I was six years old, and not realizing it then, my parents were dead broke. So a form of entertainment was going to the drive-in theater where my parents, sister, and I could enter and watch two movies for a few dollars.
Often, one movie was more family oriented and the other more grown-up-oriented.
The Giant Spider Invasion was one of the grown-up movies.
We’d watch the kid movie then I was supposed to sleep in the car’s back seat. Often, I’d be awake, thinking I was sneaky, watching a grown-up movie without my parents knowing and/or looking at a grown-up movie on one of the other screens … some of them very grown up.
More than 40 years later, I remember watching Giant Spider Invasion for one specific scene. Alan Hale Jr., an actor known for westerns and, more importantly to me, known as the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island, portrayed Sheriff Jones. For a fan of Gilligan’s Island, that was enough for me. But then the unthinkable happened.
I distinctly remember a giant spider coming for Sheriff Jones. He unloads the rounds from his pistol into the spide to no effect. Then…the spider at the Skipper!
I was distraught. And I was terrified. And it affected me for days.
I remember my mom pulling back the covers of my bed to show me there were no spiders under the covers waiting to eat me. Checking under the bed, in the closets, and other dark corners of the room.
The Giant Spider Invasion is definitely a “B movie.” It is family-friendly and has been featured on both Mystery Science Theater and Rifftracks.
It is a harmless enough movie, and I run across it from time to time.
Still, it was the first time I remember being truly terrified by a movie or TV show I was watching. And it has stuck with me for some 48 years later.