Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968) - ★★★★

Director: Jack Hill
Writer: Jack Hill
Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig

Spider Baby is without a doubt, the best 'bad' movie I've ever seen. My family and I were in stitches, laughing at the madness that unfurled in this movie. The story is savagely hilarious, the dialogue is damned funny, the performances hit all the right notes, and most importantly, the events that take place are wickedly entertaining. From seeing a group of mentally challenged cannibals all locked up in a basement, to watching Carol Ohmart running around a field in nothing but her lingerie, Spider Baby truly does have it all. It's a cheaply produced, badly acted piece of cinema... but it's the funniest, most entertaining bad film you'll probably ever see. Ed Wood eat your heart out, this is bad cinema done right!

Our story takes place in a rickety old mansion way out in the sticks. In this mansion lives the inbred Merrye family, who suffer from a disease that causes their brain to deteriorate. This is no ordinary disease, for it gives them cannibalistic tendencies and a savage nature. The family chauffeur, Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.), looks after the three inbred children and the older inbreds locked in a basement. When Mr. Howes and his wife (Quinn Redeker, Carol Ohmart), show up with their lawyer to take the house away from them (for it is rightfully theirs due to inheritance), the murderous rage of the cannibals come out to wreak havoc.

Jill Banner was as hilarious as she was creepy.
I love this movie to death. It has such a creepy vibe. You might say it gave me the 'heebie jeebies.' I thought the performances, while not professionally sound, were perfect for this type of film. Jill Banner and Beverly Washburn played very convincing retarded cannibals, and delivered their dialogue in a naturally hilarious fashion. What made it even funnier were the reactions from Carol Ohmart, who was the main person they tormented throughout the film. These three were the life and soul of the movie.

Lon Chaney Jr. was very effective in his role as a caring, nurturing guardian to the inbreds. Even though his performance was far from perfect, he came across as such a lovely, stand-up guy. I couldn't imagine anyone else for the role to be honest. Chaney has a moving, infectious charm about him.

The list of highlights in this film is endless. From pet tarantulas, to Ralph (Sid Haig) dangling from the window to peak at Mrs. Howes undressing, to the hilarious murder scenes... Spider Baby just worked on every possible level. I'd have to say, the most memorable part of the film is seeing Carol Ohmart running away from the murderous cannibals, in nothing but black lingerie. Her breasts jiggling, her awkward jog in high heels, and her slow, silly pace, made it one of the funniest scenes in the film. 

So go see Spider Baby! If you love the films of Ed Wood, then this should be right up your alley. If you have a morbid, giant sense of humour, then I suggest you give this fantastic film a chance! It will throw many shocks, and many laughs your way!

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