Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told (1967)
February 9, 2024 1:05 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Chauffeur Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.) looks after three strange siblings at their family estate. Ralph (Sid Haig), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) all suffer from an inherited condition: a genetic disorder that causes a reversal in mental age and results in a crazed, childlike disposition. Because of his affection for the family, Bruno covers up the siblings' bizarre behavior and crimes. But, when relatives arrive at the family estate, the truth is bound to come out.

Written and directed by Jack Hill. Produced by Paul Monka, Gil Lasky for American General Pictures. Cinematography by Alfred Taylor. Edited by Elliot Fayad. Music by Ronald Stein.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2013.

94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Tubi and Amazon Prime, among others. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Very odd (but funny) 60's indie horror comedy that sort of paves the route from Psycho up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Young Sid Haig, too!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:06 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]

Alright this looks delightful - I am going to have to watch.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 3:30 PM on February 9

True story: I met Sig Haig at my local comic shop in Fresno (he's Fresno-born). He was was very nice and signed my DVD of Spider Baby.
posted by mrphancy at 5:15 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

I adore this weird little movie. It's aware of Psycho for sure, but I'd pin its cinematic ancestors as The Old Dark House and the million and one Universal Monsters and their comedic offshoots; it has that clunky-but-charming cardboard cutout spookiness, fake cobwebs, and ladies in darkened corridors wearing wispy nightgowns. But there's also just a bit of a nasty streak with its unsavory themes of genetically inherited madness and some implied assault, I like the connection you made to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. There's a through line from Sid Haig to Michael Berryman in The Hills Have Eyes as well.

Fun Fact: I went on a carnivorous plant kick during the pandemic and named a sundew after Virginia Merrye and her spidery ways. It's since multiplied and they are all now collectively known as the Virginias.
posted by hilatron at 5:19 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]

One of my favourite films, without qualifications. Opened the door to a great love of Jack Hill's oddball Ĺ“uvre.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:38 AM on February 10

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