The Spider (1958)

72-73 mins | Horror | November 1958

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HISTORY

The working title and later television broadcast title for the film was Earth vs. the Spider . The following onscreen acknowledgment appeared in the opening credits: "Settings of the world famous Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico by courtesy of The Department of the Interiors National Park Service." In the film, "Mike's" father owns a movie house which advertises The Amazing Colossal Man and The Attack of the Puppet People (see above), both of which were Nicholson-Arkoff and American International Pictures releases. ... More Less

The working title and later television broadcast title for the film was Earth vs. the Spider . The following onscreen acknowledgment appeared in the opening credits: "Settings of the world famous Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico by courtesy of The Department of the Interiors National Park Service." In the film, "Mike's" father owns a movie house which advertises The Amazing Colossal Man and The Attack of the Puppet People (see above), both of which were Nicholson-Arkoff and American International Pictures releases. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Jul 58
pp. 436-37, 450-51, 454.
Box Office
17 Nov 1958.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1958.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 58
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1958
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
30 Oct 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Dec 58
p. 85.
Variety
5 Nov 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Asst prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Chief set elec
Key grip
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec tech eff
Asst tech eff
Spec devices
Spec des
Spec des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
Spider handler
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Earth vs. the Spider
Release Date:
November 1958
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 30 October 1958
Production Date:
mid May--late May 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Santa Rosa Productions
Copyright Date:
31 October 1958
Copyright Number:
LP15271
Physical Properties:
Sound
Ryder Sound Services
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72-73
Length(in feet):
6,534
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the small town of River Falls, teenager Carol Flynn becomes concerned when her father Jack fails to return home the night before her birthday. Fearful that her father may have had an accident, Carol convinces her boyfriend, Mike Simpson, to drive her around the back roads to look for him. Some miles from town, Carol and Mike find a strange, heavy rope stretched across the highway, and nearby, Jack’s empty, crashed pickup. Near the truck, Carol finds a small gift box with a bracelet inside and a birthday note from her father. Hoping to calm Carol, Mike suggests that if her father were injured he may have decided to spend the cold night in the nearby caverns, and Carol agrees to try looking there. Inside the caverns, Carol and Mike come across several skeletons and, deeply disturbed, give up their search. On their way back outside, Carol falls off a ledge onto an enormous rope-like web. As Mike pulls Carol to saftey, they hear a strange high-pitched shriek and to their horror, a gigantic spider appears at the top of the web. Panic-stricken, the teenagers flee the cavern and return to town to report their experience to Sheriff Cagle and their science teacher, Mr. Kingman. Although Kingman identifies the rope as heavy spun silk, Cagle remains skeptical about Carol and Mike’s story. Under pressure from Kingman, Cagle takes several deputies to examine the site of Jack’s accident and, at Kingman’s request, orders a local pesticide company to send a tanker filled with DDT to the caverns. Cagle remains doubtful until the group comes across ... +


In the small town of River Falls, teenager Carol Flynn becomes concerned when her father Jack fails to return home the night before her birthday. Fearful that her father may have had an accident, Carol convinces her boyfriend, Mike Simpson, to drive her around the back roads to look for him. Some miles from town, Carol and Mike find a strange, heavy rope stretched across the highway, and nearby, Jack’s empty, crashed pickup. Near the truck, Carol finds a small gift box with a bracelet inside and a birthday note from her father. Hoping to calm Carol, Mike suggests that if her father were injured he may have decided to spend the cold night in the nearby caverns, and Carol agrees to try looking there. Inside the caverns, Carol and Mike come across several skeletons and, deeply disturbed, give up their search. On their way back outside, Carol falls off a ledge onto an enormous rope-like web. As Mike pulls Carol to saftey, they hear a strange high-pitched shriek and to their horror, a gigantic spider appears at the top of the web. Panic-stricken, the teenagers flee the cavern and return to town to report their experience to Sheriff Cagle and their science teacher, Mr. Kingman. Although Kingman identifies the rope as heavy spun silk, Cagle remains skeptical about Carol and Mike’s story. Under pressure from Kingman, Cagle takes several deputies to examine the site of Jack’s accident and, at Kingman’s request, orders a local pesticide company to send a tanker filled with DDT to the caverns. Cagle remains doubtful until the group comes across the numerous skeletons inside the cavern. Carol then becomes hysterical when they find a fresh skeleton with remnants of clothing that she recognizes as her father’s. When Cagle nearly falls onto the rope-web, he hastily orders the pest control workers to enter the cavern. Attracted by the vibrations of the web, the giant spider appears and attacks one of the deputies. After Cagle and the others fire their guns, which prove useless, the pest control men douse the creature with streams of DDT until it collapses. Later, outside the cave, Carol realizes that she has lost the bracelet from her father, but Kingman refuses to allow her to return inside because of the lingering, lethal fumes. When Cagle recommends sealing the cavern entrance, Kingman requests that the spider’s carcass be taken to the high school to be exhibited as an item of great scientific interest. Kingman has the spider’s body moved to the high school gymnasium for a brief display, after which it will be transferred to a local university. The next day, Carol remains despondent over the loss of the bracelet and telephones Mike to plead with him to take her to search for it. Although reluctant, Mike asks to borrow his friend Joe’s car and takes Carol back to the caverns. Meanwhile, Joe and a small group of his friends, who are part of a rock and roll band, press high school janitor Hugo to allow them inside the gym to rehearse for an upcoming dance. Hugo agrees, and the group's playing attracts several students, who begin dancing. Unknown to everyone, the spider has only been stunned by the pesticide and now, stirred by the music’s vibrations, revives and breaks out of the gym, killing Hugo as it flees. The spider goes on a rampage through the streets of River Falls, destroying buildings and attacking people. Kingman warns Cagle, who after discovering that the long distance telephone lines have been damaged by the spider, orders his deputy Dave to drive to the neighboring town of Springdale to request National Guard assistance. Learning that the spider is headed to his own neighborhood, Kingman drives to his home and finds it under attack by the creature. Kingman distracts the spider by ramming it with his car, then drives out of town, prompting the creature to follow. When he returns to town, Kingman finds Dave’s body in the street and reports to Cagle that his deputy was unable to summon help. A short time later, a local man fleeing River Falls sees the giant spider going back inside the caverns and returns to inform Cagle. Kingman recommends that they dynamite the cavern entrance shut with the assistance of road foreman Sam Haskel. Unaware of the sipder's rampage, Carol and Mike find the bracelet while wandering through the cavern, then realize that they are lost. Meanwhile in town, Mike’s father worries about his son’s long absence and telephones Mrs. Flynn, who speculates that Carol may have returned to the caverns. As night falls, Haskel detonates explosives around the mouth of cavern, thus sealing the entrance with rocks. The impacts of the explosions knocks Carol and Mike unconscious. Upon arriving at the cavern, Mr. Simpson and Mrs. Flynn spot Joe’s car and hasten to inform Cagle and Kingman that they believe the teenagers are trapped inside the cavern. When Kingman suggests that they dig straight into the top of the mountain to get inside, Haskel agrees. After Mr. Simpson asks Kingman how he plans to eliminate the giant spider, Kingman notices several power lines nearby and suggests that they rig a connection to them to electrocute the creature. As Carol and Mike revive inside the cave, they hear Haskel’s hammering and blasting, begin shouting for help, and are terrified when the giant spider appears. In an attempt to escape, Mike leads Carol onto a narrow ledge, but a portion of the ledge collapses, trapping the couple against the wall. Moments later, Haskel and his men finally break through the mountain top, after which Kingman leads the men carrying the electrical lines into the cavern. As the giant spider attempts to lower itself near the ledge on which Carol and Mike are trapped, Kingman finds them and throws Mike one end of the wiring, creating an arc with the wires around the giant spider. Powerful electrical voltage then passes through the creature which finally crumples, falling from its web onto the sharp stalagmites below. After Carol and Mike are rescued, the cavern is sealed shut permanently. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.