Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley; story by Fresco and Arnold
Universal International Pictures
First viewing/Netflix rental
This is a very solid example of the giant mutant animal genre. Also may be your only opportunity to see Leo G. Carroll in fright make-up!
As the story begins, a disfigured man in pajamas staggers out of a rock formation in the desert and collapses, dead, on the ground. He is identified as the associate of preeminent biologist and medical doctor Prof. Gerald Deemer (Caroll). Deemer diagnoses the cause of death as a rare glandular condition. Local MD Dr. Matt Hastings (John Agar) is not so sure.
We segue to the Professor’s lab where he is doing some kind of experiments that have resulted in giant animals. He is attacked by another horribly disfigured and enraged man he addresses by name. In the struggle, the lab catches fire and a tarantula the size of a German Shepherd escapes.
Student scientist Stephanie Clayton arrives to work with the dead associate. Professor Deemer takes her on. She soon becomes an item with Dr. Hastings. The rest of the movie is devoted to the increasingly desperate attempts to rid the desert of the growing arachnid.
This, together with Them!, is up there with the cream of the crop of giant creature movies. It is tight and enjoyable. The creature effects aren’t all that spectacular but they work and it is 1955 after all. Recommended to fans of the genre.