Film Review: The Giant Spider by Duane L. Martin
Originally posted at http://www.roguecinema.com/article3776.html
There's a giant spider creeping around the town of Phantom Lake, and it's eating everyone it comes across. Now, when I say giant, it's described in the film as being about the size of three barns. Judging by the scale used in the various shots of it, I think that's probably a fairly accurate description. But how do you stop such a creature? The military has their ideas on the subject, but because of the spider's size and the toughness of its outer body, their conventional weapons have little to no effect on it. It's up to a plucky newspaper reporter named Howard Johnson (Daniel Sjerven) and a team of university scientists to come up with a way to kill the thing without poisoning, burning or nuking the population of Phantom Lake.
Christopher R. Mihm makes retro b-movies. In fact, he's made quite a few of them now, and he's gotten very good at it. In fact, "The Giant Spider" is not only far and away his best film yet, but it represents a huge technical leap forward for him in his filmmaking technique, as in this film for the first time, a real tarantula was used and inserted into the scenes in a way that any 50s b-movie maker would have been proud to see.
Not only that, but for the close ups of the face of the spider that were used right before the spider eats someone, they made an absolutely fantastic looking b-movie monster spider face puppet. When I say fantastic, that's not even a strong enough word. I mean it was fun and just awesome looking.
Christopher R. Mihm has used many of the same people in his casts over the years, and this film is no exception. Daniel Sjerven has been in several of Mihm's films, as well as Shannon McDonough, who plays his Polish fiance Zita (including the accompanying Polish accent) in this particular film. Christopher R. Mihm's wife Stephanie makes another appearance, as do his children. Various other familiar faces can be seen throughout (including Christopher R. Mihm himself playing the owner of the drive-in theater), Sid Korpi as a naggy wife, Mike Cook as the head scientist, Mark Haider as the general, Michael Kiaser as the deputy and many others.
There was one new face in particular, or at least one I didn't recognize offhand, that I wanted to acknowledge as well. During the drive-in theater part of the film, there are two bible beaters standing outside the theater yelling at people to repent and one of them is wearing a sandwich board sign saying, "The end is nigh!" I wanted to mention that guy in particular, because not only was he a great actor, but man, he was funny! His name is Rob Wartick, and his line delivery was just killing me.
The film contains constant references to things in past films, but the nice part about that is that you don't have to have seen the past films to appreciate this one. There are references made in passing, and if you get them it adds to the fun, and if you don't, you won't think anything of it.
Also, you can't watch one of Chrisopher's films without having the subtitles turned on. There are so many funny little things in the subtitles throughout the film, that it really adds to the enjoyment of it all. For example, subtitling someone's expression in a funny way, or subs for the sound effects of people kissing. If you don't watch his films with the subtitles on, you're missing out on a big part of the fun.
This film, as with many of his others, also has a selectable Esperanto dialogue track and Esperanto subtitles. Who speaks Esperanto? I have no idea, but if you do, there's a language track and subtitles for you. The film also includes commentary tracks, which makes for some entertaining and informative repeat viewing.
For special features, the DVD includes:
A blooper reel.
The film's trailer.
A photo gallery.
Previews of other Mihmverse films.
Five episodes of "Commander Lambent: Space Explorer...In Space"
Film introductions by Dr. Ivan Cryptosis and Christopher R. Mihm.
Behind the scenes commentary with Christopher R. Mihm, Stephanie Mihm, Mitch Gonzales, Mark Haider and Cherie "Rhuby" Gallinati.
Director's commentary with Christopher R. Mihm.
I am so impressed with this film, I can't even express it in words. Christopher R. Mihm has taken a huge step forward with this one. It's got a great monster, perfectly selected music, great special effects, some great laughs and a whole lot of fun. It even has two original songs which, to my knowledge, none of his other films have ever had. The theme song, "Giant Spider Theme", and "Spider Smash," both performed by The Night Hobs. For you classic car buffs out there, he's got something for you as well. There are a whole bunch of great old classic cars in this film, including an awesomely gorgeous old motorcycle, complete with side car!
I simply can't recommend this film enough. Make sure you grab yourself a copy. It's a great film to watch with the whole family and all of your friends.