GenreHorror, Sci-Fi ScreenplayBert I. Gordon LanguageEnglish
WriterLaszlo Gorog, George Worthing Yates Release dateSeptember 1958 (1958-09) CastEd Kemmer (Professor Art Kingman), June Kenney (Carol Flynn), Eugene Persson (Mike Simpson), Gene Roth (Sheriff Cagle), Hal Torey (Mr. Simpson), June Jocelyn (Mrs. Jack Flynn) Similar moviesTarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula, Spookies, The Giant Spider, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter
TaglineThe Spider will eat you alive!
Earth vs the spider 1958
Earth vs. the Spider (a.k.a. The Spider and Earth vs. the Giant Spider) is an independently made 1958 American black-and-white science fiction-horror film produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon, who also wrote the story upon which the screenplay by George Worthing Yates and Laszlo Gorog is based. The film stars Ed Kemmer, June Kenney, and Eugene Persson. The special effects were by Bert I. Gordon and Paul Blaisdell. Earth vs. the Spider was released by American International Pictures on a double bill with either The Brain Eaters or The Screaming Skull.
Jack Flynn is driving down a highway at night, looking at a bracelet he has bought his daughter for her birthday, when he hits something and his vehicle crashes. The next morning, his teenage daughter Carol is concerned that her ne'er do well father did not come home last night. She convinces her boyfriend Mike to assist in a search for her father. They find his crashed truck and the bracelet, but not his body. Thinking he crawled into a nearby cave, they investigate. In the cave they fall onto the gigantic orb web of an enormous tarantula, which emerges from behind some rocks to get them. They manage to escape and make it back to town.
Carol and Mike have a hard time convincing the sheriff about the giant spider, but with the help of their science teacher, Mr. Kingman, they return to the cave and find the missing man's body, drained of fluids. The spider attacks again convincing the sheriff, who orders large amounts of DDT to kill the giant spider. The apparently lifeless body of the spider is taken back to town to the high school gym where Kingman wants to study it. A group of teenagers uses the gym to practice rock and roll numbers they are going to play for a school dance. The music awakens the giant tarantula and it crashes through the wall of the gym. The janitor, stopping to call the sheriff, is killed.
The spider terrorizes the town, killing a number of people before it heads back to its cave. The sheriff, along with Kingman, use dynamite to seal the spider in, but then discover Carol and Mike had gone into the cave to retrieve the bracelet her father had bought her. Kingman acquires a couple of large electrodes from the power company and runs cables to some power lines as the tarantula is descending on a strand of web to get at the trapped teenagers. Kingman and Mike use the electrodes to electrocute the spider. The arachnid falls, impaling itself on stalagmites at the bottom of the cave.
The film's original on-screen title is Earth vs. the Spider, but when The Fly (also released in 1958) became a blockbuster, the title was shortened to just The Spider on all of the advertising material. The original screen title, however, was never changed, so the film is frequently referred to by the title Earth vs. the Spider.
The movie theater in which Mike works displays a film poster prominently advertising The Amazing Colossal Man, while the marquee shows that it is currently running Attack of the Puppet People, which happens to also star June Kenney. Both of these films were also directed by Bert I. Gordon. Attack of the Puppet People was the last film Bert I Gordon made for AIP for a number of years, with the director claiming the studio had not paid him appropriately. However, he returned to AIP in the 1970s.
Some of the cave interiors were filmed using stills from Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, with live action scenes filmed at Bronson Caves in Griffith Park near Los Angeles.
Critical response for Earth vs. the Spider has been mixed. Bruce Eder from Allmovie gave the film a positive review, calling "the most consistently entertaining, if not the best of Bert I. Gordon's various size-oriented fantasy-sci-fi films". However, Eder noted that the film's special effects were dated.