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Film: The Giant Spider Invasion

"Giant puppet invasion!"
Crow T. Robot

A 1975 film from director Bill Rebane that dares to show that yes, there are rednecks living well north of the Mason-Dixon line, and no, covering a Volkswagen with fake fur and sticking legs on it does not make a convincing giant spider.

A meteorite crashes in Merrill, Wisconsin, leaving behind an ominous "wormhole" in the impact crater and a bunch of geodes scattered across a really unappealing farmer's property. Between belittling his alcoholic wife Ev, visiting the local prostitute, and threatening to spank his wife's teenage sister, Dan Kester attempts to sell the extra-dimensional rocks to his equally unappealing cousin Billy, but is miffed when the jeweler informs him that they don't have much value. The farmer is distracted from his monetary woes when it turns out the"geodes" are actually eggs, which hatch to release first a swarm of tarantulas, then badly-made dog-sized spider puppets, and finally the Volkswagenspinne.

While the assorted arachnids do their best to clean up northern Wisconsin's gene pool, a pair of scientists wander around ineffectually before airdropping a device that manages to close the wormhole and melt the spider-car. There are a couple of B-plots, including a fire-and-brimstone preacher's revival, a missing motorcyclist, and a young couple's quest to find a place to make out, but that's about it.

The cast is populated by famous has-beens including Alan Hale Jr. as a dumpy sheriff, Barbara Hale as a lady scientist in a pantsuit (sadly not a Hot Scientist), and Steve Brodie as a morbidly obese NASA scientist.

Bill Rebane has decided to turn The Giant Spider Invasion into a stage musical, and why not? He hopes it'll have legs.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.


Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: One of Alan Hale's first lines as the sheriff is "Hey, little buddy!"
  • Actor on Board: Robert Easton, who played Dan Kester, also co-wrote the script. Apparently it had a very serious tone until he added jokes.
  • Actually, I Am Him: In a painfully unfunny bit of humor, Dr. Vance is surprised to learn that Dr. Langer is of the feminine persuasion.
    Servo: Ah! Humor of the 1840's!
  • The Alcoholic: Ev evidently subsists entirely upon liquor and bitterness.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: We can only assume the alien spiders didn't land in Wisconsin on purpose.
  • Artistic License - Astronomy: A black hole in a meteor lets the spiders into our dimension! Our only hope is to bombard it with science! Believe it or not, not only would a black hole probably not be a portal to the spider dimension, it would just kinda compress everything within the local area to a state of you die. And you can't just feed it until it's full.
  • Asshole Victim: Dan
  • As the Good Book Says: Though he plays no point in the plot besides an excuse for Dan Kester to visit a whore, the hellfire-flinging preacher is a recurring character who even gets to rant over the closing credits.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: By the titular menace.
  • Deep South: Despite its location, Wisconsin apparently has one.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Ev, making the hillbilly stereotype complete.
  • Fanservice: Gratuitous shots of Ev and Terry in their undergarments.
    • Fan Disservice: We also get to see gratuitous shots of Dan Kester in his underwear.
  • Giant Spider: The title promised only one and it delivered.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The giant spider's eyes are actually the taillights of the Volkswagen from which it's built.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Spectacularly averted. You can barely see anything during the finale.
    • An early scene between Ev and Dan is shot so far away and in so much darkness that it's almost impossible to make out what they're saying.
  • I Ate What?: What was in that drink?!
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The sheriff's "joke" after meeting Vance.
    Sheriff: Oh, I used to take physics. But now I find that ...prunes do the better job for me. Heh heh!
  • Jerkass: Dan Kester. Probably the only person in the movie who actually likes him is the town hooker, and that's likely because he's a frequent customer.
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Doctor Vance forgets the flares and needs to run back to the car and get them.
  • No Ending: It just... stops.
  • Nonindicative Name: Averted. There's only one giant spider, and it only shows up in the last ten minutes of the movie. So, yes, a giant spider invasion.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Sheriff loves to be a Troll. He actually gets Dr. Vance to describe what the function of Gieger counters are, listening with false rapt attention. Dr. Langer stops Vance from making a complete fool of himself by stating the Sheriff is aware of what radioactivity is.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: They're full of spiders, for one thing.
  • Parrot Exposition: "What's that? Repeat what you say to provide exposition?"
  • The Seventies: And HOW. Especially disturbing when Alan Hale Jr. sports a mod haircut, making him look like Gertrude Stein.
  • Spit Take: In one of the film's nearly-effective scenes, a tarantula sneaks into Ev's morning booze while she's blending it, creating a few tense seconds as she and Dan pass the spider-smoothie back and forth before Ev tastes it.
  • Sole Survivor: Almost the entire Kester family gets killed (And There Was Much Rejoicing) the only Kester who doesn't die is Terry (and there was even more rejoicing), and even then she sits the last third of the movie out due to being put into a coma (no rejoicing there).
  • Stealth Pun: One of the few jokes in the movie that almost works is actually fairly subtle - Vance asks Langer if "your local sheriff will support us", a gag on the western movie Support Your Local Sheriff.
  • Take That: The sheriff remarks that the spider "makes that shark from Jaws look like a goldfish!"
  • Talking to Plants: Dr. Vance does this to his office plants. It doesn't add anything to the movie, but hey, every bit of characterization helps, right?
  • Technobabble: Whenever Vance and Langer try to figure out where the spiders are coming from.
  • Troll: The Sheriff seems to be one. He feigns ignorance on Geiger counters and is fully prepared (with an impish grin on his face) to listen to Dr. Vance explain radiation (and possibly all of physics) til Jenny tells him that the Sheriff is pulling his leg.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: An excuse to have the heroes backtrack to discover some hatched geodes.

The Giant Gila MonsterMystery Science Index 3000 The Girl in Gold Boots
Grey GardensFilms of the 1970sIlsa: She Wolf of the SS
The Giant Gila MonsterHorror FilmsThe Gingerdead Man
Death Race 2000B-MovieIlsa: She Wolf of the SS

alternative title(s): Giant Spider Invasion; The Giant Spider Invasion
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