Not much goes on in the town of Merrill Wisconsin, till now. What appears to be a meteorite crashes into the pasture of a local farmer, Dan Kester (Robert Easton) and his wife Ev (Leslie Parrish). When they investigate they find dead cows and what looks like round rocks. They manage to crack one open and it falls on the floor. Inside is a spider that skitters away. When Dan retrieves the two halves he finds what looks like diamonds inside.
At the same time the meteorite crashed a B-52 flying near-by crashes. At the local observatory Dr. Jenny Langer (Barbara Hale) calls NASA to report unusual Gamma ray activity. Thinking that the two may be related Dr. Vance (Steve Brodie) is sent to check it out.
A helicopter is sent up to investigate the area. From the chopper the pilot sees a distortion in the field where the meteorite when down. He takes a picture for Dr Langer and Dr. Vance. The doctors decide that the distortion in the field is due to a space warp or a miniature black hole in the middle of the field.
Earlier Ev had picked up a bunch of the round rocks from the crash site and brought them home. Soon the rocks start breaking open and spiders and spider webs start popping up all over. The small tarantula size spiders from the rocks grow quickly and start eating anybody near-by. The Queen spider gets bigger and begins to attack cars and buildings. Langer and Vance deduce that a gateway has opened between this universe and an alternate universe. Now all they have to do is find a way to close it.
“The Giant Spider Invasion” was released in 1975 and was directed by Bill Rebane. This piece of gorgonzola was fun on some levels and so-so on others. It starts out a little slow and the characters are, for the most part bland. When the spiders start to show up is when the fun begins.
The movie is reminiscent of the giant bug movies of the 50’s. Although the ants in “Them” 1954 were a lot more believable. These look more like really big plushies. That’s a good thing.
The Queen giant spider is a VW beetle with fake fur and legs worked by puppeteers inside the car. The car was driven in reverse. The red taillights were used as the spider’s eyes. The smaller spiders were puppets.
The production was plagued with problems. One scene had the giant spider crushing the house by dropping it from a crane. At the same time a bulldozer chained to the back of the house would pull it down. When the shot was filmed the spider’s legs shot up into the air. The puppeteers inside working the legs were nearly killed when wood from the smashed house went straight through the spider nearly impaling them.
During another failed shot a big spider in a tree was supposed to burst into flames. The spider was covered with gunpowder and two crew members sitting above it were to drop a match on the spider. The shot was to be filmed in slow motion. After a couple match drop attempts the crew members dropped an entire book of matches on the gunpowdered prop. Nothing happened. The director turned off the camera. With the camera off the spider exploded into flame. The hair on the crew members was singed and several small brush fires were kindled. Director Bill Rebane was pissed at not getting it all on film. He once referred to the film as “The Giant Spider Disaster” in an interview.
The giant spider was once compared to the stupid looking bird in “The Giant Claw” 1957. I love that googly bird. The film was a surprise box office success and was one of the top 50 grossing movies of 1975. I liked it.