Writer-director: Jack Hill
With Lon Chaney, Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner
MPI Home Entertainment
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Chaney tells the girlish Washburn and Banner. "Just because something isn't good doesn't mean it's bad!" This good-bad, funny-peculiar creep fest, originally titled Cannibal Orgy, was shot for $60,000 by Roger Corman alumnus Hill (Foxy Brown), then kept from release for four years. The tale of a family of arachnophiliac flesh-eaters surely influenced The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, made a decade later, but it's also in the tradition of horror comedies like Corman's A Bucket of Blood and The Little Shop of Horrors.
The supporting cast includes bald, B-movie eminence Sid Haig, looking like a character from Tod Browning's Freaks but outfitted in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, and race-films comedy star Mantan Moreland in his first credited film role since the 40s. Best is the Lolitaish Banner, bringing a kind of depraved innocence to the enterprise. (Banner was working for Marlon Brando at the time of her death at 35 in a car crash; and Hill, in an excellent making-of extra, "The Hatching of Spider Baby," says that Brando called her "the only woman he had ever loved.") Spider Baby takes some indulgence for its highly mannered low comedy. Best to surrender to the eccentricities and curl up in the movie's web of madness.
Next Funny Face (1957)