Tarantula (1955)

tarantula poster 1955 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun B-Movie

The tarantula really doesn't do anything

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tarantula

Studio:  Universal Studios

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  December 14, 1955

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


The tarantula is totally going to get a ticket for jaywalking

A man horribly deformed with acromegaly is found dead in the desert and which leads to an investigation into how he quickly succumbed to the disease. As the town doctor Matt Hastings (John Agar) is led to the lab of Professor Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll), Hastings, a reporter, and the doctor’s new lab assistant Stephanie Clayton (Mara Corday) uncover that the doctor’s experiments might be tied to the death. Unknown to Professor Deemer, Hastings, and Clayton is that his assistant wasn’t the only escapee during a lab fire and that something immense is wandering the desert and killing.

Tarantula was directed by Jack Arnold and part of the big monster invasion films that combine elements of horror and sci-fi.  It has a great ’50s monster poster with the tarantula menacing women and people running in fear.  There is also a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance by Clint Eastwood as one of the jet fighter pilots in an uncredited early role.


Hey…look at my impression of the Elephant Man!

The movie is interesting in that the giant tarantula (a Mexican red-rump tarantula) seems almost incidental to the plot. The real story seems to be Professor Deemer’s experiments and his rush to find a cure to the fast-acting acromegaly which killed his partner and is now mutating him. The make-up on Carroll as he quickly is transformed by is kind of fun and worth watching.

The giant tarantula honestly doesn’t do much. The obviously chromakey tarantula just kind of wanders around, very un-menacingly. An attack on Stephanie Clayton just involves a close up of the tarantula outside of her window. The whole ending to the film just has the tarantula firebombed by jets…and die. I kind of expected more “tarantula” in Tarantula. I would have rather seen the giant rats and guinea pigs in the lab (or I could just watch Food of the Gods for that).


Thank God Clint Eastwood is here for us!!!

Like most ’50s B-Movies the acting is rather over the top.  Mara Corday screams a lot, and John Agar is “dashing” as her potential new boyfriend. Leo G. Carroll does eat up his scenes and as the maniacal doctor who is a bit of a sad character. Though, I didn’t see him “over a barrel” as The Rocky Horror Show promised.

Tarantula is classic ’50s B-Movie so fans of the genre should seek it out. Like most movies of the age, they aren’t very long and the low budget adds fun instead of the doldrums of many of the straight-to-video or DVD films of the ’80s and ’90s.  With movies like Mega Piranha and Mega-Shark Vs. Giant-Octopus making the rounds there is a bit of a return to the creature feature, but they don’t compare to the originals.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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