Wednesday, June 10, 2015

THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975)

THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975) 


Label: VCI Entertainment 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English PCM 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Bill Rebane
Cast: Steve Brodie, Barbara Hale, Robert Easton, Leslie Parrish, Alan Hale Jr., Bill Williams, Kevin Brodie, Diane Lee Hart, Tain Bodkin, J. Stewart Taylor, Christiane Schmidtmer, William W. Gillett Jr.

Bill Rebane's giant-spider movie is a low-budget drive-in classic of the highest order, if what you ordered was a 70s schlockfest prone to unintentional laughter and corny creature effects. Which is not to say that it is not entertaining, because is most certainly an fun watch if you have that certain craving for b-movie creature features. The story... Okay, for starters we have a meteor crashing somewhere in rural Wisconsin and spawning a horde of giant spiders, which you probably figured out already from the title. Then we have hayseed Dan Kester (Robert Easton), the two-timing husband who regularly cheats on his lush wife Ev (Leslie Parrish) with the village cum-depository Helga (Christiane Schmidtmer). One night Dan and Ev witness a meteor crash - with a spectacular light show - they head-off to investigate and find a crater around which there are small softball sized stones, inside they discover what appear to be diamonds. What they don't notice is that the some of the stones also contain hairy-tarantulas that will grow to varying sized, most grow to the size of a small Chihuahua while the queen spider grows to roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. 

On the periphery we have an unscrupulous owner of a rock shop out to either steal Dan's new found jewels or possibly shag Ev's teenage sister. Then we have the Sheriff played by Alan Hale, Jr who you will know as the Skipper from Gilligan's Island! of course, his first line of dialogue onscreen is "Hey, Little Buddy!". enter two NASA scientists, Doctors Vance (Steve Brodie) and Langer (Barbara Hale) who arrive on scene to investigate not just the fallen meteor but the possible creation of a black hole in Dan's backyard!

Woo, this low-budget drive-in flick shoots for the Moon but only makes it as far as a field in rural Wisconsin, but there's a lot to enjoy about this schlocky slice of seventies cinema. Robert Easton is awesome as the hayseed Dan Kester and his wife is a riot, too. Don't feel too bad that her hubby is stepping out on her under the guise of attending church, for this lush is lusting after her own sister's teenage boyfriend, these two were made for each other. 

Watching a move called The Giant Spider Invasion you have to wonder just how awful does the giant-spider look, right? Well, it sort of looks like a Volkswagen Beetle wrapped in fake fur with eight huge pipe-cleaners making up the legs, because that's exactly what it is! The director crammed nine kids into the car to work the legs and keep it moving on film. It's cheap looking, and while not exactly pretty but I have to say that I loved it for how schlocky it was, this is exactly what you want from a bad movie. Truthfully, it looks pretty decent in the long shots and the close-ups of the creature eating victims with torrents of blood spilling out of it's mouth are just awesome - and way bloodier than I expected from the movie. 

Audio/Video The Giant Spider Invasion arrives on Blu-ray from VCI for the first time ever in the original widescreen aspect ratio which is a nice plus, having not watched previous home video version I cannot comment on how much better the transfer looks over other editions other than to say it's quite watchable, but not pristine by any means. A very flat HD presentation without the benefit of depth or clarity, fine detail is below average and the image can be soft. I am positive that this is the best the film has looked on home video though, I can pretty much guarantee that, just don't come in expecting a miracle restoration. The English language PCM 2.0 does the job, the score, sound effects and dialogue are well-balanced and free of distortion but the dynamic range is mighty narrow, optional English subtitles are provided. 


This three-disc edition is stuffed with bonus content, beginning with a new Ballyhoo Motion Pictures produced making-of documentary with the director who speaks about coming to America in the 50's and learning English by watching movies, his first disastrous foray into film making and ending up making industrial films before returning to feature film making. Also on disc one is an HD version of the Super-8 home video edit assembled from the restoration, plus a super lengthy image gallery comprised of still from the movie and clippings from newspapers. 

Onto the second disc, a standard def DVD we have over two-hours of Archival Interviews with cult-film director Bill Rebane and other members of the cast, crew and Super-fans from 2005-2008 and features numerous screenings of the film, TV interviews and footage from the 2005 Wisconsin Rebane film festival with Rebane and Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson of  Mystery Science Theater fame, who tackled the film on an episode MST3K.  we also get Archival Interview with the late actor Robert Easton as he looks back at his experiences on the set of the film. here's a nice Bill Rebane seven-minute introduction by Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson (of Mystery Science Theater fame) from the Bill Rebane Film Festival and newsreel footage of Rebane on the set of Rana, plus the original Super-8 Home Video Version, not the restored one, but a nice and scratchy print that while ugly as sin has a nice drive-in patina. 

Additionally, there's a bonus disc of containing The Giant Spider Invasion - The Musical and a mini-comic reprint of the original promotional 4 pg. comic, plus liner noted by Tom Stockman from WeAreMovieGeeks.com.

Special Features:
- New 2015 Documentary by Daniel Griffith – “Size Does Matter! Making The Giant Spider Invasion” (15 Mins)
- Bonus CD from “The Giant Spider Invasion the Musical” – 14 Rockin’ Tracks from the forth-coming Live Musical-Stage Play
- Mini 4 Pg. Collectible Comic Book Reprint
- The SUPER-8 Version (the original home media format!) (28 Mins)
- The SUPER-8 Version re-edited in HD! (30 Mins)
- Archival Interviews with cult-film director Bill Rebane and other members of the cast, crew and Super-fans (133 Mins)
- Archival Interview with actor Robert Easton (Kester) (17 Mins)
- Bill Rebane introduction by Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson (of MST3K fame) (7 Mins)
- Extensive Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery (15 Mins)
- Original Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots (8 Mins)
- Archival Newreel: Bill Rebane on the set of RANA! (7 Mins)
- Liner Notes written by Tom Stockman, WeAreMovieGeeks.com


Not a good movie, but a fun bad movie all the way around, and VCI have gone above and beyond with the extras on this massive three-disc set loaded with fun bonus content. If you love bad cinema, drive-in cult classics and schlocky creature features this is a must-own movie. 3/5

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