Spider Baby (1968) - Rotten Tomatoes

Spider Baby (1968)

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Movie Info

Exploitation titan Jack Hill, who went on to make such cult favorites as Switchblade Sisters, The Swinging Cheerleaders, and Foxy Brown, made his solo directorial debut with this fascinating, offbeat shocker. The three surviving children of Titus W. Merrye, who represent the end of his family's line, live in a dilapidated mansion where patient servant Bruno (Lon Chaney, Jr.) watches over the increasingly eccentric Virginia (Jill Banner), Ralph (Sid Haig), and Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn). All three Merrye siblings suffer from the same rare disease that felled their father and the other members of his family -- "Merrye Syndrome," a neurological ailment that begins to manifest itself at the age of ten, causing the brain to slowly decay and sending its victims into an alternately violent and infantile state. Bald, inarticulate Ralph is supposed to be a vegetarian, but "can eat anything he can catch," while Virginia, who seems to be in a perpetual dream state, imagines herself as a human spider and catches people in her "web" (a large net) and then kills them. While it might seem best to let nature to take its course and allow the family's sad legacy to die out, the Merrye siblings have two distant cousins, Emily Howe (Carol Ohmart) and Peter Howe (Quinn K. Redeker), who are interested in laying claim to the family mansion and any money remaining in the Merrye Estate. But not long after they pay a visit to Bruno, they start to have serious regrets about their decision to see the family. Shot in 1964, Spider Baby sat on the shelf until 1968, when it was briefly released as the second half of a horror double-bill on the drive-in circuit. But after it appeared on home video in the early '80s and was the subject of an enthusiastic essay in the book RE/Search: Incredibly Strange Films , the film began to develop a potent cult following and is now regarded as a minor classic of '60s horror. The film has also appeared under the misleading titles Cannibal Orgy and The Liver Eaters, as well as Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told.

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Cast

Carol Ohmart
as Emily Howe
Mantan Moreland
as Messenger
Karl Schanzer
as Schlocker
Sid Haig
as Ralph
Quinn K. Redeker
as Peter Howe
Jill Banner
as Virginia
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Critic Reviews for Spider Baby

All Critics (10)

Jack Hill's uncategorisable cult nasty is part Old Dark House/Addams Family black comedy, part Texas Chainsaw Massacre, before the whole thing winds up somewhere in Eraserhead territory.

Full Review… | October 17, 2016
Electric Sheep

Mere words cannot properly convey the uniqueness of this film, which should be sought out and seen by all with an interest in the genre.

Full Review… | October 17, 2016
TV Guide

Though hampered by bad distribution deals and multiple title changes, word of mouth helped Spider Baby to connect with fans of schlock cinema.

Full Review… | September 29, 2007
Slant Magazine

Two-Legged Freaks!

Full Review… | September 28, 2007

If you like trashy horror films, you should be thrilled with this special treat.

Full Review… | March 18, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A movie in which Lon Chaney, Jr. gives the best performance (roll that around in your mind), but one for which he sings the title song (don't think about that too long).

Full Review… | February 3, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Spider Baby

½

this is in the public domain so there's no excuse not to watch it!! totally the inspiration for 'texas chainsaw massacre' and other hillbilly horrors. yes it's very low budget and the acting and effects are pretty weak but there's a bizarre black comedy atmosphere about the film that really sucks u in. go watch it right now. happy halloween!!

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A pretty bizarre B-Movie. Black & White we open up with a little 1960'ties Black Comedy. The postman goes to what is rumored to be a haunted mansion, After the initial opening it turns real has into B- Suspense/ Horror. As the post man sticks his head in the window to see what that noise was, he is slashed by the young daughter of Lon Chaney Jr. A young couple come to adopt the two girls and the fun begins. This is just a B-Movie Cult Classic, though I often wonder what a film has to do to become a cult Classic. I can only squeeze out a 2 star rating on this one.

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

½

Think "Baby Doll" meets "Baby Jane". Director Jack Hill is to Lon Chaney Jr what Ed Wood was to Bella Lugosi. Only Hill did it with a lot more style. If you love horror films (cheesy or otherwise), this should be right up your alley. And you can't help but notice just how much this "cult classic" influenced many of the more successful horror directors of our time. And although the story and the special effects are a little weak...the acting and some of the cinematography are remarkably good.

Robert C
Robert C

Super Reviewer

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