‘Creeping!… Clawing!… Crushing!’
The Giant Spider Invasion is a 1975 American science fiction horror feature film directed by Bill Rebane (Blood Harvest; The Demons of Ludlow; The Capture of Bigfoot) from a screenplay written by Robert Easton and Richard L. Huff.
The film is about giant spiders that terrorise the town of Merrill, Wisconsin and the surrounding area. The iconic theatrical poster art was a throwback to the giant monster movies of the 1950s. The $300,000 film received a considerable theatrical run via Group 1 and became one of the fifty top-grossing films of that year.
Major roles were played by some actors who may have been considered “has-beens” at the time. The leads were Steve Brodie and Barbara Hale, with other roles going to Alan Hale, Jr. and Leslie Parrish (whose character unwittingly drinks a Bloody Mary cocktail containing a pulped arachnid!).
The film’s one “Giant Spider” was constructed by covering a Volkswagen automobile with artificial black fur, with the fake legs operated from the inside by seven members of the crew. The back of the car was the front of the monster, and its red tail lights served as the monster’s glowing eyes. In August 2013, it was reported that the rusting frame of the giant spider had been stolen and sold off for scrap.
A comic book was created to help promote the film and was reprinted for Retromedia’s DVD of the film.
“This movie also has some of the most wonderful fleeing-crowds footage since Reptilicus, and a few shots of the main monster eating people which are on nearly the same exalted plane of gross technical overreach as their counterparts from the latter film. For my money, the actor-eating spider is even funnier than the spidermobile that attacks the carnival, if for no other reason than that we get a much better look at it.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Despite the jokey reference to Jaws (1975) this film is clearly a displaced item from the fifties cycle of radiation (and such like) mutation movies. It even comes complete with Brodie and Hale as the boy-meets-girl couple who save the day. But, whereas the fifties films were at least a direct reflection of their times, this ineptly mounted offering has no such backdrop.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction
“Something of a hotch-potch as Rebane jumbles comic strip with genuinely unsettling horror. Real spiders are used to reasonably good effect, whereas the one giant specimen, despite a spirited first appearance, is patently mechanical and sadly undemonstrative.” Time Out
“Lots of laughs … there hasn’t been a movie with special effects so bad since The Giant Claw!” Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
” …stars the silliest “giant creature” ever created in movie history. It takes this film almost an hour for the “giant spider” to show up up, and when it does, it’s so blatantly a VW beetle with fake legs attached that you won’t believe your eyes.”John Wilson, The Official Razzie Movie Guide
“For my money, the actor-eating spider is even funnier than the spider mobile that attacks the carnival, if for no other reason than that we get a much better look at it. The eight-legged pervert hiding in Ev’s underwear drawer is a hoot, too. The most incredible thing of all, however, may be the simple fact that The Giant Spider Invasion was not by a long shot the worst movie Bill Rebane made.” 1000 Misspent Hours… and Counting
“In spite of the title, there is only one giant spider, but we don’t feel cheated because it’s a dilly. It is impossible to see such a budget conscious special effect without feeling a wave of admiration.” Stephen King, Danse Macabre
“Modest and unpretentious, The Giant Spider Invasion is really much better than its reputation […] But the famously bad spider puppets are the main draw […] Be sure to enjoy good-natured 70s sexism: a teenaged floozy appears virtually topless, and at one point the camera shamelessly zooms in on her cleavage.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers