Kiss of the Tarantula is a 1975 American horror film directed by Chris Munger from a screenplay written by Daniel Cady (Dream No Evil, Garden of the Dead, Dolly Dearest) and Warren Hamilton Jr. (better known as a sound editor). It is also known as Death Kisses and was released in British cinemas as Shudder.
The movie stars Eric Mason (Scream Blacula Scream), Suzanna Ling, Herman Wallner, Linda Spatz, Beverly Eddins and Patricia Landon.
Despite the fact that Eric Mason’s morally vapid Uncle Walter detective character is seemingly going for a bizarre world record for the number of times he can say ‘Susan’ during the movie, Kiss of the Tarantula is slightly more endearing than some of the other reviews here give it credit for, provided that you are in the mood for its languid 70s rural ambience.
The central premise owes a major debt to Willard and Carrie yet the understated sleazy elements and the funeral parlour setting add welcome touches of creepiness. Ultimately, the lack of outright horror lies with the slowness of spiders to attack their victims thus reducing the kill sequences to an arachnid’s pace.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“This eight-legged take on Willard has some enjoyable moments (mostly in its over the top performances and creepy use of real tarantulas) … The simple revenge plot rarely breaks the surface, relying more on the bloody deaths than the strengths of its characters to carry the film. What is worse is that the run time is padded with unnecessarily long stalk and chase sequences and an awkward subplot..” I Like Horror Movies
“Like most mega-cheapies from the mid-70’s, Tarantula is not all that interested in things like cohesive storytelling, strong performances or even professional-looking filmmaking techniques. It’s a dry little shocker, but one that offers at least two or three good sequences for the arachno-fans.” DVD Talk
” … it’s called Kiss of the Tarantula, but the only real kissing that goes on is with Uncle Walt, who is sort of a metaphorical creepy spider… The other thing is that it’s a kind of unspoken thing that who Susan really wants to be with is her Dad, and she does kill her mom right off in the classic Elektra complex. There is nothing but tenderness and love between her and her big dad, and at the end she does end up with him. It’s all pretty tepid…” Cinema de Merde
“Basically Willard with spiders, Kiss of the Tarantula features a female social misfit with pet tarantulas that do her evil bidding. I’m struggling to think of anything else it features. Mostly that’s it: there’s a shy loner with pet spiders that kill people. This could not have been riveting stuff in the drive-ins of 1976.” Rufus’s House of Horrors
First shown in Princeton, Indiana on 3rd October 1975.
Full film free to watch online: