Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I finally saw Spider Baby. I had heard about it for so long--that it was weird, gross, odd. Three things that I really like. It is also of the "inbred cannibal family" genre which is very near and dear to my heart AND stars Lon Chaney Jr. Sign me up!
This 1964 oddity directed by Jack Hill languished away in Hollywood purgatory for a few years before it was eventually released (dumped) on the Drive-In circuit. Lon Chaney and this film deserved better than that. Spider Baby is the story of the last 5 descendants of the Merrye family- a family cursed with it's own special syndrome that has you emotionally and mentally regressing into an animal beginning in your late teens. I think I know a few people who may suffer from this very syndrome. Not naming names but lets just say one of these people signs my paychecks.
The three most "together" Merryes are Ralph (Sid Haig), a strange man child who doesn't speak but can kill a cat and do some raping like no ones business, and his two feral sisters, Elizabeth and Virginia. Virginia is the most "murder-y" of the three. She likes to play a game called "Spider", where she traps you in a web and stabs you with two knives.
Taking care of the Merryes is my love, Lon Chaney Jr. This is him at his most bloated and alcoholic. I always see him as Larry Talbot. He was Talbot: an ordinary man cursed in many ways. Chaney plays Bruno, the chauffeur who was tasked with taking care of this family. He loves them and tries to steer them right, but the urge to rape, kill, and eat people is just too strong.
This happy family begins to fall apart when greedy distant relatives show up with their Hitler mustache loving Lawyer, intent on institutionalizing the family and sending Bruno on his merry way (hahahahahahaha). The family is not having any of it and as you can imagine, raping and killing get underway!
This is an odd little film that is a little scary, a lot silly, and 100% bizarre. Chaney turns in a very good performance here: you really feel for Bruno. And he cries! Lord help me when old Chaney cries. I just want to give him a shot of whiskey to make it all better. As a bonus Chaney sings the theme song, which I have included for your viewing and listening pleasure. Now if you will excuse me I have to go wash my eyes out with soap.