Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Kiss of the Tarantula

Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
Critter: Sure looks like Brachypelma smithi to me, the cinematic queen of tarantulas
Size: Large, about hand-sized
Modus Operandi: Looking very creepy, causing heart failure or panicked accidents
How the Menace Emerges: Sent out into the world…for revenge
End Goal: Death, destruction, mayhem and a nice tasty cricket or two

Kiss of the Tarantula is just another installation in the 70s arty-horror cannon- not too good, but not too bad, either. I’m fond of the less splatter-driven parts of this genre, with its feeble attempts at artiness, lack of comeuppance, sympathy for the monster and generally disaffected cynicism. Our monster in this case is a spin off from Carrie without the supernatural mumbo jumbo and Willard. After murdering her spider-hating, adulterous siren of a mother, Susan (Suzanna Ling in her only IMDB entry) grows up to be an odd, reclusive gal with an inordinate fondness for red-legged tarantulas. Still, the world is not kind to kooky girls, and between being harassed by her over 30 year old classmates and molested by her creepy uncle (a murderous, adulterous cop, the lecherous swine!), she really has no choice but to turn to her furry little pals for help.
The highlights of the film, which are too few, are the scenes in which Susan unleashes her creep army on unsuspecting victims in tight spaces.

Nit-picking Science: For the first time, I have no nit-picking. Although there’s no science in the film for me to pick apart, I must comment on their good judgment nonetheless. Rather than pretending that tarantulas are chock full of venom deadly to humans (which of course they aren’t), Kiss of the Tarantulas lets them be instruments of death through their natural inclination to creep us out. Good job, sirs!

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