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Tarantula (1955)

In the small Arizona town of Desert Rock, Dr Matt Hastings (John Agar) is bewildered by the death of scientist Eric Jacobs from an intense case of “acromegalia” (uncontrolled bone growth).

He teams up with research assistant “Steve” (short for Stephanie) Clayton (Mara Corday) and they venture forth to investigate the mystery.

It transpires that Stephanie’s biochemist boss Professor Gerald Deemer (Leo G Carroll) has been working on a formula that he hopes will solve the problem of world hunger. “There are 2 billion people in the world today. In 1975 there’ll be 3 billion. In the year 2000, there’ll be 3,625,000,000. The world may not be able to produce enough food to feed all these people. Now perhaps you’ll understand what an inexpensive nutrient will mean.”

He is experimenting with nutrients that cause gigantism in animals but unanticipated acromegaly in human beings. He has, in fact, been accidentally injected with the serum himself and is starting to mutate into a tragic Quasimodo-esque character.

Meanwhile, a Tarantula that was also injected with the serum has escaped . . .

Tarantula was released in 1955 and directed by Jack Arnold from a screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Robert M Fresco. It’s a decent and solid foray by Universal into the giant animal/insect runs amok genre.

Look out for a very early appearance here by Clint Eastwood as an air force pilot.

Dr Matt Hastings
John Agar
Stephanie ‘Steve’ Clayton
Mara Corday
Prof. Gerald Deemer
Leo G. Carroll
Sheriff Jack Andrews
Nestor Paiva
Joe Burch
Ross Elliott
Lt. John Nolan
Edwin Rand
Townsend
Raymond Bailey
Josh
Hank Patterson
Barney Russell
Bert Holland
Andy Andersen
Steve Darrell

Director
Jack Arnold