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"Giant puppet invasion!"
Crow T. Robot
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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.

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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. Robert Easton, aside from being a 60 year acting veteran by the time of his death, was famous for his ability to do two hundred convincing regional accents, became known as "The Man of a Thousand Voices", and was the best Hollywood dialect coach. One might wonder why Bill Rebane was able to hire them for his B-Movie — the simple reason was that all of those actors were born-and-bred Wisconsinites who knew Rebane very well, and used the film as a way to visit their families.

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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 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!
    Crow: So, you've had a sex change?
  • 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. A small black hole will dissipate after time, however, as micro-black holes do in colliders, unable to sustain itself.note 
  • 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.
  • Background Music: What little music was in the film was stock music from the KPM library.
  • Deep South: Despite its location, Wisconsin apparently has one.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Ev, making the hillbilly stereotype complete.
  • Eldritch Horror: Technically, the spiders count, as they're from another dimension. The little ones are clearly more toxic than earth spiders as well as coming out of strange geode-ish eggs lined with diamonds, and then there's the giant Volkswagenspinne.
  • Fanservice: Gratuitous shots of Ev and Terry in their undergarments. Terry even gets a topless scene in the un-MST'd film. Helga has a scene early with a see-through robe and no bra, unfortunately, it also coincides with:
    • Fan Disservice: We also get to see gratuitous shots of Dan Kester in his dirty, stained long 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 doing.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: What was in that drink?!
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Vance sounds and looks drunk in the scene where he and Dr. Langer discuss how to close the black hole. One could speculate that seeing the spider drove him to the bottle.
  • Jerkass: Dan Kester. Terry remarks that he drove Ev to drink. 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.
  • Male Gaze: We're treated to a zoom in on Terry's cleavage when she talks about how she's an adult, and another when the camera zooms in on her panty-clad butt for no reason after she shoos Billy out the door in the un-MST'd version.
  • Mock Guffin: The diamonds found in the geodes that the spiders come out of. Ev and Dan Kester think that the diamonds will make them rich. Cousin Billy says that they aren't worth much; but then again he also shows interest implying that he might have been lying about their true value. In any case, they don't factor into the plot other than having Dan go out and gather more of them to get killed by the mother spider.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Ev not-so-subtly hits on Dave, saying if she were younger, she'd "jump" him. Judging by the tone of her voice and seductive posture, it's not a prerequisite anyway.
  • No Ending: It just... stops.
  • Nonindicative Name: Averted.
    • There's only one giant spider, and it only shows up in the last thirty minutes of the movie. So, yes, a "giant spider" invasion.
    • There's also thousands of little spiders, a handful of medium sized ~3ft spiders and a ~10 foot spider that briefly captures Billy's car. So, the invasion was giant as well.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Sheriff loves to be a Troll. He actually gets Dr. Vance to describe what the function of Geiger 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 '70s: And HOW. Especially disturbing when Alan Hale Jr. sports a mod haircut, making him look like Gertrude Stein.
  • She's All Grown Up: After Ev gets eaten and Dan and Terry don't know or worry where she is, Kester remarks that maybe he should have married Terry, remarks was only 11 at the time. Dan remarks she's not 11 anymore, while checking her out. She replies, along with a closeup on her cleavage:
    Terry: Now I'm 35-24-35.
  • 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).
  • Spit Take: Ev's reaction when she finally does taste the Bloody Mary with a blended spider as a surprise ingredient.
  • Stalling the Sip: 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.
  • 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Dan Kester's cheating on his wife with the town bicycle, and for her part Ev calls up Dutch at one point and tells him that she'll be very grateful if he brings her some booze quick.

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