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Number: MVD7366BR

SPIDER BABY (BLU-RAY/DVD / 2 DISC) (BLU-RAY)

The credits dub this "the maddest story ever told", a promise that's well on the way to being fulfilled in the opening scene alone, when Virginia traps and kills a hapless deliveryman in her makeshift web. She's one of three siblings who suffer from a unique genetic disorder that causes them to regress back to childhood, while retaining the physical strength and sexual maturity of adults. Lon Chaney Jr gave one of his most memorable late performances as Bruno, their guardian and protector, who has managed to cover up their crimes until two distant relatives lay claim to their house. When they insist on moving in, Bruno has to cross his fingers and hope that the 'children' behave towards their new guests... This was the first solo feature by Jack Hill, whom Quentin Tarantino dubbed "the Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking", and it remains one of his wildest and weirdest.

Bonus Materials

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the main feature, available in the UK for the first time
Original 2.0 Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
High Definition transfer of the feature supervised and approved by director Jack Hill
English SDH subtitles for deaf and hearing impaired
Audio commentary featuring Jack Hill and star Sid Haig
Panel discussion from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences FILM-TO-FILM Festival, recorded September 2012, featuring Jack Hill and stars Quinn K. Redeker and Beverly Washburn
The Hatching of Spider Baby - Interviews with Jack Hill, Sid Haig, star Mary Mitchel, fan Joe Dante and more on the making of the film
Spider Stravinsky: The Cinema Sounds of Ronald Stein - The composer of 'The Terror' and 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman' among others is remembered by Harlene Stein, Jack Hill, American Cinematheque's Chris D. and others
The Merrye House Revisited - Jack Hill revisits the original house that was used as the main location in the film
Alternate opening title sequence
Extended scene
Original Trailer
Gallery of behind-the-scenes images
The Host (1960) - Jack Hill's early short film featuring Sid Haig in his first starring role [30 mins]
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Collector's booklet featuring writing on the film by artist and writer Stephen R. Bissette, and an extensive article re-printed from FilmFax: The Magazine of Unusual Film and Television featuring interviews with the cast and crew

  
Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on July 28, 2017 2:13 PM
CULT CLASSIC DONE RIGHT

With so many movies being released year after year there are bound to be some that fall between the cracks when it comes to making appearances over and over again. Such is the case with SPIDER BABY. It made it to the drive-in circuit but never really got the full-fledged TV treatment that it deserved. It disappeared from sight for a number of years. But fans these days are known to be diligent if nothing else. The search went out, it was found and resurrected and now Arrow Video has released what is by far the best version of this movie you can find.

If you’re not familiar with the story it tells the tale of the Merrye family, a family cursed with a disease that makes them grow older in age but regress in mentality, eventually becoming homicidal maniacs. The caretaker of the Merrye children is played by an aging Lon Chaney Jr. as Bruno. Bruno loves these children with his whole heart and would do anything to protect and care for them. He is not just dedicated to the family, they become his family as well.

The movie opens with famous celeb Mantan Moreland as a delivery man who makes the mistake of peeking in a window of the dilapidated house the family resides in. A quick drop of the window on his head finds him trapped and young Virginia Merrye (Jill Banner) coming at him in her spider mode, net ready to toss on him and then knives to serve as pincers. She kills him before she can get the message, one Bruno finds along with the body. It seems two distant relatives are on their way accompanied by their lawyer with the intent of taking over the family home, dilapidated though it may be.

This sends Bruno into crisis management mode where he tells the children they have to be on their best behavior. Along with Virginia are Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) and Ralph (Sid Haig). Ralph is by far the most gone of the three being the eldest. He’s at a point where he can’t even speak much less function. Keeping these three on their best will be a challenge for poor Bruno.

It’s best not to go into detail as to what happens from here but know that the distant relatives Peter and Emily, a married couple with issues all their own, are not interested in what’s best for the children. While Peter might care in some ways he’s more interested in the secretary of the lawyer. Emily only has dollar signs in her eyes, hoping that there is enough to salvage from the home to make her a wealthy woman. They decide to spend the night and from there things begin to happen.

Shot in black and white on a miniscule budget, director Jack Hill gets the most for his money. Not only does he make the locations and sets work for him, he gets some tremendous performances from his cast. Chaney has never quite looked this good in roles he took later in life. The younger, newer members all present themselves quite well here. Banner does an exceptional job and it’s sad to realize that she didn’t make enough after this film and died early at age 35. The originality of the story is something that is rare in most movies, even more so today, but to come up with something like this that reeks of exploitation but is made so well makes it astounding. I found myself caught up in all that was going on and never felt like I had to have the remote handy with my finger on the fast forward button.

The movie entertains and does so with ease. This becomes even more amazing when you delve into the extras that Arrow has provided, something they do better than anyone else, even Criterion (who will charge you far more for their wares). Included in the extras are:

* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the main feature, available in the UK for the first time
* Original 2.0 Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
* High Definition transfer of the feature supervised and approved by director Jack Hill
* English SDH subtitles for deaf and hearing impaired
* Audio commentary featuring Jack Hill and star Sid Haig
* Panel discussion from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences FILM-TO-FILM Festival, recorded September 2012, featuring Jack Hill and stars Quinn K. Redeker and Beverly Washburn
* The Hatching of Spider Baby - Interviews with Jack Hill, Sid Haig, star Mary Mitchel, fan Joe Dante and more on the making of the film
* Spider Stravinsky: The Cinema Sounds of Ronald
* The Merrye House Revisited - Jack Hill revisits the original house that was used as the main location in the film
* Alternate opening title sequence
* Extended scene
* Original Trailer
* Gallery of behind-the-scenes images
* The Host (1960) - Jack Hill's early short film featuring Sid Haig in his first starring role [30 mins]
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
* Collector's booklet featuring writing on the film by artist and writer Stephen R. Bissette, and an extensive article re-printed from FilmFax: The Magazine of Unusual Film and Television featuring interviews with the cast and crew

As always Arrow provides so much bang for your buck it’s a sight to behold. I’ve gotten to the point where with new releases I actually dread the extras that they include. Blooper reels seem to have happened on set just to make the blooper reels. Information feels more like promotional pieces rather than information. But the ingredients that Arrow includes in their extras always seem to enhance the movie experience of what you are watching rather than be just tossed on to add something. Because of that when new Arrow titles arrive I am always excited to see them in the mail.

This release is not only a great lost treasure it’s been placed in a fabulous chest because of the efforts of Arrow Video. For horror fans or those who love lost movies, this is a must add to your collection.

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