Sunday, 26 January 2014

Top Ten Discs of 2013: Number 5. Spider Baby. Arrow Video

Aka "The Maddest Story Ever Told", 'Spider Baby' was Jack Hill's first solo feature, and concerns a trio of siblings who suffer from 'Merrye Syndrome'a condition that causes them to mentally regress backwards.Lon Chaney Jr gave his last memorable performance here as their guardian Bruno, and Sid Haig and Carol Ohmart also star in a film that gets weirder and more damnably entertaining with every passing minute.
The Blu-ray transfer is exemplary, with a nice line of grain evident and impressive depth and contrast.
There's infinite replay value to be had here, and Hill's macabre masterpiece is honoured by the comprehensive extras which are as follows:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the main feature, available in the UK for the very first time.
- High Definition transfer of the feature approved by director Jack Hill.
- English SDH subtitles for deaf and hearing impaired.
- Audio commentary featuring Jack Hill and star Sid Haig.
- Panel discussion from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences “FILM-TO-FILM” Festival, recorded September 2012, featuring Jack Hill and stars Quinn K. Redeker and Beverly Washburn.
- “The Hatching of Spider Baby” – Interviews with Jack Hill, Sid Haig, star Mary Mitchel, fan Joe Dante and more on the making of the film.
- “Spider Stravinsky: The Cinema Sounds of Ronald Stein” – The composer of ‘The Terror’ and ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Woman’ among others is remembered by Harlene Stein, Jack Hill, American Cinematheque’s Chris D. and others.
- “The Merrye House Revisited” – Jack Hill revisits the original house that was used as the main location in the film.
- Alternate opening title sequence.
- Extended scene.
- Original Trailer.
- Gallery of behind-the-scenes images.
- The Host (1960) – Jack Hill’s early short film featuring Sid Haig in his first starring role.
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham ‘Evil Dead’ Humpreys.
- Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by artist and writer Stephen R. Bissette, and an extensive article re-printed from FilmFax: The Magazine of Unusual Film and Television featuring interviews with the cast and crew, illustrated with original stills and artwork.

Highly recommended.

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