Spider, Man: 65 Years of ‘Tarantula!’ (1955) – Retro Review

I am absolutely terrified of spiders. But, I absolutely love Tarantula! (1955), which initially premiered in Philadelphia on November 4, 1955. This classic sci-fi film was directed by, Jack Arnold (The Creature From the Black Lagoon 1954) and starred John Agar (Revenge of the Creature 1955).

Although the film was released by Universal, it is not considered a true monster movie. Along with THEM! (1954), Tarantula! helped ignite the wave of giant insect films, most notably The Deadly Mantis (1957).

What I love most about Tarantula! is its simplicity. It’s not scary, but it does give you the creeps. A giant spider terrorizing a town is anyone’s worst nightmare. But Tarantula! does it right, and it doesn’t pull any punches.

One of my favorite aspects of the film is the special effects, I love how they made a normal spider look so big. Although for some sci-fi movies of the era, filmmakers would make giant costumes or rubber models, Tarantula! stays true and uses a real spider. I think that adds to the to realism of the movie and makes it even creepier.

Another fun thing about this classic is that we see a glimpse of a young Clint Eastwood. Eastwood plays a fighter pilot, and though most of his face is covered, you can still see his famous eyes.

I remember being very young when I first watched Tarantula! and even then, I loved it. My grandmother one day bought me the VHS of the film, and I’ve adored it ever since… even as an arachnophobe. It’s the perfect blend of great acting and cheesy elements that make 50s sci-fi endearing.

Clint Eastwood, Tarantula
Clint Eastwood in Tarantula!

Even 65 years after its releases, Tarantula! is still regarded by many as one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. The 1950s in general were a haven for horror and science fiction. From The Creature From the Black Lagoon to Gojira (1954), the 50s had it all. And Tarantula! helped pave the way and set the standard for giant insect films.

A true classic, this simple movie about a mutated spider still stands the test of time. Even in 2020, I still watch it and enjoy it quite a bit. If you haven’t seen Tarantula! give it a watch. It’s well worth it.


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