Saturday, 15 June 2013


Hello Folks,Jonny T here with my review of the Blu-Ray release of Spider Baby,

Now i do have to say before i start that this may be a little bit of a "Gushing Fan Boy" kind of review as it is one of my all time favourite movies, I do a have a region 1 version that was released a good few years back which is pretty good but this release from Arrow Films is quite simply superb.
Also known as "The Maddest story ever told" it tells the story of three orphaned siblings who suffer from "Merrye Syndrome" a disease which appears to give them murderous desires amongst other symptons, They are cared for by a caretaker late great Lon Chaney JR. Who looks after them after their father’s death.

The films opening credits are  a great “Cartoon style” sequence and brilliant theme tune sung apparently by non-other than Lon Chaney JR, similar in tone to the likes of The Munster’s and The Addams family but I for one can certainly tell you it’s a lot darker than any of those other shows ever got!


The film opens with a guy reading from a book telling us the story of what they call “Merrye Syndrome”, so called because it existed only within the Merrye Family,Most experts and scientist denied that the syndrome ever existed, A syndrome we are told wherein the victim regresses to a pre natal/pre human state leading to insanity and even cannibalism.

When then see a postal working making his way happily along a road on a bright sunny day looking to make a delivery to the Merrye house, He stops to ask a couple of children if they know where the Merrye house is at which point their mother runs out and grabs the children and tells him pretty bluntly “If there is such a place we know nothing about it!” obviously the Merrye family are non-too popular with the local residents.

He eventually spots the house in the distance through the woods and drives up to the big gates at the front of the property, Dismounts his bike to see that the gates are chained shut but easily come open, He looks to his bike to ride up the path but weirdly his bike seems to shake as if to say “I ain’t going anywhere near that place!” so he takes the long walk up the driveway and see the house straight in front of him, the shot when we 1st see  the house is a near carbon copy scene of the 1st time you see the Psycho house in Hitchcock’s 1960’s classic. He ascends the long staircase and knocks on the door a couple of times, no answer, he then goes back out on to the porch and shouts “Is anybody home?” then mutters to himself in a very scared manner “I hope someone is home”. He spots what appears to be an open window and decides to go take a look, he pokes his head through the window to see a dilapidated and very grubby looking room, then boom! The sash window closes on the back of his neck trapping him solid at which point a young girl appears with a knife in each hand and what appears to be some form of cloth webbing between each hand, she moves very creepily from side to side eventually reaching the poor trapped postman, throws the webbing over him then starts to slash at him extremely violently resulting in us seeing one of his ears fall to the floor, so from the quirky opening credits and comedic tone set this is now blown apart by our introduction to the 1st Merrye family member, Virginia.The SpiderBaby.

We then get to see for the 1st time Bruno (Lon Chaney JR) Driving back to the Merrye house in it has to be said a very very cool car, He arrives at the gates and see’s the postman’s abandoned bike, this throws him in to a panic as he know what the family are capable off, he drives up to house, leaves the car and starts shouting for Virginia and Elizabeth, We see Virginia happily skipping in the garden and Elizabeth appears on the porch telling him that Virginia has done something “Real Bad" He spots the poor old postal workers body hanging out of the window, He then goes back down the stairs where Virginia spots Bruno's car and runs to it shouting “Ralph, Ralph, Ralph!!” Bruno returns to the car, Opens the back door and out comes Ralph, A role played brilliant by the great man Sid Haig, Now from this you can clearly tell that it is Virginia and Ralph that are the main 2 affected mostly by Merrye Syndrome, Whereas Virginia is still slightly coherent Ralph has lost his mind completely. Bruno sit’s them down at the top of the stairs and tries to explain the rights and wrongs but the sadness in his voice and face clearly indicates that he is fighting a losing battle, Ralph then retrieves the letter from the postman and takes it over to Bruno who starts to read it, The letter states that there will be some people coming who will become the legal guardians of the children as the last surviving members of the Merrye family, They will becoming on the 14th……..Today is the 14th! Bruno states and then tells the children they have to keep some secrets, now with them all together the film really starts in earnest.

We see them start to clean up the house, The girls clean up the blood whilst Bruno seems to put what appears to be a wrapped up body in a laundry chute and sends it down to the cellar, He then reveals a secret door down into the cellar which he goes down into and we hear all manner of strange noises, so maybe Ralph, Virginia and Elizabeth aren’t the only remaining family members?

So the guardians arrive and it’s obvious from the start that they have only greedy intentions and don’t really give a crap about the children,Bruno susses them out pretty quickly and from here on in it’s a non stop insane rollercoaster ride, such scenes as Ralph thinking a cat’s a rabbit, We also get a brilliant dinner table scene much in the vain of Todd Brownings much maligned classic Freaks where all what is served up is questionable to say the very least, The ending is also brilliant and does not let the film down in anyway, the end credits also end with “The End?” So who knows maybe one day and with the current climate it may get a remake but I doubt whatever the calibre of the cast, crew and director could ever come close to the atmosphere and great performances shown in Jack Hill’s Original, Here is a great quote from IMDB “as I'm a child of the 80's and typically prefer blood, guts, tits, and ass over the black-and-white, "atmospheric" stuff - but I did really enjoy SPIDER BABY. “and what a quote it is! A solid gold cult classic and a truly awesome release.


Now it has to be said that the extras on this release really make it stand out head and shoulders above other releases that have been out before, these include,

The Hatching of SpiderBaby - A documentary where a host of stars talk about the movie including Sid Haig.

Spider Stravinsky- Another great documentary on the films score composer,

Audio Commentary - from both Jack Hill and Sid Haig.

The Merrye house revisited – A great little segment where they revisit the house where it was filmed and it’s still standing and looks as creepy as ever!

Alternative opening sequence – Where we get to see the film’s original title of “Cannibal Orgy”

Cast and Crew Panel Discussion – A real fascinating part of the extra’s where audience members ask some great questions and get some great answers!

The Host – A short film by Jack Hill, A crazy western types short featuring Sid Haig with hair!

An extended scene and Trailer.

I do have many of the Arrow Video releases and I have to say that this one is up there with the best of them, Not just because of the fact that it is one of my favourite movies but everything down from the superb sleeve art, to the brilliant extra’s, You can really tell with the restoration of it that was supervised by Jack Hill that some much love and care has gone into this release and it should now deservedly hit the radar of many people that have yet to see this long lost classic. And if you are one of those people yet to see it I highly recommend that you do or if you have seen it I cannot recommend this version highly enough, Now since I have been doing this site not many films have received this rating but I do have to give this release a solid 10/10,(Told you I’d gush!)Spiderbaby dual DVD/BLU-RAY will be available from Arrow Films Monday 17th JUNE.
Jonny T.




Arrow Video: Official Website

Arrow Video: Official Twitter

Arrow Video: Official Facebook

Arrow Video Official YouTube Channel

No comments:

Post a Comment