Tarantula (1955)

Tarantula (1955), directed by Jack Arnold.

Big Bug films of the 1950s used a variety of techniques: stop motion for The Black Scorpion (1957), large ant puppets for Them! (1954).

This one uses real tarantulas, scale models and rather nice rear projection.

It works really well, or perhaps I'm still seeing it through younger eyes. The spiders seem like natural actors, the way they carefully raise and set down each leg. You just know they have evil arachnid intelligence.

John Agar is inevitably pretty bland and scientist Leo G. Carroll oblivious to the harm he is doing. We welcome science babe Mara Corday, who returns in The Black Scorpion (1957). She was the October 1958 Playmate in Playboy magazine. Brains and beauty!

You can't see his face but Clint Eastwood is the fighter pilot who brings the napalm.

As is common for Universal creature-features of the 1950s, much of the score is borrowed from earlier pictures, in this case Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and It Came from Outer Space (1953).

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory. Tom Weaver hosts a typically lively commentary track.