Movie Review: Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977)

Synopsis: A cargo plane carrying coffee beans from South America crashes in a small, drought-stricken California town. In addition to its cargo and crew, the plane carries a swarm of deadly spiders that quickly escape and begin biting local residents. To make matters worse, the spiders move into a warehouse containing the town's newly-picked orange crop and residents must find a way to kill the arachnids without ruining the oranges and sending the town into financial ruin.

Who's in it? The movie stars Claude Akins, Deborah Winters, Pat Hingle, Howard Hesseman and Charles Frank.

Review: My youngest daughter was invited to a birthday party/sleepover at her friend's house last night and my wife was invited to join the other moms for a while as well. So, since it was just my oldest daughter and me, we ended up watching this movie.

This was the first time I had heard of this film and I wasn't really sure what to expect from it. But, since movies involving bugs usually seem to be extra creepy (because they always make you feel as though something is crawling on you), my expectations were a little higher than they probably would otherwise be. Unfortunately, while the movie had potential, I'm not convinced it lived up to it.

The spiders, as I expected, managed to be kind of creepy, especially when they would pop out of vents or crawl around just out of sight of some of their victims. In fact, at least as we watched the early parts of the film, my daughter was squirming in her seat a bit.

My biggest problem with this movie is, while the spiders had the potential to make it a good horror film, the human cast just didn't do enough to win me over.

Let's put it this way, one of the biggest flaws with many horror films is the victims tend to be kind of stupid, to the point they almost deserve to die. This film, unfortunately, failed to be an exception. First of all, I find it very hard to believe the giant spiders were that hard to see. Maybe one would have been able to sneak around. But, nobody noticed them crawling around in the coffee beans as they were shoveling them into bags? Or, later, walking around town?

The individual response of each towns person also seemed to range from indifferent to just plain stupid. One of the characters, for example, upon learning the spiders are deadly, decides to try to pick one up (face palm). It was hard to feel sorry for him as a result. The rest of the town seemed to be a little too calm considering what was happening with almost no remorse for those who were dead. 

On top of it, I absolutely hated the ending, which dragged on to the point it was getting to be a little dull. I mean, they found a way to gain an advantage over the spiders (which actually weren't overly difficult to kill to begin with, they are, after all, just bugs) and then picked the slowest and most complicated possible way of killing them rather than simply stomping on them, smashing them with a shovel, etc. That's just not how a horror movie should end.

Final Opinion: The spiders were genuinely creepy. It's just too bad the movie tended to drag things on a bit more than it needed to and ultimately kept it from being quite as good as it could have been.

My Grade: C


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