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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 ... 6
Reply #9. Posted on December 30, 2000, 09:25:43 PM by Chadzilla
As far as my six year old son is concerned, the pesky star of this monster mash sucked out all the color (thus making the movie black and white).  Although more than a bit dated in its lingo and look that only makes it more endearing to me, a fun monster movie.  Jack Arnold knew how to make them good.
Reply #10. Posted on January 27, 2001, 12:01:57 AM by LW
I love this movie! My 4 year old son loves watching them too. One of my favorite parts is the tasting of the venom! I also liked how the filled the syringe with the growth serum in an isolation chamber and then open the lid to take out the syringe. Then the doctor squirts the air bubbles out of the syringe as he walks across the room. It is a classic!
Reply #11. Posted on June 21, 2001, 12:20:52 PM by Bill
I like this film a lot.  The coolest thing is that it was based in part on an actual scientific experiment where they fed chickens growth hormones and the chickens got, naturally, meatier.  This was known as the Superchicken Experiment, but the creators of this film thought a Tarantula would be scarier than a giant chicken no doubt.
Reply #12. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by lostmissy
I like the 50's b/w ..I admit it up front. this movie is a good quality film for the time ..special effects were as good as that time allowed..and the acting was at least reasonable. I would argue plot and character development in these films were better then the 70's and 80's when the special effects became the main thrust of the movies..the best comment I can make is that I would love to see this film on the big screen.  
Reply #13. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by clint
Look for a young Clint Eastwood in his movie debut as the (uncredited) leader of the jet squadron that attacks the tarantula in the film's climax.
Reply #14. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by BoyScoutKevin
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."
He was as good of a statistician, as he was a scientist. When he said the population of the world was going to be 3,625,000,000, in 2000, he was only off by 2,375,000,000, give or take a few million.
Acromegaly. There is at least one man who made a career out of that rare disease. Rondo "The Creeper" Hatton. Voted the handsomest boy in his high school. Apparently, contracting the disease, when he was gassed in WWI, he went to Hollywood and made many films there, usually as the villain, before he died there of a heart attack.
Someone once said the small spider was scarier then the larger spider, because you could see the larger spider coming for miles and run like heck in the opposite direction. While, you would be checking behind every rock for the smaller spider, waiting for it to jump out at you.
There may be some truth to this. I found the spiders in "Arachnophobia" alot scarier then the spider in "Tarantula." Though, that may be a product of age. I remember being scared by the spider in "Have Rocket Will Travel," when I was a child. Enjoy!
Reply #15. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Swamprat
Another Fifties B Monster classic. Like the BLOB and the origianl THING, this is really a tight little B film. Decent effects for its day, a rambling little plot line, and reasonably good characters. The spider roaming the desert looks quite good, even by todays standards. Far better than the giant ants in THEM. THEM was a far better film in my opinion, but the special effects weren't nearly as good. Radiation could do wonderfull things back in the nifty-fifties...giant ants, giant Army Captains, giant crabs...but it takes a good old fashioned mad scientist to turn out a top notch giant spider like this one. A young Clint Eastwood dropping napalm on the sucker is just icing on the cake. There were at least a half dozen giant spider movies made over the far as I know this was the first one with the spider in the starring role, and I still think it was the best. Did any of you guys know that there was a giant spider scene in the original cut of KING KONG? It was on screen for less than a minute. But after the movie the sample audiance was still talking about the spider and seemed to have forgotten all about the giant the scene was cut before general release. I've seen a still photo from the scene, but the film snippit is considered "lost"...what a bummer. If you're looking for B monsters from the golden age of B monsters, Tarantula is a hands down winner. Watch it with a Coke on election day then go out and vote for IKE as a write-in canadate. Kill a Commie and don't forget to kiss Mom on the check when she serves you a piece of that warm apple pie during the baseball game on TV, then grab your best girl and drive off into the sunset in your Chevy...God Bless America...remember you have the future ahead of you. Of course, this includes Vietnam, LSD, Kent State, Disco, and Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu...but all that is another story...
Reply #16. Posted on February 16, 2002, 04:06:28 AM by vdantev
Even as an avowed arachniphobe, I watched this with no real troubles because the thing was so g-ddamned big !! High marks for the special fx for such and early movie.
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