Year: 1955

Production: Universal

Director: Jack Arnold

Starring: John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott

Screenwriter: Robert M. Fresco, Martin Berkeley

Based on an episode of Science Fiction Theatre called No Food for Thought by Robert M. Fresco

80 minutes; Color

This better-than-average monster movie belongs to the Luddite technology-out-of-control genre. Two idealistic biochemists experiment with nutrients that cause gigantism in animals (which would help feed the world) but (unexpectedly) acromegaly in humans, a horrible deformity that destroys one scientist and then, rather later, the other (an affecting performance by Carroll). A tarantula injected with the nutrient escapes into the desert and grows to a vast size. It preys on cattle and people before being incinerated by the USAF using napalm. Arnold makes strong use of the desert setting, creating a kind of watchful stillness, where the giant spider seems natural rather than alien.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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