With genre-defining titles such as It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man to his credit, Jack Arnold is hailed as a key director of 1950s science-fiction films. One of Arnold's lesser-known sci-fi efforts is his entry in the "giant monster on the loose" subgenre, Tarantula. In the film, a well meaning team of scientists, concerned about a diminishing food supply as the world's population explodes, test an experimental radioactive growth serum with horrific results -- need we mention that a certain arachnid grows to gargantuan proportions and then wreaks havoc on the populace? Arnold's taut direction keeps the movie barreling along, ensuring that Tarantula towers over similar entries from the era. Don't blink or you'll miss the literal giant guinea pig in the laboratory, and an incredibly young napalm-packing Clint Eastwood leading an attack on the eight-legged adversary. Few films go better with a cold beer than Tarantula, which screens at 8 p.m. this evening at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; www.webster.edu/filmseries), as part of Webster University's Strange Brew Film Series. Admission is $4, or 50 cents per leg.
Wed., July 6, 2011