Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)
D. - Jack Hill.
Horror fans only familiar with Sid Haig from his recent Rob Zombie flicks or with Lon Chaney, Jr. from his hairy heyday of The Wolf Man should do themselves the favor of experiencing these two genre legends at the beginning and the end of their respective careers.
Writer/director Jack Hill’s fascinating blend of macabre humor and bizarre chills revolves around the Merrye family, stricken with a “progressive age regression” disease that leads to childlike behavior and cannibalism. The three remaining members of the Merrye family, played by Haig, Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner, are cared for by family chauffeur Chaney who is constantly covering up for their less socially acceptable ways. Carol Ohmart (Vincent Price’s wife from House on Haunted Hill) heads up a group of distant relatives seeking the family inheritance unwittingly drawn into the “children’s” games.
Great performances all around combined with Hill’s dementedly dizzy dialogue add up to a delicious combo of shock and satire, with a justly famous dinner table scene providing one of many highlights. Trivia: That’s Chaney himself singing the oogy-boogy title song.