“Tarantula” is a horror film and science fiction film from 1955, directed by Jack Arnold and produced by Universal Pictures. The plot of the film revolves around a secret scientific experiment in which a substance is used that accelerates the growth of animals and plants, but which accidentally ends up blowing up a tarantula to gigantic size.
The giant tarantula then begins wreaking havoc in Desert Rock County, attacking and killing local residents. A young doctor, Matt Hastings (played by John Agar), and a scientist, Stephanie Clayton (played by Mara Corday), try to stop the monstrous creature before it can cause further damage.
The film was a moderate success at the box office and represents one of the classics of the giant monster genre of the 1950s. The Giant Tarantula was created using a combination of special effects and tricks, including post-production image overlay. The film also had a lasting cultural impact, becoming one of the icons of science fiction genre and 1950s horror.
The plot of “Tarantula” revolves around a secret scientific experiment conducted by Professor Gerald Deemer (played by Leo G. Carroll), who is working on a substance that accelerates the growth of animals and plants.
However, an accident results in the enlargement of a tarantula, which quickly grows into a monstrous creature of gigantic size. The tarantula escapes from the laboratory and makes its way to the nearby village of Desert Rock, attacking and killing the local inhabitants.
Young doctor Matt Hastings (played by John Agar) and scientist Stephanie Clayton (played by Mara Corday) try to stop the creature, but realize that the ultimate solution lies in stopping Professor Deemer, who is trying to fix the mistake made with the experiment.
With the help of an Air Force pilot, the group heads to Professor Deemer’s laboratory, where they discover that he is working on a new substance that would allow him to become immortal.
Here are the main characters of the movie “Tarantula”:
Leo G. Carroll as Professor Gerald Deemer: A scientist working on a substance that accelerates the growth of animals and plants, which accidentally leads to the enlargement of a tarantula.
Matt Hastings, played by John Agar: a young doctor who tries to stop the giant tarantula together with scientist Stephanie Clayton.
Mara Corday as Stephanie Clayton: A scientist who helps Hastings stop the giant tarantula.
Sheriff Jack Andrews, played by Nestor Paiva: the sheriff of the village of Desert Rock, who tries to protect its inhabitants from the monstrous creature.
Ross Elliott as Joe Burch: A resident of Desert Rock who is killed by the giant tarantula.
Edwin Rand played Townsend: An assistant to Professor Deemer.
Clint Eastwood played Steve Archer: A US Air Force pilot who helps Hastings and Clayton destroy the giant tarantula.
“Tarantula” was produced by Universal Pictures in 1955, directed by Jack Arnold and written by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley.
The film was shot largely at Universal studios in Hollywood and in the vicinity of the Mojave Desert in California. Various special effects were used to create the giant tarantula, including a life-size model of the tarantula, a mechanical version of the creature for the walking scenes, and even a trampoline to make the tarantula appear much larger than the objects. in the foreground.
For some scenes where the giant tarantula walks through the village, miniature shots and image overlays were used in post-production. Additionally, the film’s score was composed by composer Herman Stein, who used a combination of classical music and sound effects to create the film’s atmosphere of tension and terror.
The production budget for “Tarantula” was around $250,000, which was quite a lot for a film of that period. However, the box office success largely paid off for Universal Pictures’ investment.
Distribution and Reception
“Tarantula” was released in theaters in 1955 by Universal Pictures and enjoyed moderate success at the box office. The film also had international release and helped solidify the giant monster genre of the 1950s.
Critics praised the film for its originality and visual impact, especially for the special effects used to create the giant tarantula. However, some reviews criticized the film’s plot for being too simple and predictable.
Despite this, “Tarantula” became a classic of the science fiction and horror genre of the 50s, influencing many subsequent films. The giant tarantula has become one of the icons of monster cinema and the film has been the subject of numerous DVD and Blu-ray re-releases over the years.
“Tarantula” is a film that fits into the science fiction and horror cinema of the 50s, characterized by great attention to special effects and an atmosphere of tension and terror.
The film features a dark and disturbing visual style, using black and white photography and the choice of tight shots and unusual angles to create a sense of claustrophobia and constant menace.
Furthermore, Jack Arnold’s direction wisely exploits the potential of the surprise effect, presenting the giant tarantula in a gradual and progressive way, through partial shots, shadows and signs of its passage.
The soundtrack of the film, curated by Herman Stein, contributes to the atmosphere of terror through the use of distorted sounds and sound effects of animals and musical instruments.
Finally, the plot of the film is based on a classic theme of the horror and science fiction genre, namely the harmful effect of man’s interference with nature, which leads to the creation of monsters and monstrous creatures.
The director of “Tarantula” was Jack Arnold, born in 1916 in New Haven, Connecticut, and died in 1992 in Woodland Hills, California. Arnold was one of the most prolific directors of American cinema of the 50s and 60s, best known for his science fiction and horror films.
Among his most famous films can be mentioned “The Fly of the White Head” (1958), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1959), “Sea Creatures” (1954) and “The Man Who Lived in the Future” ( 1959). Arnold has distinguished himself for his ability to create eerie and tense atmospheres, as well as for the attention to visual and aural details of his films.
Prior to becoming a director, Arnold worked as an actor, theater director and documentary filmmaker. Throughout his career, he received many awards for his work, including the Best Director Award at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival for the film ‘From Here to Eternity’. Even though his science fiction and horror films were regarded by critics at the time as B-type products, today they are regarded as classics of the genre and prized for their originality and eerie atmosphere.