Pod 9 From Outer Space – Tarantula

Nick

It’s another episode of pod9 from outer space.

Liz

Cue the music!

Opening theme.

LIZ

This week was my turn and I picked one of my all time favourite films 1955’s tarantula.

NICK

Does what it says on the spider.

LIZ

Yeah it’s a film from the 50s called tarantula and there’s a giant spider. Approximately the size of a skyscraper a short one but a skyscraper.

NICK

Medium sized buildings or a nice 3 floor semi detached.

LIZ

The basic concept is in order to stop the world running out of food this scientist Dewmer and his colleague Hastings are injecting a mysterious serum that contains isotopes into animals that makes them grow fast. So in the background there’s a guinea pig the size of a dog and it’s great and I want to cuddle it. Sorry Hastings is a different doctor there’s a lot of doctors.

NICK

Too many doctors… Spoil the broth.

LIZ

Jacobs is the colleague who has some of the serum himself which makes him go all strange. He attacks Dewmer lets loose a tarantula which is about the size of a large dog maybe a great Dane and attacks everyone. That’s the basic plot, then Clint Eastwood flies in on a jet and blows it up.

NICK

I like that as an ending – how do we solve this some unrelated person shows up and does it.

LIZ

Not unrelated, it’s affecting infrastructure so the govt goes and bombs it.

NICK

I know but what I mean is that’s not really a story – I expect that would happen it’s not the characters doing something the events have reached their logical conclusion.

LIZ

And then the problem is dealt with.

NICK

Yes it was happening until it wasn’t. The end. Or is it/ it is, we bombed it.

LIZ

They didn’t do the end question mark or anything like that it’s the end as you watch a spider burning. You’ll be glad to know the spider is unharmed and went on to star in the incredible shrinking man.

NICK

That’s range – a giant spider and a shrinking man.

LIZ

Let’s go with that, that’s more interesting than played a big spider and a regular spider.

NICK

I have a theory that um… It actually… It is a entirely normal sized spider and the shrinking man… Was just… No I don’t have a theory, ignore me.

LIZ

No it plays a normal spider in the incredible shrinking man. Sadly it’s uncredited so we don’t knows its name.

NICK

Georg.

LIZ

Fortunately we do know Mara Corday’s name, and as usual for the women in these films carries this film. She plays a masters student masters in what I’m not sure biology related probably, who is hired as a lab assistant after the mysterious death of one of the scientists – and also a live in cook and maid because 50s. She’s giving a tour of the lab to a simple country doctor from the town of desert rock. The scientist is furious at her this is secret you did not tell her it was a secret and has always talked to random townies about it so how is she supposed to know honestly biggest plothole of the whole thing.

NICK

If you’re going to have somebody do confidential stuff get an NDA signed.

LIZ

Or say it.

NICK

Or establish an oral contract by saying psst hey you wanna know a secret?

LIZ

That is a good way to establish that something is secret.

NICK

Hey kid, kid you wanna see my rancho?

LIZ

She doesn’t know about the tarantula before it starts wrecking stuff because it escapes before she’s hired. I’m going to get into some RTGR here- ruins the gritty realism – I feel it would be a lot easier to track the tarantula in real life because they shed like a snake does so you have a trail of just larger and larger rancho skins in the street and the desert.

NICK

That would be entertaining – people getting them off their cars – getting out the ice scraper.

LIZ

Or a hundred foot tarantula skin lands on someone’s house.

NICK

We’ve got new drapes peter.

LIZ

Or use it as a puppet to distract the tarantula.

NICK

I like that as an actual ending – where the characters do something.

LIZ

We instead have the sheriff calls the air force and the immediately send four jets instead of going this drunken country sheriff called us you’ll never guess what it said – and they shoot napalm at it cause it’s not just missiles it’s napalm.

NICK

Yeah.

Probably Bad and Bread and Thread plugs.

LIZ

I said it’s Clint Eastwood’s first film role, but he was in four films this year – tarantula, lady godiva of coventry, francis in the navy, first credited role and revenge of the creature, a sequel to creature of the black lagoon. Only 3D film released in 1955. He played a lab assistant called Jennings who thinks a cat ate a lab rat and then finds the rat in his pocket. Here he has a line “OK we’re going to drop the bombs now” basically. Fun fact though, mara corday actually appears in minor roles in Clint eastwood films towards the end of her career – so they come apart as one comes up and one comes down and they come together at the end.

NICK

Interesting. There was a lot about this film I enjoyed. I really liked the leads – the simple country doctor, that’s always good. There’s a distinctive formula for these things that’s quite useful. It’s got to be something like New Mexico, Arizona, near enough California but the more deserty bits.

LIZ

Yeah, this is set in Arizona, filmed in CA naturally.

NICK

I’ve been thinking about the reason things are set there, and Nevada – Area 51 means there’s an association between there and weird stuff, and Roswell New Mexico, it means it’s a fertile ground for that. The landscape of course is amazing you can go out there you can film something set in America, Mexico on Mars and you use the same patch of ground cause it’s just such a-

LIZ

This specific area of desert apple valley CA and Dead man’s point, CA, are used in a lot of early western films including Eastwood’s career making stuff.

NICK

The location made it work for me because if you had it in an urban and developed setting then the holes in the FX would show through cause when they show a tarantula, it’s not really a big tarantula they’ve put it by a doll house size set or taken footage and blown it up.

LIZ

Yeah it’s a lot of matte paintings I feel lie we’re going to talk about them a lot – but the matte paintings were great I couldn’t tell in some scenes when it was location and when it was matte which is very impressive, every effect is very impressive, not just for the time.

NICK

I think that was great, if you had it moving against more rigid structures then it would have shown more but because it was moving behind hills and behind the general landscape it was harder to see the joins so to speak.

LIZ

This is the problem with a lot of person is big films, like attack of the 50 foot woman which we’re going to talk about at some point, because it becomes obvious there isn’t actually a giant woman walking around.

NICK

As Coleridge said you’ve got to have suspension of disbelief, I believe he sat in the cinema going “she’s not really coming to eat me is she? Aaw shucks”. Who knows what he was into?

LIZ

I like the motivation for making this film “we made this because people are scared of spiders” an actual quote from Jack Arnold the director and he’s listed as story by, so it’s his idea and he filmed it but he didn’t write it. But he’s yeah he’s the one who decided to make a film about a giant spider.

NICK

I do appreciate having that kind of director writer relationship I can definitely – because that means you’re working with somebody who has general visual ideas and says “can you help out with this”

LIZ

Props to Robert M Fresco and Martin Berkeley.

NICK

That’s such a funny name to me.

LIZ

Berkeley?

NICK

Robert Fresco.

LIZ

Fresh Bob!

NICK

Gotta love fresh bob.

LIZ

Fresh bob you done good.

NICK

Fresh bob you’ve done it again. Has he done anything else?

LIZ

Yes but they’re all in the same vein. The monolith monsters the alligator people space invasion of lapland…. And then one serious film and one documentary about the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. Those are his six films.

NICK

I love it when someone in the film industry has a particular thing, but then they veer off and make a total outlier.

LIZ

I would love to know what he did the rest of the time he wrote the bad films in the 50s the two good… Or two serious films in the late sixties and nothing else until he died in 2014. I want to know your life Fresh Bob.

NICK

Wasn’t it the way the studios worked in the olden days they did a lot more of keeping people on retainer, a typing pool of disillusioned young people.

LIZ

Yeah but what did he do after that? If you know, tell me. Oh here we go he taught film TV and communications.

NICK

That explains that. If you’ve been taught by this guy let us know. What did you learn how many spiders did you see – were you ever crushed by aliens or crocodiles…

LIZ

Alligators don’t be silly.

NICK

Yeah props to everyone, especially the props department.

LIZ

Double props to them. Prop props.

NICK

Yeah gotta give them prop props.

LIZ

I do wish I could find out who did the matte paintings though, cause I’ve said before I do want a collection of matte paintings form b movies.

NICK

They’re tremendous they really are. I enjoyed the music as well very traditional.

LIZ

Some was reminiscent of jaws at times.

NICK

Yeah the little two note chromatic pattern thingy.

LIZ

Which for the layman is duh-duh.

NICK

I liked the bigger sweeping moments it had an Erich Korngold vibe. If you’re not familiar it’s Errol Flynn era, pirate films and robin hood, where the conventions of doing a big score were established. I don’t know how the score for this was created – a lot of b movies use-

LIZ

We should credit Herman Stein because the film didn’t.

NICK

I feel like it’s a possibility that in a lot of these films is that they pick out of a library of stuff they’ve got ready – I’ve got a bunch of stuff would you like some of these phrases.

LIZ

This guy was a proper composer he wrote music specifically for different films including king Kong vs Godzilla and some for the series lost in space.

NICK

Those are good credits. Great credits, big TV show. American TV shows having such a big budget meant they could get a lot done with the music cause I remember doctor who in a similar era was a hell of a lot of archive pieces so well done you.

LIZ

Good job Herman stein proud of you.

NICK

Good job Herman. I’d say if it had a different ending this would be up there.

LIZ

Specifically the puppet skin ending.

NICK

Yeah give it the puppet skin ending and it’s the perfect film. As it is, it clatters along for its 80 minutes then departs from our lives.

LIZ

But where does it go on the camp scale?

NICK

OK the camp scale it’s a little above average I’d say.

LIZ

It gets a point for hey isn’t that an isotope?

NICK

Its’ bad science a go go is what that is.

LIZ

We didn’t even get into the bad science. including the you don’t die of achromegaly you die of the symptoms – which considering achromegaly is a syndrome not a disease it’s a collection of symptoms…

NICK

You’re technically correct-

LIZ

But also not.

NICK

Let me just draw a semantic distinction that makes me sound smarter to the layman.

LIZ

Because I’m a simple country doctor and I’m very insecure about this.

NICK

I want him to meet a simple country lawyer and settle down.

LIZ

Start a simple country family.

NICK

And maybe they can have some children like have a simple country astronaut, a simple country farmer…

LIZ

And a simple country schoolmarm. So on the camp scale are we saying simple country five man tent?

NICK

Yes it’s glamping.

LIZ

What did you learn? I learned if you have a problem you can’t solve call the air force and they’ll attack it with napalm.

NICK

I learned if you keep on injecting animals with a serum they’ll stop looking like themselves and start looking like a larger version that’s super imposed from a different bit of film.

LIZ

What are we watching next?

NICK

Good question this was your pick wasn’t it?

LIZ

Yeah

NICK

I’m thinking ZPG or No Blade of Grass, which are post apocalyptic films for this trying time.

LIZ

Now more than ever I want to watch some bad films.

Closing theme.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: