was one of the classic sf films made during the 1950s by
director Jack Arnold. Arnold debuted with It
Came from Outer Space (1953) and made other classics
such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and The
Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).
Tarantula was undoubtedly inspired by the
success of the giant atomic ant film Them! the year
before. Although the one difference between Tarantula and Them!
and almost any other 50s giant monster movie is that Tarantula
eschews atomic radiation as the catch-all explanation for what
is going on. Instead it falls back on the 1930s and 40s staple
of the mad scientist. In this respect it straddles a line
between two eras - it’s a new breed of monster movie of the
1950s with enlarged creatures rampaging across the landscape
and endangering society, and on another level it points the
finger of blame at scientists traversing into areas of
is considered one of the best giant bug movies of the 1950s.
Director Jack Arnold is a master at conveying unearthly menace
through the desert landscape, and the scenes of the gigantic
tarantula creeping over the horizons are chillingly effective.
The memorable score is by Henry Mancini and Herman Stein.
Clint Eastwood pops up in the end as a jet sqad leader, though
he's hidden by his oxygen mask.
the small Arizona town of Desert Rock, local GP Matthew
Hastings puzzles over the case of scientist Eric Jacobs, found
dead with an extreme case of acromegalia, a medical condition
of uncontrolled bone growth, and wonders how such a case could
have developed in a matter of days.
meets Stephanie Clayton, the new research assistant of
Jacobs’ employer, Professor Gerald Deemer. Together they
discover that Deemer is trying to create a formula that will
grow animals to giant sizes as a means of solving food
shortages. But then Deemer is injected with the growth formula
and Stephanie sees him starting to develop hideous acromegalia
too. Meanwhile a tarantula that has been injected with the
formula escapes from the laboratory and starts growing to
giant-size, killing cattle and then people.