BLU-RAY REVIEW: Spider Baby (1968)

By Nick Durham

spider baby
There're a lot of films I've seen over the years that have managed to make me say out loud, "What the fuck did I just watch?" Spider Baby is one of them. From exploitation director extraordinaire Jack Hill (who would go on to direct Foxy Brown, Coffy, and one of my all time personal favorites in Switchblade Sisters) and featuring the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. in one of his last roles, Spider Baby is a nasty little gem and an underappreciated classic.

Chaney plays Bruno: a guardian and caretaker for three siblings who suffer from a strange genetic disorder that causes them to de-evolve. Bruno has always had his hands full, but things soon become a bit more complicated when some distant relatives show up to the decrepit mansion they all live in to claim the property. What happens next is some pretty nasty shit, with sanity and various body parts lost in the process.

Darkly humorous and peppered with some very freaky moments, Spider Baby is a treat. The performances from Chaney and the three siblings (which features a young Sid Haig!) are wonderful and somehow still terrifying to this very day. Granted some elements of the film itself haven't aged all that well, but it still manages to be an effective little piece of trash regardless. Originally filmed in 1964, the film didn't get officially released until 1968, and went through a whole lot of different titles in the process as well. Thanks to midnight showings over the years and word of mouth, Spider Baby has managed to become a beloved film of the era, and continues to be discovered and re-discovered as the years go by.

I know I've raved about other releases from Arrow Films before, but their release of Spider Baby is another wonderful Blu-ray package. The picture quality has been remastered, with it's stark black and white cinematography looking simply beautiful. There's a feature length commentary from Jack Hill and Sid Haig, as well as Hill's 1960 short film The Host (also starring Haig) included here as well. There's a panel discussion on the film from 2012, a rarely seen alternate opening sequence, new interviews, video of Hill revisiting the old house the movie was filmed in, and the typical collectors booklet that all Arrow releases include, among other features packed in here as well.

Like I said before, Spider Baby is a supremely underrated exploitation/horror film from an era where films like this were rarely seen. This release of it from Arrow Films is a must have for collectors and aficionados of this type of wonderful trash. Do yourself a favor, pick it up...even if you've never seen it. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee

Leave a Reply