Spider Baby (1964)

“This has gone well beyond the boundaries of prudence and good taste.” Love it or loathe it, this camp classic is a demented little low-budget horror flick/black comedy you won’t soon forget! A rundown mansion in the middle of nowhere serves as the home of the “Merrye” clan – “Elizabeth” (Beverly Washburn), “Ralph” (Sid Haig) and “Virginia” (Jill Banner) – three mentally ill, cannibalistic, orphaned siblings (victims of a family curse, the “Merrye Syndrome,” which causes them to mentally degenerate starting around the age of 10) cared for by loyal family chauffeur “Bruno” (Lon Chaney, Jr.). All hell breaks loose when a couple of greedy relatives, “Emily” (Carol Ohmart) and “Peter” (Quinn Redeker), along with their lawyer “Schlocker” (Karl Schanzer) and his assistant “Ann” (Mary Mitchel), arrive unannounced to claim the estate. Also look for Mantan Moreland as an extremely unlucky messenger. Written and directed by Jack Hill, Spider Baby (subtitled “The Maddest Story Ever Told”) was filmed in 1964 and originally titled Cannibal Orgy but not released until 1968 due to the original production company’s bankruptcy. The opening theme was sung by Chaney himself: “This cannibal orgy is strange to behold/And the maddest story ever told …” Hill, who also directed such classic exploitation films as The Big Doll House (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972), Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), was once described by Quentin Tarantino as “The Howard Hawks of Exploitation Filmmaking.”

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