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USA 1955
produced by
William Alland for Universal
directed by Jack Arnold
starring John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott, Edwin Rand, Raymond Bailey, Hank Patterson, Bert Holland, Steve Darrell, Eddie Parker, Clint Eastwood, Don Dillaway, Tom London, Edgar Dearing, Dee Carroll, James Hyland, Vernon Rich, Stuart Wade, Billy Wayne
story by Jack Arnold, Robert M.Fresco, screenplay by Robert M. Fresco, Martin Berkeley, music by Henry Mancini, Herman Stein, music suopervisor: Joseph Gershenson, special effects by David S.Horsley

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It all starts with Doctor Hastings (John Agar) investigating a man (Eddie Parker) who has died in the desert - apparently from acromegaly (a condition causing unnatural growth that eventually leads to death). Thing is, four days ago the dead man was fine and not in the least bit affected by the condition, and acromegaly is something that develops only very gradually. Doc Hastings starts having his doubts, but Professor Deemer (Leo G.Carroll), the local (mad ?) scientist and a colleague of the dead man, assures him everything is all right, probably even against his own better knowledge - because you know, Deemer and the dead man and Paul Lund (Eddie Parker again) have been experimenting with some growth serum, a serum that the deceased and Lund tried on themselves, and while the dead man has just died, Lund has gone mad, and now he wrecks the professor's lab and injects the professor with the growth serum as well, all before the professor can kill and bury him. Unfortunately, when Lund wrecked the lab, a tarantula injeccted with the growth serum escaped ...

At this point, some time is wasted with the blossoming romance between Doc Hastings and Stephanie Clayton (Mara Corday), and Hastings and the sheriff (Nestor Paiva) trying to figure out who's eating the local lifestock, before the tarantula, now grown to truly giant proportions (beyond the size of a house) decides to go on a rampage in the desert town where most of the action is taking place, and since it is immune to dynamite (?), it's finally disposed of using napalm, kindlydropped onto it by a fighter pilot played by the then virtually unknown Clint Eastwood ...


Though Tarantula is nowadays considered a classic by many, the film is less than perfect: An incredible anmount of time is spent with setting up the main plot, and most of the science used in these scenes is actually utterly ridiculous. Then there's the romance between John Agar and Mara Corday, which unfortunately slows down the film exactly when it's in desperate need of some action. Plus, the rather submissive role of Mara Corday probably will not sit too well with today's audiences (though this has to be viewed in the context of the time the film was made). The film's saving grace - besides a very compact, competent directing job  and great desert landscapes - is of course the spider action itself: The scenes with the spider (a real tarantula somehow copied into the scenery and even interacting with it at times) are (almost) totally convincing and actually amazing, considering the primitve technology they had in those days (CGI has yet to deliver something half as convincing, actually), anf furthermore the scenes are terrific. The last quarter of an hour or so are really worth your while and are really worth sitting through anything that happened before ... so in a way, the movie is totally recommendable - but probbly not all of it ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD