|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Giant Spider Invasion [Blu-ray]
(Bill Rebane, 1975)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Transcentury Pictures
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 37,497,343,886 bytes
Feature Size: 20,222,828,544 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.97 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 2nd, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec:MPEG-2 Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
• Size Does Matter - The Making of The Giant Spider Invasion
• The SUPER-8 Version (28:27)
• Archival Interviews with director Bill Rebane and members of the Giant Spider Invasion cast and crew (2:13:17)
• Archival Interview with Robert Easton (17:01)
• Kevin Murphy of “Mystery Science Theater” introduces Bill Rebane (7:07)
• Archival Newsreel - Bill Rebane on the set of “Rana” (7:37)
• Bonus Music Sampler – 4 Tracks from the “The Giant Spider Invasion – The Musical”
• Liner Notes written by Tom Stockman, WeAreMovieGeeks.com
4-page liner notes comic strip version
Description: In this hilariously cheesy throwback to the giant-monster flicks craze of the 50s, giant spiders from outer space begin to invade Earth, when huge black hole appears in a farmer’s field outside a small town in Wisconsin. A NASA scientist deduces the invasion is the result of some sort of intergalactic gateway, as he devises a plan to stop the huge, hairy, creeping crawlers from devouring the local population.
The giant spider-queen in The Giant Spider Invasion looks ridiculous, but director Bill Rebane still manages a few effective moments, like the scene in which a wolf-spider drops into Leslie Parrish's blender as she's mixing a Bloody Mary. The audience knows it's there, but the Kesters don't, creating a funny sequence as they shuffle the glass between them, picking it up and almost drinking several times until Parrish gets a mouthful of creepy-crawly. There's also a fairly impressive bit in which the spider-queen devours a man alive, pushing his body slowly into its gaping maw with huge hairy fangs. Unfortunately, Rebane continually undercuts the film with unconvincing long shots of the spider shuffling across the plains (at one point it's obviously a Volkswagen with a carpet on top) and absolutely awful sub-Hee-Haw humor. Alan Hale Jr. himself is the prime offender here, exemplified by his look at a Geiger-counter: "We don't have any Geigers 'round these parts." The two scientists also get unintentional laughs with goofy theorizing about quantuum mechanics and particle-beams, which seems extremely out of place amidst the Kornfield Kounty ambience of the film. This is a perversely entertaining disaster.
Bill Rebane's backyard wonder is a hilariously hokey throwback to the giant-monster flicks of the 50s, while taking its only pseudo-scientific conceit from the mid-70s trend of popular "black hole" theories, combining these two elements to create pure bad-movie heaven. A tiny, decrepit town in rural Wisconsin is rocked by a mysterious explosion, after which a drunken farmer (Robert Easton) discovers dozens of crystal geodes strewn across his property. Cracking each one open reveals a diamond-like encrustation (which to the farmer's dismay proves nearly worthless), as well as a hairy but decidedly un-cosmic tarantula. Being permanently soused, he fails to notice the latter (his equally boozy wife accidentally purees one in her daiquiri!) until the rocks begin opening on their own, and the entire farm is overrun with eight-legged invaders. Despite the title, only one of the spiders would qualify for giant status, but it's definitely a keeper: the Big Daddy arachnid is quite clearly a Volkswagen Beetle covered with black fake fur, with legs operated by the car's passengers and taillights doubling for glowing red eyes. Unfortunately, it is merely glimpsed through much of the film, making its triumphant appearance in the final few minutes.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
This horribly realized film has surfaced on Blu-ray - advertised as a 'Special Edition' and produced by VCI. Compounding the film's modest production levels and transparent effects - is VCI's MPEG-2 encode (as opposed to AVC). With it they continue to transfer the worst 1080P in the business. There are plenty of inconsistencies showing softness and Chroma-like artifacts. The transfer is hazy, flat and lifeless appearing much more like video than film and even the colors look unrealistic with a pink hue. I have no personal vendetta against VCI - but someone should indicate to them the current state-of-the-art HD transfer encodes. The conclusion is so dark it's almost unwatchable. This is very poor.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
A linear PCM that handles the film's audio a shade better than the video transfer. Again, at the mercy of the original production. It can be scattered with some volume fluctuation but dialogue is audible. There is no official score but the film does have music by Maniac Pursuit, Brickbats, Nerve Centre but its is fairly unremarkable in the uncompressed. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE (despite the box back-cover stating 'Region A').
There are lots of extras! Size Does Matter - The Making of The Giant Spider Invasion is a 1/4 hour video piece housed on the Blu-ray disc along with 1/2 hour of the SUPER-8 Version (remastered but, predictably, weak) of the film. There is also a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery slideshow for 14-minutes and 8-minutes worth of the original The Giant Spider Invasion theatrical trailer and TV Spots. On the Bonus Disc DVD: we also get the The SUPER-8 Version (although it runs a bit shorter), plenty of archival Interviews (over 2 -hours worth) with director Bill Rebane and members of the cast and crew. There is a separate interview with Robert Easton running just over 17-minutes and a reasonably effective Kevin Murphy of “Mystery Science Theater” introducing Bill Rebane. There is a, fairly unrelated, archival Newsreel with Bill Rebane on the set of “Rana” plus there is a 3rd disc CD with 4 Tracks from the “The Giant Spider Invasion – The Musical”. The package has liner Notes written by Tom Stockman through the inside cover of the case and a 4-page liner notes comic strip version (which may be the best thing about the Blu-ray).
January 29th, 2016
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS