• Tarantula (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: August 1st, 2018.
    Director: Jack Arnold
    Cast: John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott, Edwin Rand
    Year: 1955
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    Tarantula – Movie Review:

    Jack Arnold’s 1955 killer spider movie Tarantula introduces us to Professor Gerald Deemer (Leo G. Carroll), an industrious man with big brains and a strong work ethic. He’s the genius behind a newly developed growth formula, the kind of growth formula that he naively hopes will be used for good and never cause unexpected results when being tested on a tarantula in an otherwise perfectly safe laboratory setting.

    Oops. Soon, Professor Deemer finds himself over a barrel (sorry) when said spider doesn’t just double in size as he had figured it would… no, this thing keeps growing and growing and growing and before you know it, this thing has escaped into the deserts of Arizona and goes rampaging across the landscape. When young Dr. Matt Hastings (John Agar) gets word of this, he hopes to do what he can with a bit of help from Deemer’s foxy ‘assistant’ Stephanie 'Steve' Clayton (Mara Corday) and a spunky town sheriff (Nestor Paiva) the race is on to stop this beast before it lays waste to everyone and everything in its path.

    Jack Arnold gave us a lot of kick-ass B-movies in his day, having directed legitimate classics like The Creature From The Black Lagoon and its first sequel and The Incredible Shrinking Man to fun B—movies like It Came From Outer Space and High School Confidential. Tarantula falls somewhere in the middle, not his best but not his worst. If it lacks the awesomeness of something like the Creature films, its still a seriously entertaining vintage sci-fi picture made on a modest budget. If you’re not feeling too picky, it is a really enjoyable way to kill some time!

    Like a lot of monster movies, the film is at its best when the creature itself is on screen. For this particular film, Arnold and company used an actual tarantula and some air jets to manipulate its movements on various sets. It works quite well, and the spider moves like an actual spider rather than an animatronic or stop-motion creation (not that there’s anything wrong with those effects tactics!). While it’s fair to criticize the movie for not featuring enough giant spider mayhem, anytime or titular eight-legged behemoth shows up, the movie is gold. We also get some cool makeup effects and a giant guinea pig thrown into the mix for good measure.

    Thankfully, even when the spider isn’t on screen we’ve got a pretty cool cast to keep us entertained. Carroll makes for a fine scientist, he looks like a ‘smart guy’ and plays the role well. John Agar is fine in his part as well, while Mara Corday is a stone-cold fox through and through. The cast do a nice job of bringing this all together, and hey, check out a young Clint Eastwood in an uncredited early role as a fighter pilot

    Tarantula – DVD Review:

    Tarantula hits DVD from Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment in a single layered disc framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen in a nice-looking progressive transfer. Detail, for a standard definition offering, is pretty solid and we get nice black levels. There are some minor compression artifacts in a few spots but contrast is fine, we get nice clean whites and fine greys. Obviously, a Blu-ray could have yielded better results but this looks quite nice.

    The Dolby Digital English language Mono track on the disc is fine. Dialogue is perfectly clear and easy to follow. There’s some minor sibilance in one or two spots if you listen for it but otherwise, no issues at all. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.

    There are no extras on the disc, not even a menu.

    Tarantula – The Final Word:

    Tarantula is a pretty fun way to kill eighty-minutes or so. The movie is nicely paced and feature some pretty enjoyable performances. It isn’t deep and it shows its age, but there’s plenty of entertainment value here. If the DVD from Umbrella is the very definition of barebones, at least it does present the picture in very nice shape.