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also known as Cannibal Orgy

Spider Baby1967

Or, The Maddest Story Ever Told

  • 4.0
In a dilapidated rural mansion, the last generation of the degenerate, inbred Merrye family lives with the inherited curse of a disease that causes them to mentally regress from the age of ten or so on as they physically develop. The family chauffeur looks out for them and covers up their indiscretions. Trouble comes when greedy distant relatives and their lawyer arrive to dispossess the family of its home.

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5 members like this review

Written and directed by Jack HIll, Spider Baby is a great showcase of his ability to create memorable films on low budgets. What would have been throwaway projects for most directors of the period he infused with creativity and energy. In his hands, Coffy became a gripping and sympathetic character in the middle of a lurid revenge story about drugs and prostitution. In Spider Baby, Hill also focused on developing characters and found a good cast do it with, but what stands out for me is the tone of the film. The horror elements and the black humor mesh wonderfully. The little touches in film, particularly the ending, added to my enjoyment.

I have seen Spider Baby at least three times, and for every viewing the film seemed fresh. I cannot say that for many films.

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Member Reviews (13)

Fcf6fb169196e4e741748e3f5c431fb4?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0084
top reviewer

Written and directed by Jack HIll, Spider Baby is a great showcase of his ability to create memorable films on low budgets. What would have been throwaway projects for most directors of the period he infused with creativity and energy. In his hands, Coffy became a gripping and sympathetic character in the middle of a lurid revenge story about drugs and prostitution. In Spider Baby, Hill also focused on developing characters and found a good cast do it with, but what stands out for me is the tone of the film. The horror elements and the black humor mesh wonderfully. The little touches in film, particularly the ending, added to my enjoyment.

I have seen Spider Baby at least three times, and for every viewing the film seemed fresh. I cannot say that for many films.

5 members like this review
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top reviewer

Certifiably, delightfully, MAD! "Spider Baby" is a macabre black comedy that soars out way out in left field. Writer-Director (and one-time Roger Corman portege) Jack Hill takes a deft, offbeat approach to this low-budget gothic-cum-beatnik fable of madness and murder and in the process, gives Lon Channey Jr. one last glorious hurrah. The film also features memorable performances by Jill Banner (who died before she could leave a greater mark in her career) and the one and only Sid Haig. "Spider Baby" a one-of-a-kind, a true gem in the Psychotronic treasure box.

2 members like this review

Love it! One of my all-time cult favorites. If you have any predilection for this type of movie, then the less you know about it going in, the better. All I can say is, don't miss Creighton Chaney's (aka Lon Jr.) "singing" on the title track.

1 member likes this review
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"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright."

We lost our internet service over the weekend, so I broke out my Universal Monsters Essentials Collection DVD and watched "The Wolfman." A nice job of restoration by the way. Excellent picture quality and sound. When it was over, Xfinity still hadn't fixed the problem. So, I also watched an extra on the life of Lon Chaney Jr. It was brief, but at the same time, included a lot of interesting information. The short doc mentioned that Chaney's last significant film was "Spider Baby" and how it had become a cult classic. That's the backstory.

The film itself is quirky and strange but also oddly appealing. Sort of an extreme version of The Adams Family. A disease has been passed down to the Merrye family where the members start regressing (on the evolutionary scale) beginning in their teen-age years. Their diet consists of critters that they can capture in or out of the house. Virginia, in particular, likes to "play spider." A game in which she traps someone with a net and then "stings them" by cutting the "bug" to shreds. The scraps are fed to the troglodytes in the basement. Meanwhile, Bruno tries to keep their unconventional life-style under wraps as additional relatives move in and try to have the family members committed whilst cashing in on the assets.

This is one of LCJ's finest roles exuding compassion and reassurance in the midst of chaos. Caught between a sleazy lawyer, greedy relatives and the mentally unbalanced, Bruno tries to do the right thing and keep the promise that he made to the Merrye family.

The ride on the crazy train comes to a sudden stop. Or does it?

It's a shame that Lon Chaney Jr. passed away before the film was released. He would have been proud of its reception and current cult classic status.

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"It's not nice to hate." This film isn't for everybody.

it was great

fantastic film! loved it, nicely filmed in lush B/W , great lighting even the day for night is well done, also liked the sexy bits lol, all in all very enjoyable, well done!!!

This movie is wacko and will send shivers down your spine!

The maddest story ever told!

Wonderful black humor, Lon Chaney, and a great ending.....Fantastic!!

This is one of the GREATEST FILMS EVER! Seriously. It's funny, sweet, strange, and lovable. A must watch!

One of the most definitive examples of a "cult" movie I've ever seen, yet worthwhile for almost anyone to watch. Tragedy, farce, comedy and a mild slasher, all rolled up into one. Far better acted than most cults though, and with few of the typical production and dialogue gaffes. Perhaps Lon Chaney Jr.'s best role, or at least one of his best later roles that allowed him the most leeway to act. However, I do wonder how much better it would have been were a bit more money made available to the director.

Maybe it's because I'm used to the bloody, gore-infused, vomit-inducing macabre films of today, but I found Spider Baby more tame than I expected. With that being said, Lon Chaney Jr. and his supporting cast were brilliant in their performances, especially the two young girls and their older brother in their remarkable portrayals of mentally unhinged psychopathic children. Inherited insanity is an effective vehicle for establishing tension and despair as these children are inflicted with the woes of past generations, all the evil trapped inside being completely beyond their control. That is the saddest, most disheartening aspect of The Maddest Story Ever Told. These small creatures are victims of a cruel fate that manifests itself in many forms and features. This is a tragic tale, but a cleverly manufactured one that really elucidates a modern viewer to past perceptions of mental illness before it was properly and systematically understood. I would definitely recommend.