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I try to watch this movie every year or so. It reminds me of my youth when
I didn't have any preconceived notions about what a film should or shouldn't
be. A time when I had total suspension of disbelief.
I remember when my ten-year-old eyes first caught a glance at the greatest
horror movie poster that ever hung in the hallowed foyer of our local movie
theatre, The D&R in Aberdeen, Washington. The poster featured a gargantuan
spider bearing down on a group of terrified people. Suspended in the air
above the monster were three helicopters and lying crumpled at the spider's
legs were a couple of burning cars while spotlights filled the sky. One of
the terrified was a busty young blonde wearing only a negligee. I was
Every kid in town must have seen the `coming soon' poster because the next
day in school all halls were abuzz with nervous anticipation of what was
going to be the greatest cinematic experience of our young lives: THE GIANT
SPIDER INVASION! Our local newspaper (The Daily World) had a beautiful
half-page advertisement featuring the glorious poster art. I cut it out and
hung it on the refrigerator so my mom wouldn't forget.
After a torturous week of school, the opening day finally arrived. Packs of
kids, with parents in tow, rushed to secure a place in line at the D&R. The
line wrapped around the block. Aberdeen hadn't seen this much excitement
since Jaws played there the previous year.
Once inside the lobby, ushers showered the crowd with little black plastic
spiders. Kids scrambled everywhere clawing and climbing over each other
to get their hands on these rare collector's items. I snagged a few off the
ground and then rushed into the theatre to secure a seat for my Mom, my
brother and me.
The theatre was filled to capacity. Those who did not make it in for the
first show were forced to wait until the 9:00 p.m. show. Back in the
seventies there were only two show times during the weekdays: 7:00p.m. and
9:00p.m. It was truly Darwin's `survival of the fittest' in
At precisely 7:00p.m., the theatre grew dark and the screen was illuminated
with the coming attraction: Squirm! The theatre was filled with whoops and
screams as slime-coated killer worms with fangs tore into flesh, but soon a
collective kid-groan could be heard as the rating `R' flashed after the
preview. Thankfully, our attention was focused off the fact that most of
our parents would not permit us to see the `R' rated film when the title:
The Giant Spider Invasion filled the screen.
For the next 85 minutes, we were treated to a town exposed to a `miniature'
black hole' that creates a `space warp' inviting in alien-spiders that grow
to mammoth proportions. The film really delivered the goods! A grungy
farmer discovers a half-eaten body whose rib-cage is partially exposed, a
girl comes out of the shower baring her breasts and, in a glorious shower of
blood, the spiders suck up a couple of people into their puckered-festering
mouths! Cries of horror and disbelief could be heard throughout the
auditorium. A couple of ushers had to remove a bawling friend of mine after
he saw the partially eaten remains of one of the victims too much for his
delicate sensibilities. I sat transfixed. This was the greatest movie ever
made. The next day, I dragged a few of my friends to watch the matinee we
stayed for the remaining showings and returned the following day. The movie
played in Aberdeen for only a week, but I must have seen it a dozen
Years later, I found The Giant Spider Invasion at a video store and
immediately purchased it. I watched it with the same glee I did back in
1975 and the fond memories I held came flooding back.
Watching it now I chuckle as Alan `The Skipper' Hale delivers lines like,
`He's a strange man and he's building up a big head of steam.' But, seeing
the spiders, which seemed so real back in the good old D&R, crawl over the
beautiful Wisconsin countryside, still gives me a small thrill. Even though
it's obvious the spiders are badly made up VW Beetles, it still takes me
back to a time when all movies I watched were magical.
There were giants in those days.
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