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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The MARCH of Death, Day 22: Spider Baby



If ever there was a film to be explained with words like: weird, icky, disturbing, and B-Movie classic; this is it. In 1964, Jack Hill gave birth to Spider Baby. A movie that for all intents and purposes had no business ever being made. Not only is this little number shocking and off-putting to levels I can’t quite wrap my head around; it’s a piece of subversive cinema that must have reeked holy hell on the startled viewers of the time. For those of you who only discovered Sid Haig in The House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil’s Rejects, you’re in for quite a treat. Just imagine that one of a kind head, same size, no beard, still bald up top, plopped on a much smaller frame. Haig was 25 when he joined the misfit cast and puts in quite a magnificent performance. Yet at the same time you can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He could obviously act, one can only imagine his lack of leading man good looks really hampered his career. Anyhow, I digress and will move on. The story centers around the last of the Merrye family. A small group who suffer from a degenerative brain disease (presumably from decades of inbreeding) that has turned them into homicidal savages. In a wacky turn, Lon Chaney Jr. plays the family chauffeur Bruno, who spends most of his time covering up the kids’ bloodlust. However, this all comes into jeopardy when some cousins and there attorney show up with plans to “restructure” the family. Plans which the Merrye’s strongly oppose. Spider Baby starts off with a graphic and bizarre prologue which I will not spoil. I will venture to say that if this scene hooks you, you will not be disappointed with the direction the rest of the narrative goes in. While not recommended solely for lovers of subversive cinema, the movie does require a specific taste. A taste that lingers in the back of your throat long after the Merrye’s wrath has ended.

Spider Baby
1964
Director: Jack Hill
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr. and Sid Haig

7/10 Farmhouses ~ Chris Conduit

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