Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Revenge of the Giant Spider Invasion!


A few days ago, David Lohr published an article on AOL's Weird News site entitled, "Junkyard Michelangelo Dick Schaefer Turns Rusty Old Cars Into Glorious Monsters". As the title suggests, Lohr's article is about how Schaefer, a retired automotive dismantler who lives in Erie, PA, turns scrap metal from his brother's junkyard into sculptures. The article features a few photos of the junk artist's work, but the one that stood out for me was one of Schaefer's own favorites: a spider he made out of a 1970s Volkswagen Beetle.


Seeing this picture reminded me of another, er, creative work that relied on using Volkswagens as giant spiders: the 1975 big bug movie, The Giant Spider Invasion.


In this campy z-grade film, giant spiders terrorize a small town in Wisconsin. It was directed by Bill Rebane, who directed other campy z-grade films such as Blood Harvest (the one and only slasher film that featured Tiny Tim in a starring role), Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, and Monster a-Go-Go. Like Monster a-Go-Go, Giant Spider Invasion was skewered on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

To create the largest of the giant spiders, Rebane had fake fur and puppet legs attached to metal frameworks that were built around Volkswagen Beetles. The end result is far less than convincing, due in no small part to the tread marks that the spiders leave behind in a few shots.



Among the film's cast was Alan Hale Jr., who is largely known for his role as The Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Fun big bug trivia: One of the episodes in the third season of Gilligan's Island, "The Pigeon", featured a giant spider.

Learn more about this piece of cinematic junk art at the official Giant Spider Invasion site. You can also check out the official Bill Rebane site, which features audio clips of songs from Giant Spider Invasion: The Musical. Eat your heart out, Spider-Man musical!



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