This little independent film went through the roof in 1975 and made box-office history, becoming one of the Top 50 highest-grossing films of 1975. Few movies in film history have enjoyed the success, notoriety and shelf life of this all-time, cult classic – “The Giant Spider Invasion.” Produced on a miniscule budget of only $300,000, it scared up over $24-million in US theaters and then doubled that gross from foreign sales. Since its theatrical release, “The Giant Spider Invasion” has seen four major runs on television and has become a B-movie cult classic. “The Official Razzie Movie Guide” lists it as one of “The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made” and it has consistently been a favorite of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans (who memorably skewered it).
It has also been said this was the motion picture that helped to resolve the Iran Hostage crisis. As told in the Warner Brothers film, “Argo” (2012, Ben Affleck), it was “The Giant Spider Invasion” reportedly that created the idea, as used by the CIA, to enter Iran under the pretext of making a fictional movie, in order to rescue the hostages.
The film was produced and directed by Bill Rebane, who shot on locations in his home state of Wisconsin. Rebane has produced many films over his career, most of which have attained some amount of cult film status, including “Monster a Go-Go,” “The Capture of Bigfoot,” “Rana the Legend of Shadow Lake,” and “Blood Harvest” starring the one and only, Tiny Tim. Rebane always worked with low budgets, however, he was a savvy filmmaker and stretched those budgets to the max. He wisely added a mix of Hollywood names of the day, which enhanced the playability and acceptance of TGSI worldwide. Who was not familiar with the ‘Skipper’ Alan Hale, or Perry Mason’s side-kick Barbara Hale? He also included the lovely Leslie Parrish – Li’l Abner’s “Daisy Mae,” and Robert Easton of “Paint Your Wagon” fame? And for good measure, Rebane also cast veteran movie heavy Steve Brodie, plus drive-in starlets – Diane Lee Hart “Pom, Pom Girls” and Christiane Schmidtmer, the warden in “The Big Doll House.”
Perhaps the most amazing feat accomplished in the production, was the creation of the giant spider. Rebane reported that the film’s distributor insisted he deliver the finished movie with creature special effects to rival the shark in “Jaws,” which was then in production. Without the equivalent effects budget, Rebane again had to be extremely creative. “We had a VW sitting at the studio and a friend of mine asked – Can we make a spider out of that?” Rebane’s friend Carl Pfantz figured it out. “Pfantz’s steel framework was covered with black Fun Fur to make the spiders both hairy and scary.” said Rebane, “And the mechanical nature of the beast required seven people to be stuffed within the cramped confines of the VW floor pan – a driver and six children to work the spider’s legs.”
“The Giant Spider Invasion,” was a hilariously, cheesy, 1975 throwback to the giant-monster flicks of the 50s. Though it is certainly unfair to make direct comparisons with those iconic classics of Hollywood’s golden era, somehow this independent low budget enigma, has managed to hold its own for 40 years. As it continues crawling along, with its tall hairy legs and VW power, it has surely become a constant reminder of movies before the digital age and the effects craze of the 21st century.
VCI Entertainment is set to release, “The Giant Spider Invasion,” on a limited, 3-disc, special edition Blu-ray June 9, 2015. The Blu-ray release is part of an exclusive ‘boutique’ strategy aimed at creating a ‘collectible’ for hard-core horror and cult-film fans. The Blu-ray is also packed with Bonus Features and content including: “Size Does Matter” a new 2015 documentary by Daniel Griffith; over 2-hours of archival footage and interviews; the condensed Super-8 version of the movie – in both HD and SD; a separate music CD containing the complete “TGSI – The Musical;” printed replica of the original comic book; and more.
VCI’s production will be limited and will only be available to purchase from VCI’s own website, or by calling (800) 331-4077, while supply lasts. The Blu-ray is available to pre-order now. The price is $24.99 plus shipping and handling.
VCI is also releasing a DVD version on June 9th, which will be available from all DVD retailers, as well as the VCI website. The DVD was produced from the same HD master used for the Blu-ray, however it contains a more limited set of Bonus Features.
In this hilariously, cheesy throwback to the giant-monster flicks craze of the 50s, giant spiders from outer space begin to invade Earth, when a huge black hole appears in a farmer’s field outside a small town in Wisconsin. A NASA scientist deduces the invasion is the result of some sort of intergalactic gateway, as he devises a plan to stop the huge, hairy, creeping crawlers from devouring the local population