Thursday, November 4, 2010

Earth vs. the Spider (1958)

I might have the mind as an eleven year old boy and a body like a mega-hunk, and that might be the reason why I love the work of Bert I. Gordon so much. He gives the young boys and girls in us energy, that special feeling of watching something awesome a Sunday morning or a late Friday evening. Something that never really happens with new movies (no, I’m not one of those tragic I-hate-all-new-movies-people), but is closely connected to vintage midnight movies and Sunday TV-screenings of black & white classics.

A long time I ago I watched Earth Vs the Spider on tape, and I obviously forgot that over the years until I gave my new DVD a spin. The story isn’t unique or anything, it’s just a classic teenagers find giant spider, police kill giant spider, giant spider is placed in the middle of the sleepy little American town, spider wakes up and wrecks havoc! You know what I mean. The budget seems to be fairly low and there aren’t any graphic combat scenes between spider and man, but there’s enough giant spider to keep everyone happy.

Bert I. Gordon knows that he hasn’t the biggest budget in the biz here, and uses small details to enhance the action to something special. For example the violent burst of blood in the beginning of the movie, the crying baby on the street, the woman caught with her skirt in the car door. Those small details make so much difference. Like some extra chili pepper in the Bolognese.

All the backgrounds in the cave were shot in the Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Gordon then shot the rest in an idyllic backlot at Universal Studios and some exterior scenes at the famous Bronson Canyon. He then added actors and action to the interior of the caves, which works a lot better than it should on such a small budget and hurried shooting schedule.

As the business man he was (and still is), he also promotes two of his other movies in this movie, War of the Colossal Beast and Attack of the Puppet People. They came the same year, 1958, and its great way of giving them an extra boost! My favourite scene is when the spider wakes up again though, after hearing some loud and “danceable” teen-music! If I was a spider, and would have felt the same way too!

But I think the main success with The Spider is Bert I. Gordon’s talent of storytelling. It’s easy to forget that behind all overgrown creatures and dancing teenagers. Gordon can tell a story, the editing is effective and camera work and light is always above average. The budget might be low, but there’s a lot of heart and passion in his movies. After reading his book I get a feeling he’s just a normal guy who wants to entertain the kids, not present us a message or a deeper meaning, but just make us go away from that boring reality for a while where big spiders and puppet people attacks!

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