KISS OF THE TARANTULA is not a direct sequel to TARANTULA . Not even close. Instead, it’s a WILLARD inspired movie with spiders in place of rats, a female protagonist, and a much lower budget. Shot in Columbus, GA by director Chris Munger, this regional indie production has a few genuinely creepy moments, and has gained itself something of a cult following.
Pretty Susan Bradley has been fascinated with spiders since childhood. She lives with her loving father and bitchy mother in a mortuary where Dad plies his trade. Mom is dallying with her cop brother-in-law, Susan’s Uncle Walter, and overhears them plotting Dad’s demise. The precocious kid then sics her pet tarantula on arachnaphobe Mom, resulting in a massive heart attack.
Soon Susan’s all grown up, yet shunned by the local kids for her unhealthy obsession with eight-legged pets. Dad’s still supportive, but Uncle Walter has developed an unhealthy obsession of his own – with Susan! Some frat boys show up while Dad’s out of town, terrorizing Susan and killing one of her crawling friends, which sets in motion Susan’s revenge, beginning at a drive-in where two of the boys and their dates (watching a DIRTY HARRY double feature!) find out what it’s like to be trapped in a VW Beetle Bug with an army of arachnids!
There’s lots of screaming in fear and some truly chilling scenes, like the guy trapped in an air duct with the hairy little critters, but they’re few and far between. Most creepy of all is Uncle Walter, a perv if there ever was one, who gets his comeuppance in a totally novel and deliciously bizarre way! The eerie score by Phillan Bishop aids in making the film seem scarier than it really is. The performances range from adequate to good, especially Suzanna Ling as slightly weird Susan and Eric Mason (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM) as Uncle Creepo. KISS OF THE TARANTULA isn’t completely successful, but it’s a fun way to pass the time on a dark Halloween night.