Friday, October 30, 2009

Watch It!

As you know, I'm ill. Never one to let an opportunity for sloth pass me by, I used my sore throat and sniffles as a reason to stay in bed this morning and watch Tarantula, which as you may recall from one of my earlier posts is only the greatest movie ever made in the history of film.

In case you need further convincing of this fact, I offer the following as evidence.

1. Tarantula has memorable dialogue, including:
"I knew it would happen--give women the vote and what do you get--lady scientists."

-- Dr. Matt Hastings to Stephanie Clayton, upon learning that she has come to town to do graduate work in biology
"Science is science, but a girl must get her hair done."

-- Stephanie Clayton to her employer, Professor Gerald Deemer
"Freaks of any kind give me the willies."

-- Dr. Matt Hastings
2. Tarantula stars John Agar, a handsome leading man who starred in such classic B movies as Revenge of the Creature, The Mole People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Attack of the Puppet People, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, and Women of the Prehistoric Planet.

That's him on the left. No, not in the middle. That's well-known character actor Leo G. Carroll, whose Professor Deemer has been injected with the "super nutrient" that causes the whole mess. (But he makes his own fantastic addition to this list. See #6 below.)

As if this weren't enough, Agar also happened to be Shirley Temple's first husband, marrying her when she was just 17. It didn't last long, due in part to the fact that Agar apparently disliked being referred to as "Mr. Shirley Temple." Still, as Agar and Temple met when she was 15 (at a tea party at the home of ZaSu Pitts, no less), and as she was reportedly a virgin on her wedding night, when you watch Tarantula it's entirely possible that you're looking at the man who took America's sweetheart for her first ride on the good ship lollipop. If you know what I mean.

Oh, I almost forgot this. Agar had a small part in the 1976 remake of King Kong. When a friend of his bought a run-down dinosaur-themed amusement park in Arkansas, Agar allowed him to change the name to John Agar's Land of Kong. It was later changed to Dinosaur World, and is now sadly closed. Lots of fun pics of it can be found here.

3. Tarantula co-stars Mara Corday.

Like John Agar, Mara Corday became something of a fixture in B movies. In addition to her fine acting in Tarantula, she graced the screen in The Giant Claw, Undersea Girl, The Black Scorpion, and the girl gang spectacular Girls on the Loose.

Corday was a popular pin-up girl as well, and was Playboy magazine's centerfold for the October 1958 issue.

4. Tarantula features the first film appearance (uncredited) of Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood plays a fighter pilot who, in the last seconds of the film, attacks the giant spider as it's about to lay waste to the town of Desert Rock. He has one line: "The rockets didn't work. Switch to napalm."

The napalm, by the way, works beautifully.

In an interesting twist, Eastwood would later cast co-star Mara Corday in bit parts in his movies, including The Gauntlet, Sudden Impact, Pink Cadillac, and The Rookie.

5. Tarantula features spectacular special effects.

Like this giant guinea pig.

6. Tarantula inspired a line in the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
"I knew Leo G. Carroll
was over a barrel
when Tarantula took to the hills."
To recap: snappy dialogue, Shirley Temple's first husband, a Playboy centerfold, Clint Eastwood dropping napalm, a giant guinea pig, and an inspiration for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

If these arguments still don't persuade you to run out and see Tarantula then I don't know what else I could possibly say to convince you. But I know that you will run out to see it, and that you will thank me for introducing you to this forgotten cinematic gem.

You're welcome.

1 comment:

Miss Quoted said...

Okay I'm in ...and it's not like I'm not a huge fan of Kingdom of The Spiders, a must see as well.