Spider Baby Screen 4 articles

Spider Baby

1968

Spider Baby Poster
  • Maybe it pays too much lip-service to the monsters of yore - Lon Chaney Jr used to be the Wolf Man, of course - not enough to the underlying perversity that's its true trump card, though the shadowy old-fashioned 'horror' pays off in moments like the low-angle shot of the two girls standing at the top of the stairs with their faces in darkness. Hill undercuts the square, boring hero by making him buffoonish, but still feels the need for a square, boring hero.

  • Director Hill brings a wide-eyed excitement to the film, luxuriating in every moment of pollution, every opportunity for vileness of behavior or of character and leads his actors, especially a young Sid Haig as a mute priapic, to performances of disarming naturalism, disconcertingly in contrast to the fantastic elements of plot and details of imagery that threaten to drown out any sense from the film.

  • It is when these visitors decide to spend the night that Spider Baby takes its superficial shape as a foreboding night of terror—this looks to be, for all intents and purposes, a “scary movie.” But this is also when Hill moves the film along some unanticipated turns, making it the truly exceptional work that it is.

  • It may play as surface level creepy and kooky on first viewing, but keep looking and keep thinking about it. Be sure not to miss the baby doll crucified to a spider web hanging on the wall in the film’s most classically exploitative sequence. In the Merrye House, the cobwebs and stuffed owls and all the other trappings of cheap B-horror are just that, smoke and mirrors that hide the film’s real terror — the vengeful specters of teen angst come to life, every suburban parents worst nightmare.

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