I don't know that I'd ever read or heard of this oddball horror flick titled Spider Baby (or perhaps Whatever Happened to Spider Baby or The Liver Eaters or Spider Baby - The Maddest Story Ever Told or Cannibal Orgy...you get the picture) until I stumbled across its description on TCM. I saw it was dated 1968 and featured Lon Chaney Jr., and I knew I had to at least take a glimpse so I set it up to record and went on my merry way. I forgot about it, but my DVR did not and when it showed up on the recorded list I gave it a tumble.
The movie was apparently actually shot in 1964, in glorious black and white, but didn't get released until 1968 because of finances. It's pretty clear not much money went into this production. Featuring novice and second-tier actors, that side of the film is sometimes awkward but mostly competent. The set design and the directing are other matters entirely, strictly low rent and downright shabby in places.
|Washburn, Haig, Banner and Chaney|
Mantan Moreland, a famous face from several vintage horror flicks opens the story as a delivery man who meets a grisly end. His scenes clearly seemed to have been shot apart from the rest of the cast as he doesn't interact with them, save by dint of stand ins and editing. Chaney shows up and disposes of Mantan and he's hardly mentioned after. He deserved better and the movie would've been well served to have actually added him to the mix more thoroughly.
The crazy-mixed-up-kids in this story are killers all, with a tendency toward cannibalism. Apparently the members of this family get nuttier as they age, so these kids still are "manageable" so to speak while older members of the clan are hidden away in the bowels of the house and apparently are merely fed and left to fend for their wild selves. The dark-haired girl (Jill Banner) likes to play with knives and the blonde (Beverly Washburn) seems more innocent but seems content to murder also. The boy (Sid Haig) who seems to be a cross between Uncle Fester and Pugsley is on the verge of getting out of hand and joining his relatives in the basement.
|Schanzer and Ohmart|
All in all Spider Baby is just too poorly done and while it doesn't mind laughing at itself, I find it not terribly funny. I though like the opening titles of the movie which are great cartoons. You can get a sense of that here at this website dedicated to the movie which is actually more entertaining than the movie itself.