1955's Tarantula was one of the first movies I owned on VHS. Dad and I would go to Media Play every other weekend (the finest brick-and-mortar establishment evermore), I would glue myself to the horror section and usually, I would come home with a creature feature. This was around...1996? Those were the fucking days, man. I have so many Media Play memories. It was where I acquired most of my collection, but tragically, the chain went belly up in 2006. Oh, right; this is a film critique. I'll save my Media Play chatter for another day. Tarantula is a Jack Arnold classic. Who is Jack Arnold, a golfer with a peripatetic slice that just can't be ironed out?
No, though I relish the opportunity to vamp with my golf humor. Arnold directed It Came From Outer Space, Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man. He knew his way around a sci-fi ostentation. I watched this flick quite a bit as an insular 12-year-old. Yesterday, I watched it as an insular 30-year-old, and wouldn't you know it, I enjoyed myself. It's easy to enjoy. For one, it runs for a humanitarian 66 minutes. I believe that all (yes, all) motion pictures should submit (yes, submit) at a little over the hour mark. That's my ADD talking.
When it comes to "giant insect" b-reels, the glory goes to Them!. And Them! totally rocks, but so does Tarantula. I noticed that the special effects are on fleek. Did I say that right? Goddamn it. Anyway, the methods used here are miniaturization and matte photography. We also see intricate make-up in the case of two deformed scientists, scientists who are not mad, might I add. Professor Deemer didn't mean for this to happen, but if I'm being honest, I'm not 100% sure what end he was trying to reach. He does mention living forever. How does that explain injecting animals with mutant growth hormone(s)?
Whatever. I mean, what good is immortality with an overzealous pituitary gland? Yikes! So a spider escapes from Deemer's laboratory and crawls across the desert plains. That's all there is to the plot. The viewer doesn't need more from this, a tightly-wound popcorn bedazzler. The pace is rollicking, the cast is fine and Nestor Paiva plays the sheriff. Did you hear me? Nestor Paiva plays the sheriff! He was the fuddled chieftan in the first two Gillman epics. Aw, you don't care. So Tarantula...come for the poster, stay for the special effects. That's my tagline.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:32 PM