Friday, May 20, 2005

"I like spiders...I like spiders"

Spiderbaby, AKA The Maddest Story Ever Told, AKA The Liver Eaters, AKA Cannibal Orgy is a grand guignol of dementia written and directed by Jack Hill.

The Merrye Syndrome is a rare disease that affects only members of the Merrye family. It causes its victims to regress mentally to a state of savagery. The only living members of the family are the young children of Titus Merrye: Virginia (Jill Banner), who fancies herself a spider and likes to eat insects; Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn); and Ralph (sid Haig), who, being the oldest, is the most regressed- a six foot toddler. The children are watched over by Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.), the family chauffeur, who had made an oath to his patron Titus Merrye to take care of them forever.

Distant cousin Peter Howe (Quinn Redecker) and his sister Emily (Carol Ohmart) arrive with their lawyer Shlocker (Karl Schanzer) and his secretary Ann (Mary Mitchell), with the intention of taking over the property and institutionalizing the children. Hijinx follow...

Ronald Stein & Lon Cheney Jr. - Rehearsing (Mp3)
Ronald Stein & Lon Cheney Jr. - Spiderbaby Theme (Mp3)

Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film is an underrated masterpiece of the surreal and absurd...from the opening theme song to the premise. With its high contrast black and white and the action taking place in a large mansion with unidentifiable crap strewn everywhere, Spiderbaby truly exists in another reality.

The most notable and enduring aspect of Spiderbaby is the stunning cast- Lon Chaney Jr., in one of his last roles, has a sad a defeated gait. Sid Haig as Ralph, the oldest cretin sibling, is innocent and frightening. But Jill Banner as Virginia steals the show with her subtle naive sexuality. Through the film she slowly seduces her Uncle Peter with the smallest gestures, only to come to a head...

"I like spiders...I like spiders"
Spiderbaby - Virginia and Uncle Peter (Mp3)

The score was composed by Ronald Stein, who also did work for Dementia 13 and Attack of the 50 ft woman, among many others. Varese Sarabande has a collection of his music called "Not of this Earth". Here is one of my favorites:

Ronald Stein - Dementia 13 theme (Mp3)


Blogger guapo said...

Hey fatty jubbo! I always loved this movie. It`s Jack Hill`s finest moment as a director followed by "Switchblade Sisters" and "Coffy"-in that order! And Sid Haig is great!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Katya Oddio said...

Nine years old or thereabouts, I stayed with the neighborhood babysitter all day while the other kids went to school. Even the sickly little girl who was born with water on the brain was well enough to go to class, but I was too sick. Our babysitter set me up with my own little sick station on the couch buried under afgans and nylon blankets. Tissues, Sucrets, coloring books, drawing pads. Although I was never able to vomit even as a baby, she insisted that I keep the garbage can by my head. It made me queesy with the smell of old banana peels and canned soup.

In and out of conciousness, I watched her from that couch, flitting around the house, grinding a giant sort of lipstick tube of rouge into her cheeks in the bathroom mirror, carrying newspapers to the fireplace, cooking somethign strange called "potted meat."

I woke up to find her wheeling her family TV up to the couch. I was so sick that everything on TV was scary, slow like underwater and full of weird importance like creepy dreams. Bossy commercials and Donahue screaming with other adults about grown up stuff I didn't understand. Why was he screaming and ranting? I was terrified. Finally the afternoon movie special came on with typical afternoon movie fanfare. Shell shocked already, I watched too weak to turn away. Until this moment, listening to this clip and reading this movie summary, I thought I had made up it all up. This movie has played in my head for more than 20 years in sick little bizarre loops.

I have loved this blog since it began, but now that it has settled an old score for me, I am hooked for good.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Fatty Jubbo said...

that's a great story, Katya, thank you.

I'm honored I have hooked you.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Katya Oddio said...

Sorry for the long comment. The movie got to me again without even seeing it.

6:36 PM  
Blogger SwaG! said...

I think oddio's story is the best review of this movie.

I was sick as a kid, and I remember seeing this old black and white "Alice in Wonderland" (not the diznee cartoon) with WC Fields in a role. I was feverish and hallucinating, and my parent's thought THAT was okay for me to watch?!?

12:41 PM  

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