RiffTrax rouses and ridicules ‘The Giant Spider Invasion’
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies … RiffTrax Live is back on the big screen, and they’ve got a king-sized cinematic catastrophe at their mercy.
That would be Wisconsin filmmaker Bill Rebane’s mind-boggling 1975 science-fiction fiasco The Giant Spider Invasion, in which a stray meteorite crashes in a remote Wisconsin burg, spawning a spate of spiders that soon wreak havoc on the environs – and its inhabitants. Some of the spiders look like tarantulas from Earth (because they are), others appear to be sock puppets (because they are), and the big one – the “Giant Spider” of the title – was constructed atop a Volkswagen Beetle. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.
The Fathom Events presentation of Rifftrax Live: The Giant Spider Invasion will be screened Thursday, with an encore screening next Tuesday, at more than 650 theaters nationwide, including three in the Triad: The Grand 12 – Four Seasons Station (2700 Vanstory St.) and Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) in Greensboro, and the Grand 18 Theatre (5601 University Parkway) in Winston-Salem.
For 10 years, “RiffTrax Live” has been roasting the bad, the worse, and the ugly during its series of big-screen presentations. Film lives forever – whether it deserves to or not – and the RiffTrax team has selected some of the biggest, boldest, baddest cinematic atrocities in irreverent and irrepressible fashion. The Giant Spider Invasion certainly fits the bill, as anyone who’s seen it – and that includes yours truly – can attest.
The film’s human contingent includes such (ahem) seasoned veterans as Steve Brodie, who appeared with Elvis Presley in 1961’s Blue Hawaii and later appeared in 1981’s Frankenstein Island, and Barbara Hale (erstwhile Della Street on Perry Mason) as the obligatory scientists investigating this fearful phenomenon, Alan Hale (former “Skipper” on Gilligan’s Island) as the local sheriff, noted Hollywood dialect coach Robert Easton (who co-wrote the screenplay with Richard L. Huff), Leslie Parrish (The Manchurian Candidate) as Easton’s boozy wife, and Bill Williams (Hale’s real-life husband).
The film received a theatrical release from Group 1 Films and wound up in the Top 50 grossing films of 1975, and is in development as a stage musical. Again, you can’t make this stuff up.
Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy – those beloved, battle-scarred veterans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K) – are back on the big screen, prepared to do battle with the extra-terrestrial idiocy of The Giant Spider Invasion, armed with an array of wisecracks, witticisms, quips, and puns.
During its small-screen run, not only did MST3K amass a worldwide following – becoming a cult phenomenon in its own right – but also drew attention to scores of movies best forgotten and in some cases revived interest in them as potential cult classics. During its lengthy run, the series earned two Emmy nominations (both times for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program), and in 1993 received the prestigious Peabody Award.
With the series canceled in 1999 after 197 episodes, and following a 1995 feature film, the series continues to live on in syndication and on home video – as well as in the hearts and minds of its fervent fans worldwide.
This is not RiffTrax’s first go-’round with The Giant Spider Invasion, as it previously took its (deserved) lumps in a 1997 segment of MST3K.
This is only the latest in a long, illustrious line of “RiffTrax Live” screening events since first partnering with Fathom Events. Previous offerings have included Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), the indescribable Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003), Samurai Cop (1991), Krull (1983), Syfy’s campy Sharknado extravaganzas, and more. So long as there are bad movies to be ridiculed and mocked, there’s no end in sight! Rest assured, “RiffTrax Live” will be back.
Want to go?
RiffTrax Live: The Giant Spider Invasion will be screened 8 p.m. Thursday, with an encore screening 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20. Tickets at the Grand 12 – Four Seasons Station and the Grand 18 Theatre are $13.34 (both days, both screenings) and tickets at Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 are $12.50 (both days, both screenings). For advance tickets or more information, you can visit the official Fathom Events website. Visit the official RiffTrax website for more information.