The Giant Spider by Ambush Bug
Originally posted at Ain't It Cool News
As I walked through the aisles of Chicago's Flashback Weekend a while back, the booth put together by Christopher R. Mihm caught my eye. First I thought the films stacked in front of him were classic releases I had never heard of before like "Destination: Outer Space," "Cave Women on Mars," and "Attack of the Moon Zombies," but I soon found out that these films were actually made within the last few years in and around Illinois. Of course, I had to check them out, being the lover and appreciator of not only new horrors, but remembering my roots as a small lad who grew up watching black and white monster movies just before cable came to be, when catching an old movie on late night theater or Saturday afternoon spook shows was the only way to see these films for a little ghoul in Central Ohio. I have a whole bunch of Christopher R. Mihm's retro-monster films I'm going to be checking out over the next few weeks, starting with his latest, "The Giant Spider!"
With little or no explanation aside from a radioactive cave in the middle of the woods, a boy playing in the same woods discovers a giant spider roaming about. Narrowly escaping the eight legged beast, the boy (Mihm's actual son) accidentally leads the spider to a populated area and soon the armed forces, the coalition of scientists, a rugged reporter and his Czech fiancée are the last line of defense between the roving multi-legged critter and the rest of the world.
Melodrama is set to scorching on this one as the talented cast do a great job at overacting in the manner that went hand in hand with old time monster flicks this one is homaging. The story is secondary to the chance to show the giant spider again and again crawling up behind someone and then looming in for the kill (which always happens off screen and none of the gore is ever seen, of course). Mihm does a fantastic job of aping the style of those old 50's atomic monster movies right down to the retro costumes everyone is wearing and the manner of speaking coming from their gobs.
Though low on gore, the effects are delightfully cheesy as a real tarantula is used to depict the titular monster. Through the magic of split screen, Mihm bucks modern CG for old school techniques to bring the spider to life. Fun animation and old war footage spliced together to barely fit the film stock also adds to the charm this film is oozing from every frame.
If you're one of those guys who mutters, "Oh that looks so fake!" whenever effects are used, this is not the film for you, but this being AICN, I imagine there are a lot of geeks out there that would dig this type of MST3K movie without the heckler shadows on the bottom. But if you really want new school snark to go with the old school movie, watch the film with the captions on which offer up hilarious terms for the sound effects and actions going on and add a whole new layer of fun to the mix. I'm looking forward to watching more of Mihm's work over the next few weeks. "The Giant Spider" is his latest and it was a hell of a lot of fun.