Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: The Giant Spider Invasion

With a name like The Giant Spider Invasion, you expect that giant spiders will invade Earth and cause a ruckus. Well, in that aspect this movie did not disappoint. However, the movie did manage to disappoint in nearly every other way possible. Yet The Giant Spider Invasion is one of those movies that is so bad that it's good, and made for a rather humorous episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The Giant Spider Invasion was made in 1975 and was directed by Bill Rebane, who made a career out of directing low budget horror films like this one. The movie stars a bunch of people that made their living doing guest spots on TV shows and playing small roles in movies, including Alan Hale (The Skipper on "Gilligan's Island") and Barbara Hale (no relation, but she did play the role of Della Street in the Perry Mason series). A few notes about this episode, and yes there are spoilers ahead:

- The movie takes a while to get going, choosing to introduce the characters of the film before the spiders start their invasion. This isn't a bad idea, however, the characters are so unlikeable that I just couldn't wait for the spiders to start killing people off. The worst of which is white-trash farmer Dan Kester (Robert Easton), who cheats on his wife, and tries to bed his much younger sister-in-law all in one night. His wife, Ev (Leslie Parrish), is a woman that is either drinking some alcoholic beverage or offering sarcastic remarks towards her husband, although it's hard to blame her considering the lout she's married to. Then there's the sherrif (Alan Hale), who seems like a pleasant enough fellow but spends the entire movie either eating or telling bad jokes or on the phone. Not to mention the stuck-up sexist NASA scientist Dr. J.R. Vance (Steve Brodie), who looks like a heavier Mean Gene Okerlund with a bad rug on his head, and sucks as a scientist to boot.

- The movie starts off with a giant explosion that takes place in Dan Kester's pasture at night. Dan, being the genius that he is, decides that now would be a good time to crash the bed instead of checking out the GIANT EXPLOSION on his property. At the very least, he could have got the heck out of there. Then again, I probably would have done the same thing. There's a man who crashes his motorcycle, and then something happens to him. You can't tell what, because the camera shot has no light whatsoever, and this would not be the first time that the film was shot in almost complete darkness.

- So, with a giant crash out in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin, NASA decides to send it's top man, Mean Gen, I mean, J.R. Vance, to meet with a Dr. Langer (Barbara Hale). This leads to a hilarious scene where the two meet, and Vance assumes that he's meeting Dr. Langer's husband, then her father, than her brother, before finally Dr. Jenny Langer informes the pig that it is actually she that has the appointment with a dumbfounded Vance. I guess J.R. Vance is a man from a simpler time, where women weren't astronomers and stay at home in the kitchen. Personally, I was hoping that Langer would slug Vance, but no such luck. Unfortunately, that was the last interesting scene in the movie involving the two until the end.

-  Eventually, the giant spider makes his appearance after a subplot of the farmer and his wife finding that all their cattle have been mutilated, but they found diamonds in some rocks (Of course, they failed to notice the spiders that were in each rock, to the point where Ev fixed herself a Bloody Mary without noticing the spiders in the blender.) Normally, I'm not the type of person that roots for the monster or bad guy in films, but in this case, I was cheering for the Giant Spider as if the Falcons scored a touchdown. First the spider kills off Ev, which is unfortunate but not a big loss, but then the Spider disposes of both Dan and his lecherous Charles Manson look-a-like cousin Billy. The spider should have been given an award from the townspeople for that alone.

- The giant 'spider' in this film was actually a bunch of spider legs around a Volkswagen Beetle. In one scene where the spider attacks a slow-pitch softball game, you can actually see the tire tracks the 'spider' leaves behind in its wake. Well, at least it's better than some crappy CGI image of a giant spider that would be used in a film like this today.

Overall, this movie has a lot of issues. For one, there are multiple scenes where Alan Hale is talking on the phone with someone and you're supposed to hear what's being said, but the audio is so low that you can't make out what they are saying. There's a couple of other scenes where you can't hear what the characters are saying, and there are quite a few scenes that are so dark that there's no telling what's actually happening. The effects are cheesy at best, the acting is mostly second rate, and the plot is easy enough to follow, but full of holes. Nevertheless, it's such a cheesy movie that it's actually quite funny even without the digs given by Mike and the Bots, and there are certainly worse movies to watch. Overall, the movie would get about a 2.9 out of 10, but the episode is a solid 7 out of 10. Remember, if you have any ideas for future reviews, or comments about this or previous reviews, then send them to me either by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com or by leaving a comment on the blog.

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