Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spider Baby (1968)

Title: Spider Baby or The Maddest Story Ever Told
Director: Jack Hill
Writer: Jack Hill
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner
Studio: Dark Sky Films

Spider Baby is an old black and white horror film that really surprised me when I saw it. The high tech visuals and gore of the 21st century have made me so jaded that I normally can't sit through an old time horror picture. Spider Baby is different though. The story is so strange that it grabs your attention from the beginning. Without giving too much away here is the basic plot.

The Merrye family suffers from a syndrome, caused by years of inbreeding, that results in each family member mentally regressing back into childhood once they reach puberty. This is odd in itself, but in addition the afflicted also exhibit homicidal tendencies once they reach their childlike state of mind. There are two teenage girls living in the house along with their older brother. The brother is played by Sid Haig (who most recently played Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects). Haig's performance is unforgettable, and it really kept me interested in the movie. Even though he plays the older brother to the two girls, he is older in appearance only, because the older the members of this family get, the younger their minds become, so Haig spends the whole of the movie acting like an infant. It is hysterical at times and adds some much needed comic relief to this disturbing movie.

The name Spider Baby comes from Jill Banner's character, Virgina. Virgina is one of the teenage sisters and she loves to play a game she calls "Spider," where she traps unsuspecting visitors to the house in nets then proceeds to "sting" them with knives.

The family obviously can't take care of themselves, with the parents in a worse off condition than their children on account of the syndrome, so the family chauffeur Bruno (played by Lon Chaney Jr.) has been watching over the household for the past few years and only he knows the truth about this strange family and it's secrets. This movie is extremely hard to classify or explain and I feel that if I write anymore that I will reveal too much. As with most movies, this one is best viewed knowing as little as possible.

Favorite Quote:

Bruno, the Chauffeur: "Just because something isn't good doesn't mean it's bad."

RATING: 7/10

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