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HISTORY

Although modern sources state that Tarantula was based on an episode of the television series "Science Fiction Theater" written by Robert M. Fresco, who was credited with the film's story and screenplay, this information has not been confirmed. Modern sources also state that the filmmakers used enlarged images of a typical tarantula for most of the scenes, but built a tarantula for use in advertisements and the scene in which the spider peeks into "Steve"'s ... More Less

Although modern sources state that Tarantula was based on an episode of the television series "Science Fiction Theater" written by Robert M. Fresco, who was credited with the film's story and screenplay, this information has not been confirmed. Modern sources also state that the filmmakers used enlarged images of a typical tarantula for most of the scenes, but built a tarantula for use in advertisements and the scene in which the spider peeks into "Steve"'s window. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Nov 1955.
---
Daily Variety
4 Nov 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Nov 55
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 55
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 55
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 55
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Nov 55
p. 674.
Variety
9 Nov 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the teleplay "No Food for Thought" by Robert M. Fresco on Science Fiction Theater (14 May 1955).
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1955
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 23 November 1955
Production Date:
June 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
8 December 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5654
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
80
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17651
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Desert Rock, Arizona, Sheriff Jack Andrews asks country doctor Matt Hastings to inspect the body of Eric Jacobs, a scientist who has died in the desert outside the laboratory of nutrient biologist Dr. Gerald Deemer. Noting that Jacobs had contracted the rare glandular disease acromegalia, which, over the course of years, causes gigantism, Matt does not believe Deemer's claim that his partner's illness set in only days earlier. Back at his lab, Deemer continues experimenting with a growth-inducing serum, but just after he injects a tarantula, his other lab partner, Paul Lund, who is now deformed, breaks into the lab. Deemer realizes that Lund, like Jacob, has grown crazed after being injected with the serum, and to wreak revenge, Lund injects Deemer and breaks open the animal cages. As the tarantula escapes, a fire starts, destroying Lund and the other animals, and later, Deemer buries Lund in the back. The next day, Matt, still disturbed by the rapid onset of acromegalia in Jacobs, insists on an autoposy, but finds nothing. Matt prepares to visit Deemer's lab to investigate, and along the way bumps into pretty Stephanie "Steve" Clayton, a graduate student who has just arrived in town to serve as Deemer's new assistant. Matt informs her about Jacobs' mysterious death, and takes her to the laboratory, where Deemer, who wants only to create a food synthetic to solve world hunger, shrugs off Matt's questions. Later, the doctor explains to Steve the serum's solution, and the radioactive isotrope that triggers it, to Steve. Over the next few days, Steve marvels at the rapid growth of Deemer's baby rats, but also notes the growing deformities in his hands. One day, ... +


In Desert Rock, Arizona, Sheriff Jack Andrews asks country doctor Matt Hastings to inspect the body of Eric Jacobs, a scientist who has died in the desert outside the laboratory of nutrient biologist Dr. Gerald Deemer. Noting that Jacobs had contracted the rare glandular disease acromegalia, which, over the course of years, causes gigantism, Matt does not believe Deemer's claim that his partner's illness set in only days earlier. Back at his lab, Deemer continues experimenting with a growth-inducing serum, but just after he injects a tarantula, his other lab partner, Paul Lund, who is now deformed, breaks into the lab. Deemer realizes that Lund, like Jacob, has grown crazed after being injected with the serum, and to wreak revenge, Lund injects Deemer and breaks open the animal cages. As the tarantula escapes, a fire starts, destroying Lund and the other animals, and later, Deemer buries Lund in the back. The next day, Matt, still disturbed by the rapid onset of acromegalia in Jacobs, insists on an autoposy, but finds nothing. Matt prepares to visit Deemer's lab to investigate, and along the way bumps into pretty Stephanie "Steve" Clayton, a graduate student who has just arrived in town to serve as Deemer's new assistant. Matt informs her about Jacobs' mysterious death, and takes her to the laboratory, where Deemer, who wants only to create a food synthetic to solve world hunger, shrugs off Matt's questions. Later, the doctor explains to Steve the serum's solution, and the radioactive isotrope that triggers it, to Steve. Over the next few days, Steve marvels at the rapid growth of Deemer's baby rats, but also notes the growing deformities in his hands. One day, Matt drives Steve through the desert, and when they stop to admire the rock formations, the tarantula, now twenty stories tall but hidden behind the rock, causes an avalanche from which the couple barely escapes. When Steve then shows Matt the rats, Deemer, now more deformed and unnaturally enraged by the acromegalia, shouts at her for revealing their experiments. At the same time, Matt is stopped on the road by Jack, who asks him to accompany him to local rancher Andy Andersen's, whose cows have been eaten whole. There, they discover a pool of liquid on the paddock ground. Although Matt takes samples, he can promise no answers. That night, the tarantula returns and devours Andy, while simultaneously, Matt discovers that the liquid is insect venom and calls Deemer to ask about it. Steve answers and admits that she has grown scared of Deemer, who overhears and grabs her. Matt races to the lab, followed by the tarantula. Inside, Deemer has collapsed and Matt, realizing the doctor has acromegalia, revives him and puts him to bed. There, Deemer confesses what has happened to his other associates, stating that he wanted only to complete his experiments before he died. Hearing about the tarantula that escaped, Matt rushes to an entomologist, who confirms that the venom came from a huge spider that has become ferocious and deadly. Meanwhile, the tarantula, still growing, walks across the desert, destroying phone lines, and later grows fascinated by Steve's beauty and stares in through her bedroom window. Matt rounds up the local police and arrives at Deemer's in time to save Steve, but as they drive away, the tarantula tracks them. Along the road, two policemen try to shoot the monster down, but it repels the bullets, prompting Matt to suggest that they call in the Air Force to bomb it. While everyone huddles in the streets as the tarantula approaches menacingly, the pilots arrive and begin dropping napalm bombs. Just before the tarantula can destroy the town, the napalm finally hits it target, and the spider explodes into flames, leaving the town safe. +

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.