Release Date: December 14, 1955
Starring: Leo G. Carroll as Prof. Gerald Deemer
John Agar as Dr. Matt Hastings
Mara Corday as Stephanie Clayton
Director: Jack Arnold
Producer: William Alland
Writers: Robert M. Fresco, Martin Berkeley
Story by: Ray Bradbury
Music: Herman Stein
Cinematography: George Robinson
Editor: William Morgan
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Time: BW 81 mins.
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Tarantula was filmed in and around rock formations of Dead Man's Point inLucerne Valley, California. This location was used frequently for early westerns. Clint Eastwood has a brief (and uncredited) appearance as a jet squandron leader
The plot concerns a biological researcher, Professor Gerald Deemer, who is trying to prevent the food shortages which will result from the world's expanding population. With the help of atomic science, he invents a special nutrient on which animals can live exclusively, but which causes them to grow to many times their normal size. In his laboratory, he houses several oversized rodents and, inexplicably, a Mexican red rumped tarantula.
When his researchers try the nutrient, they develop runaway acromegaly. One of them is driven mad, half destroys the lab (freeing the animals), and attacks Deemer, injecting him with the solution. The tarantula is one of the creatures freed. As a result, Deemer gradually becomes more and more deformed while the now-gigantic tarantula ravages the countryside. A sympathetic doctor, Matt Hastings, and Deemer's female assistant, Stephanie Clayton, investigate the mystery of the clean-picked animal bones and eight-foot pools of arachnid venom, which the spider leaves behind: it also wrecks the Deemer lab. The spider is eventually destroyed, after several failed attempts, by a napalm attack launched from a jet fighter squadron.
The film's poster, featuring a spider with two eyes instead of the normal eight, and carrying a woman in its fangs, does not represent any actual scene in the film.