My good friend and the type of artist that comes along once in a generation, Guy Budziak, once posted a link on Facebook that introduced me to a spider in Sir Lanka that is as big as a typical human face. A real life example of the title creatures of a movie making its TV debut on the SyFy Channel in April 2014: “Big Ass Spider.” SyFy has already been home to a number of movies featuring a giant spider invasion. As have a number of other networks going way back in TV history.
When I think of giant spiders, my mind immediately turns to “Gilligan’s Island.” The episode was actually about a pigeon. In fact, the episode is titled “The Pigeon.” A pigeon the castaways honestly thought was going to help them be rescued from the island. You can learn a lot of valuable information from TV shows. For instance, “Gilligan’s Island” teaches us that the spider’s natural enemy is the pigeon. And you know this bit of questionable scientific knowledge is beyond reproach because the tiny little messenger pigeon is the only thing that saves the castaways from certain death at the eight hands of a black spider the size of a contemporary Buick.
The giant spider that pops up on “The Simpsons” does not show up in a Treehouse of Horror Halloween special, interestingly. In one of the all-time great episodes of the show–an episode that routinely shows up on lists of the ten best episodes of “The Simpsons” ever–Homer attempts to sneak his way out of the power plant and to the Duff Brewery using a secret treasure map. “Duffless” is an episode that sends Homer Simpson deep into the bowels of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant where at one point he comes up against a giant spider. The map indicates an easy way to get past this horrific arachnoid obstruction: “To remove the spider’s curse, simply quote a Bible verse.” Unable to get past “Thou shalt not…” Homer instead gets past the giant spider by throwing a rock at it.
“Mystery Science Theater 3000”
Giant spiders were a stock-in-trade on MST3K. I can think of three movies right off the bat that were riffed to pieces on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” that feature giant spiders, including one that makes no bones about its content: “The Giant Spider Invasion.” When you include “Earth vs. The Spider” and “The Horrors of Spider Island” you have the makings of a trilogy of terror marathon about giant spiders any time you desire. Oh, I almost forget, there’s also a big spider in “Cave Dwellers.” Probably some big spiders in other MST3K movies that I can’t reven recall at the moment.
Stephen King’s “IT”
Pennywise the Clown is pure evil and one of the most frightening things to ever appear on American network TV. But did you know that the evil that arises from beneath the earth to terrorize the citizens of Derry, New Hampshire every thirty years or so does not really look like Tim Curry in malevolent clown makeup? I mean, “IT” does take on the appearance of Pennywise the Clown and so “IT” does look like Tim Curry. But in realty that appearance is spectral at best; consider Pennywise to be an example of mass hypnosis. “IT” doesn’t really look like a spider either. But since the primal part of the human brain has developed to create a collective fear or, at the very least, disgust of spiders, the evil entity that calls Derry home also manifests itself to appear as a spider take advantage of that widespread human fear. And what is scarier than a spider? A giant spider, of course.