Imagine a hirsute tarantula stretched all across the screen, climbing up the deserted hills and from time to time doing something more. Got it? Now, imagine a love story between a village-origin doctor and a highlife-loving assistant of a crazy biologist. Even though it’s getting more difficult, add to the image solemn music, flowing out of the speakers each time the spider even moves its leg. Yes, ladies and gentleman, you have just embodied the vision of Jack Arnold’s classic horror movie, or to be more specific, classic monster b-movie, “Tarantula”.
Desert Rock’s doctor is called by the sheriff to examine the deformed cavalier, which was found in the desert. The diagnosis is macrosomia, but Matt Hastings’ (John Agar) experience and medical knowledge pushes him to further investigate the case. The evidences lead to biologist Professor Deemer (Leo Carroll), who, in a held-in-secret lab, conducts a nutrition-based research aiming at hasting the growth of living organisms. When Matt discovers the suspicious connection between the dead body and doctor’s lab, there are inexplicable things going on near the town. Therefore, Joining forces with the Deemer’s assistant (Mara Corday), doctor Hastings reveals a horrifying mystery, having its roots in the lab.
Scary as it may seem, “Tarantula” is like a faded canvas, which doesn’t fall into the category of vintage anymore, but resembles nothing being once something. The screenplay reveals the lack of obtaining one direction, as it meanders between a crime-like movie, a vague love story and poorly entertaining monster movie. This deadly mixture fulfilled all the necessary factors of the cinematic hits in 50s, but nowadays – seems a bit contrived. Impatiently waiting for the first appearance of the disastrous tarantula, John Agar does his best, so as to carry the burden of the entire movie. Those in love with his masculine posture and deep voice would remain heavenly entertained. The rest… well, the tarantula will appear. I promise.
“Tarantula” also proves itself to be a bitter anti-reflection of what up-to-date, aimed at pure entertainment movies bring nowadays. The filmmakers strive to do everything just not to bore the audience, simultaneously losing the breathing space in terms of creativity. Even though Arnold’s film is way too stretched and loose in its composition, the tempo doesn’t haste and doesn’t tire the spectators. Boring as it is, it still wakes up just in time to provoke some emotions, due to music and the way its directed. Not mentioning the fact, that the hologram of the tarantula is sometimes coherent enough to see the hills behind its abdomen, it still entertains.
Starring John Agar, neatly-plotted „Tarantula”, grabs the sole idea of monster movies of the 50s and 60s: fear doesn’t lay in what remains unseen. Following this golden recipe, the gargantuan-sized Tarantula wanders around the deserted plains, taking its time to devour and disintegrate the neighborhood. Surprisingly, the title seems quite vague in reference to the film’s content, as the spidey’s role is quite limited to several scenes. Instead, we receive the hard-linen love story with a scientific freak of nature in the background. Bearing in mind that being a fan of oldies requires a lot of understanding of plot clichés and patience towards the non-dynamic action – still, “Tarantula” is rather a goofy piece, recommended to the true lovers of the genre, mixed with those, who seek countless examples of “still better lovestory than Twilight” – undoubtedly, “Tarantula” is one of them.