary insects ("The Zanti Misfits") and reptiles (the "Gorn") find it prime real estate as well! To tell the truth: the latter weren't exactly glad to be there either.
    As regarding the size of the spider. While there is something to be said about "smaller being scarier" and the constant threat of being surprized (I don't I'd be actively checking behind any rock or outcrop) - that's all I'd be: surprized. My doom would be instantly upon me. No time to think, just die.
    One comfort however slight: those same rocks or boulders hiding the spider of proportionate size, would hide me as well, provided I wasn't discovered by other means i.e. being upwind of the critter or sumpthin'. Those obstructions would also be its handicap.
    Far more dreadful then is, I feel, the idea of being out in open country with no where to run and no way to outdistance a 100' high terror rapidly closing the miles between us. You have all that time in which to contemplate your certain death.
    Still, on balance, Heaven forbid it should be bearing down on me from behind the crest of a hill, that is to say, a much bigger rock.
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