Some movies age well and some movies don’t. It’s just how things end up and there isn’t much you can do about it. Sometimes a film’s legacy is kept alive by fondly remembering scenes, and seeing old clips show up in special features, etc. Tarantula is one such movie that most people fondly remember due to a big giant tarantula crawling across the screen while victims react in terror as the creature slowly consumes them. Unfortunately, if you sit down with the movie nowadays, you can see that it hardly contains the giant spider, and instead focuses on a doctor trying to pick up a hot lady scientist, and attempting to figure out what a shady doctor is hiding when it comes to random, mutilated bodies that keep showing up. Oh there is a spider in here somewhere, it just doesn’t come into focus until the last act and before you know it, Clint Eastwood is burning your town to the ground, and the townsfolk are staring in horror at the carnage.
Tarantula isn’t a bad film, it’s just a film that takes too long to get to what viewers of the movie want the most. The titular spider meanders onto the screen in the latter half of the film, and although the special effects are dated today (check out that nasty matte crop issue), it still has a certain charm that will have you smiling. It’s just a shame that the film couldn’t have done more with the spider instead of wasting the scant 80-minute runtime on a blase love story and cliche mad scientist plot.
Scream Factory has released Tarantula on Blu-ray, which boasts a new 2K scan from the original film elements. The film was originally released on Blu-ray from Koch Media and it’s evident from comparison screengrabs that Scream’s release trumps the Koch in all aspects. The grain is more even and the nighttime scenes are clearer and you are not losing any detail. Scream Factory’s release is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, whereas the Koch Media was presented in 1.78:1 and 1.33:1 ratio. According to IMDb, the original presentation was 1.85:1. Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, and as I’ve said numerous times before, I didn’t notice any glaring issues coming through my speakers, as I was able to hear the dialogue clearly and the weird sound of the tarantula piped through nice and loud. (Thanks to caps-a-holic for the screen comparisons.)
Extra features on the Blu-ray are a bit on the light side, with an audio commentary from Film Historians Tom Weaver, Dr. Robert J. Kiss, and David Schecter, a Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery, and finally a poster and lobby card gallery. The new audio commentary is certainly the highlight in regards to features.
Tarantula was released in 1955, which means you have to have the right mindset when you are judging the film. However, I think it’s fairly safe to say that when your movie’s title screams the monster’s name out loud, you expect the film will have plenty of said monster roaming and killing. Sadly, it’s only near the end of the film that we get anything worth seeing and before you know it, the film is over. Nevertheless, Scream Factory has released a solid Blu-ray that features great video, and a nice newly-recorded audio commentary.