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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent remastering of a minor gem
First off, one must realize this black and white film was made on almost a zero budget, and some of the people involved, such as the cinematographer and the musical score composer, practically devoted their talents for free. This is all explained on the excellent extras. This is NOT a bad movie at all, in my opinion, and the acting is wonderful, but it is a dark comedy...
Published 15 months ago by orvuus

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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars wouldn't frighten a baby
I like weird films (the weirder the better) - David lynch, Bunuel or Dario Argento - but Spider Baby is not particularly unusual resembling a bland TV series rather than a proper film. Sometimes promises but never delivers anything of interest, too much dialogue (especially from Lon Chaney Jr) boring to look at, WARNING to lovers of the weird avoid like the plague.
Published 18 months ago by M P Crouch


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent remastering of a minor gem, 29 Sep 2013
By 
orvuus (Birmingham, AL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
First off, one must realize this black and white film was made on almost a zero budget, and some of the people involved, such as the cinematographer and the musical score composer, practically devoted their talents for free. This is all explained on the excellent extras. This is NOT a bad movie at all, in my opinion, and the acting is wonderful, but it is a dark comedy -- not designed to "scare" anybody. It has creepy moments, but it is still overall intended to be rather humorous. If you appreciate fine cinematography, this is one reason to view the film -- here the black and white print is crisp and clear (shot in 35 mm), and what's more the principal set had no electricity, so a lot of it had to be lit rather cleverly. I just think it's a real delight, and it is a cult favorite of sorts in the U.S. A really fine job from Arrow, once again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With theme song by Lon Chaney, jr. (!!!???!!!), 22 Mar 2014
This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
When a film opens up with a raspy-voiced Lon Chaney, Jr. ardently singing the title song, it almost comes with a guarantee of a weird trip ahead. Spider Baby (1964) does not disappoint.

Some commentators have likened Spider Baby to Eraserhead (1977), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 ), or TV’s “the Addams Family,” while others have erroneously categorized it as “surreal.” If we have to give comparisons, we might find it to be the most idiosyncratic film in the “Old Dark House” genre (and yes, that includes Rocky Horror Picture Show). Still, even that is not adequate. Spider Baby is a maverick that defies all labels.

Writer/director Jack Hill‘s credits include Boris Karloff‘s unfortunate Z-grade Mexican horror films House of Evil (1968), Fear Chamber (1968), Isle of the Snake People (1971), Alien Terror (1971); the women-in-prison jigglefests The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972); the Pam Grier blaxploitation vehicle Foxy Brown (1974); and Switchblade Sisters (1975-the title says it all). All of these are lucid examples of trash cinema; Spider Baby is a one-of-a-kind inbred sibling to the lot.

The casting of Lon Chaney, Jr. is, for once, near ideal. 1930s horror icons Karloff and Bela Lugosi each had an air of European mystery in their screen personas. 1940s horror second banana “sort of” horror icon Chaney, Jr was pure American white trash. When Universal tried to cast Chaney in the Karloff/Lugosi Euro mold, the results often ranged from laughable to cringe-inducing.

Chaney, Jr was, of course, unfavorably compared to his father and has received a lot of bad raps from critics past and present. Most of those raps are well deserved, but it was not his legendary father who proved to be the ultimate detriment to his career. It was Chaney Jr.’s role as Lennie in Lewis Milestone’s Of Mice and Men (1939) that rendered an insurmountable yardstick performance. Chaney could never equal his Lennie, much in the same way that Lugosi could never live up to Dracula (1931).

Unfortunately, off-screen Chaney proved to be considerably more brutish than Steinbeck’s gentle giant, which helped seal his inevitable career failure. Other factors in his decline included alcoholism, drug abuse, typecasting, trying to live up to his father’s image, and (reportedly) self-loathing regarding his latent homosexuality.

Executives at Universal didn’t help. After the success of Man Made Monster (1941) and The Wolf Man (1941) Universal cast Chaney Jr. as their new horror star. Somehow the studio was oblivious to Chaney’s strengths and weaknesses. Astonishingly they cast the hulking, phlegmatic actor as a grand guignol romantic lead with a Clark Gable-like mustache in the Inner Sanctum films. Son of Dracula (1943) was an even worse case of miscasting with Chaney as the Transylvanian count who must have been living off an excessively high-calorie blood intake.

Few of Chaney’s 200 plus films are of merit, but he did have a handful of good character parts in films which knew how to use him. Spider Baby is among those, featuring his last performance of note. Chaney liked the script so much that he made an extra effort to lay off the sauce, much to Hill’s relief.

There is a touch of pathos in Chaney’s performance as the caretaker. He is close to Tod Browning territory here, seeing this misfit ensemble not as inbred cannibal freaks, but as family. Spider Baby is a far better way to remember Chaney than his actual last performances: Al Adamson’s equally trashy but dreadful 1971 duo Female Bunch and Dracula vs. Frankenstein (both of which try hard to make Ed Wood look sophisticated).

Chaney is helped tremendously by his co-stars, which include Sid Haig as a bald, deformed version of Carroll Bakker’s thumb-sucking Baby Doll (1956), Carol Ohmart as a well-worn, Z-grade Marilyn Monroe bitch of an aunt, and Jill Banner and Beverly Washburn as psychotic sisters.

The Merrye family is dying out, due to inbreeding and a “rotting of the brain.” Bruno (Chaney) is the family chauffeur who acts as their guardian. While Bruno is taking Ralph (Haig, perfectly embodying his character) to the doctor, Elizabeth (Washburn) plays “itsy-bitsy spider” with the mailman (veteran African American character actor Mantan Moreland). Ralph crawls out of the limo like a serpentine chihuahua. Torment floods Bruno’s eyes upon seeing what is left of the unfortunate courier. Virginia (Banner), doing her best Baby Jane Hudson imitation, cannot wait “to tell.” “It’s not nice to hate,” Bruno reminds the family, but it turns out this was simply a case of killing the bad news messenger; the message being news that heir aunt Aunt Emily (Ohmart) will be arriving this very day to throw out the lot of them. Emily brings with her the goofy but amiable protagonist Peter (Quinn Redeker). There is even a slimy caricature of a lawyer who might pass for a cross between Adolf Hitler and John Waters‘ father.

The Merrye house has a personality all its own, complete with rickety, ominous elevator shafts and a basement of dreaded family secrets. Alfred Taylor’s cinematography is an enormous asset, nearly masking the film’s meager budget. A perverted veggie “Last Supper” and a “don’t you dare do go there” consummation (which is, thankfully, subdued) are scenes that burn themselves into the memory.

Hill, for once not working on commission, conceived his child as a labor of love, and his attitude infected cast and crew. As bizarre as the script and direction is, it is an inspired cast that sells it. Dismemberment, incest, cannibalism and the budding sexuality of serial killers are all carried out with inexplicable charm. Still, even with fine work by all, it is Chaney who is the twinkle in the eye of the film’s hurricane.

* my review originally appeared at 366 weird movies
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror icon rather than outright classic, 18 July 2013
By 
Rob Simpson "noframeof" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
Now Spider Baby is not a good film, it's poorly made and many of the performances leave a lot to be desired. As an article in the collector's booklet suggests, just because something is a bad that doesn't mean it's beyond praise. The murderous kids are good value for money especially with Virginia (Jill Banner) `playing spider', turning something innocuous and playful sounding into a murderous game of spider and the fly. Another notable characteristic of the script is the way Bruno (Chaney Jr) interacts with people. Whether that means his incessant referencing of his deathbed promise with the children's father or his suggestive comments about hating being a bad thing, whenever the children go a little too far .

The glue that holds Spider Baby together is Lon Chaney Jr, he is subtle and simple, the perfect counterpoint to the hysterical acting and gung-ho progression. It's an awkward recommendation for horror fans. This brilliant re-mastering of Spider Baby should be seen by horror fans who aren't scared off by dated production values. It's a recommendation not because it's a classic or well made, but because it's the point where many horror tropes began in all their crude glory.

Arrow has done a real nice job remastering it too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars arrow video does another good cult release, 27 Jun 2013
This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
Another great release from arrow video, any one who like cult horror films must get this, great picture, plenty of extras and great artwork once again.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent release of this cult fave., 3 Jan 2008
By 
Mr. K. Arts "keirarts" (uk) - See all my reviews
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Owners of the excellent image release are probably looking at this and thinking, why bother? The image dis was great, with liner notes from joe dante, commentary from jack hill and a couple of featurettes and fans of the film such as myself have been very happy.
Out of curiosity I decided to give this release a try on the strength of other dark sky titles such as their definitive edition of texas chainsaw massacre and the supurb Who can kill a child?, and upon recieving this disc and watching it I can happily say any spider baby fan will find it well worth while owning both this AND the previous image release.
Why? you may well ask, well... this is a different cut of the movie with scenes incorperated that were previously only available as deleted scenes
a brand new commentary from jack hill and sid haig plus a 40 plus minute making of. Its worth keeping the previous release due to the extras not on this disc plus owning the origional cut of the movie; but this is far and away the best release yet.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 18 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
Cool movie!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic b-movie, 30 July 2014
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This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
It just plain weird but very enjoyable.
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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars wouldn't frighten a baby, 25 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
I like weird films (the weirder the better) - David lynch, Bunuel or Dario Argento - but Spider Baby is not particularly unusual resembling a bland TV series rather than a proper film. Sometimes promises but never delivers anything of interest, too much dialogue (especially from Lon Chaney Jr) boring to look at, WARNING to lovers of the weird avoid like the plague.
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Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD]
Spider Baby [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] by Jack Hill (Blu-ray - 2013)
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