In a dilapidated rural mansion, the last generation of the degenerate, inbred Merrye family lives with the inherited curse of a disease that causes them to mentally regress from the age of 10 or so on as they physically develop. The family chauffeur looks out for them and covers up their indiscretions. Trouble comes when greedy distant relatives and their lawyer arrive to dispossess the family of its home.
Lon Chaney Jr.....Bruno, The Chauffeur
Carol Ohmart....Emily Howe
Quinn K. Redeker....Peter Howe
"Spider Baby is an almost perfect blend of black comedy and horror. The movie is just so bizarre that it must be seen to be believed.
The basic story: Lon Chaney Jr. plays Bruno, the chauffeur and "caretaker" for the Merrye family. The Merrye's suffer from a rare disease that causes each member of the family to slowly degenerate mentally to the point of cannibalism. Chaney is in charge of the last three members of the inbred Merrye family and he understands what fate awaits them should the outside world discover their secret. When some distant relatives show up to take over the estate, madness ensues.
Chaney is fantastic in the role of Bruno. IMO, this may be his best performance outside of his better known Wolf Man character. His comic timing is almost perfect. There is one very emotional scene when Chaney realizes what he must do that is so well played that I almost cried along with him. It's nice to Chaney having so much fun with one of his final roles. It's also nice to see another of my favorites, Mantan Moreland, in one of final performances. Although it's a small part, his character is necessary to set up the madness to come. But the real `stars' of Spider Baby are the children. Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, and Sig Haig are so incredibly bizarre and demented that I really can't say enough about how good and perfectly suited for their roles each is. Terrific performances by three young unknown actors.
There are so many wonderful and freaky scenes that going through all of them would take pages of writing. One of my favorite scenes is the dinner scene. Some really great comedic moments mixed with repulsion over what's going on. I love Chaney's line during the dinner about the full moon. Who said that Scream was so original for being a self-referential horror movie?
There are only two negative things I can say about the movie. One is the performance of Karl Schanzer as Schlocker the lawyer. He just doesn't seem `real'. My second complaint is the amount of time given to the relatives living in the basement. I would have really enjoyed seeing more of them."
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