Movie Review: Jack Hill’s Spider Baby (1967)

Image © American General, Lasky-Monka, 1967.
Image © American General, Lasky-Monka, 1967.


I haven’t watched a whole lot of black and white films, probably because growing up, I wouldn’t give them the time of day. Now that I’m a bit older, and I’ve had the benefit of having dated a cinephile, I am finally delving into the world of true classic movies, ones that, in many cases, were released before even my parents were born – and I do not regret this decision at all. My now ex-boyfriend’s movie collection is vast, with many titles that I’ve never seen, and a lot of them are older horror movies that have been added to my to-watch list. One of the titles, which I watched with him a few months ago, bore the odd and yet interesting name of Spider Baby. It’s definitely a film I’d watch again, and fortunately for me it is on Shudder.


My thoughts on this film might be a little off since it has been a while since I watched it, but I do want to applaud the simple fact that Spider Baby takes a more disturbing, taboo sort of approach to the comedic horror genre, in a way that was heartbreakingly sad (at least in my opinion, which isn’t all that great when it comes to films).


The Merrye Clan suffers from an odd degenerative “disease” of sorts that not only causes them to more or less devolve as they age, but to form murderous desires and strange obsessions. Ralph, Virginia, and Elizabeth are the orphaned youngsters of the family and are looked after by their caretaker and chauffeur, Bruno. When some distant relatives show up to lay claim to the estate, Bruno’s control on the situation falters and the odd peculiarities of the three children are brought to light.


While I’d love to go into more detail than that, and even explain the movie’s title, I feel that divulging that sort of information would be giving a bit too much detail for once. What I can say is that this is an excellent movie, with an interesting clash of dynamic characters. From the snobby aunt, to the playful uncle, to the caring Bruno… it’s really an interesting combo.

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