Jack Arnold’s Tarantula! delivers everything you’d expect from a giant spider movie. By everything, of course, I mean it offers up a giant spider. But wait, there’s more! Want to see men deformed by acromegaly — a growth hormone disorder, in this case, brought on by science experiments? Tarantula” has plenty of that, too! How about an uncredited appearance by Clint Eastwood? It’s here, people. Not enough? How about seeing a former Playboy centerfold as an aspiring mad scientist lab assistant? Well, Tarantula! delivers that in the eye-catching form of Mara Corday.
The man she’s supposed to work for, Prof. Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll), has been trying to do good work, but he’s ended up creating deformed humans and giant animals. Of course, this includes a giant spider, which does a lot of stuff one might expect a giant spider to do. However, it doesn’t just wander around aimlessly stepping on pesky little humans. It also has the ability to pick clean cattle carcasses. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not familiar with spiders large enough to skeletonize a cow. It’s another fine detail which wins this film points. In fact, the film seems to even be successful among critics like Leonard Maltin, and even Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 92% “Fresh” rating!
The film also stars John Agar, who did both normal films and B-movies. As he once said: “I don’t resent being identified with B science fiction movies at all. Why should I? Even though they were not considered top of the line, for those people that like sci-fi, I guess they were fun. My whole feeling about working as an actor is, if I give anybody any enjoyment, I’m doing my job, and that’s what counts.” That’s the spirit!
There really isn’t much more to say about this movie, honestly, except I’d like to talk a little about acromegaly. It might be a unique word, but you’re no doubt familiar with the condition, Assuming you or a loved one don’t have it, you’ve certainly seen people who have it. These include Richard Kiel, the actor who plays “Jaws” in James Bond movies and Mr. Larson in Happy Gilmore. Then there’s motivational speaker, Tony Robbins.
Some pretty famous wrestlers have it, too, like André the Giant and Big Show (who even I’ve heard of, despite not being a huge wrestling fan). Also, both Lurches from The Addams Family have it: That’s Ted Cassidy (TV) and Carel Struycken (movies). Also, two actors from the sitcom The Jeffersons (Irwin Keyes and Paul Benedict) rocked it. The condition also figures prominently in the film plot of The Monster Maker (1944), which isn’t as good as Tarantula! but still worth checking out.
What are your thoughts on Tarantula!? Let us know in the comments!