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 Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09) 
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Corrie Class Trip is a project where we rotate the selection of a title for group watches on an appointed day/date to then discuss [previous iterations linked below]. We welcome all to participate and share their thoughts and feelings! The tenth viewing for Round 3 is scheduled for Saturday, June 9th. Please post about the film itself and your experience with it in this thread, and any off-topic posts about the series itself in the Class Trip Discussion Thread.

Thanks and enjoy!!!

xoxo,
your classmates

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Saturday, June 9th, 2018


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Spider-Baby (Jack Hill, 1967)


IMDb wrote:
Weird, funny, brutal, and twisted, three children of the Merrye family live under the care and protection of their chauffeur, Bruno, played by Lon Chaney, Jr.



Past Trips, Junior Year:

#1 - La maternelle (1933, Jean Benoît-Lévy & Marie Epstein, France) | wigwam
#2 - Time and Winds (2006, Reha Erdem, Turkey) | Oxnard Montalvo
#3 - Clean, Shaven (1993, Lodge Kerrigan, USA) | Popcorn Reviews
#4 - Diabeł (1972, Andrzej Żuławski, Poland) | Oxnard Montalvo
#5 - Black Friday (2004, Anurag Kashyap, India) | Rock
#6 - Schizopolis (1996, Steven Soderbergh, USA) | Slentert
#7 - Hearts and Minds (1974, Peter Davis, USA) | Popcorn Reviews
#8 - Xtro (1982, Harry Bromley Davenport, UK) | crumbsroom
#9 - The House (1997, Šarūnas Bartas, France) | Oxnard Montalvo

Past Trips, Sophomore Year:

#1 - The Worthless (1982, Mika Kaurismäki, Finland) | snapper
#2 - Shopping for Fangs (1997, Quentin Lee and Justin Lin, USA) | takeshi
#3 - The Heart of the Wise Lives in the House of Sorrow (2009, Marin Malešević, Serbia) | Shieldmaiden
#4 - The Forbidden Quest (1993, Peter Delpeut, Netherlands) | kopello
#5 - São Bernardo (1972, Leon Hirszman, Brazil) | Bandy Greensacks
#6 - Evdokia (1971, Alexis Damianos, Greece) | Epistemophobia
#7 - The Ball at the Anjō House (1947, Kōzaburō Yoshimura, Japan) | snapper
#8 - Sérail (1976, Eduardo de Gregorio, France) | takeshi
#9 - Passport for a Corpse (1962, Mario Gariazzo, Italy) | JediMoonShyne
#10 - Aksuat (1997, Serik Aprimov, Kazakhstan) | Shieldmaiden
#11 - Dangerously Excited (2011, Koo, South Korea) | wigwam
#12 - Himala (1982, Ishmael Bernal, Philippines) | snapper

Past Trips, Freshman Year:

#1 - Distant Journey (1949, Alfréd Radok, Czechoslovakia) | snapper
#2 - Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968, Susumu Hani, Japan) | Das
#3 - The Policewoman (2003, Joaquim Sapinho, Portugal) | charulata
#4 - Freeze, Die, Come to Life! (1989, Vitali Kanevsky, USSR) | Bandy Greensacks
#5 - The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974, Francesco Barilli, Italy) | Trip
#6 - Weddings and Babies (1958, Morris Engel, USA) | snapper
#7 - The Man with Three Coffins (1987, Lee Jang-ho, South Korea) | Notes from Underground
#8 - Malina (1991, Werner Schroeter, Germany) | Shieldmaiden
#9 - Bad Luck (1960, Andrzej Munk, Poland) | B-Side
#10 - The Girl with the Suitcase (1961, Valerio Zurlini, Italy) | JediMoonShyne
#11 - The Engagement of Anna (1972, Pantelis Voulgaris, Greece) | BandyGreensacks
#12 - Our Neighbor, Miss Yae (1934. Yasujirō Shimazu, Japan) | snapper


Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:17 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

schwing


Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Now that I'm done with high school, I should have more time to watch it this weekend.

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Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:06 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

I guess I can watch it one more time.


Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:23 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

I'll watch it for the first time. :)

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Isle of Dogs ▪ Eika Katappa ▪ Johnny Guitar ▪ The Devils ▪ Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told ▪ Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness ▪ The Thing ▪ Madame X: An Absolute Ruler ▪ American Ultra

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Bookshelf


Sun Jun 03, 2018 2:28 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Shieldmaiden wrote:
I'll watch it for the first time. :)

It's a wonderfully quirky little creeper.

Spider Baby herself, Jill Banner, is a tragic story. Her career wasn't helped by this film sitting on the shelf for years before release, and she only made a handful of other appearances before landing in an abusive on-and-off relationship with Marlon Brando (who urged her to retire) before being killed in a car accident at 35, reportedly while working on a script for him. This film shows her talent which unfortunately would largely go unrealized.


Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:48 am
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Post Re: Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

This hits that horror comedy sweet spot thanks to its self awareness ("Wolfman fan, Ann" always gets a chuckle out of me) and southern gothic atmosphere. I also quite liked most of the performances (Banner, Washburn and Chaney are the highlights, but Schanzer is the only one I found weak). With this viewing I also thought a bit of The Eyes of My Mother, and how both movies explore (with varying degrees of seriousness and depth) how the characters lack a real understanding of their murderous actions because of their conditions and upbringing.

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Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:02 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

I liked it a lot. Funny, yet still disturbing at times. It plays a bit like the crazier, more adult version of The Addams Family.
Great performances too, especially of the two young girls.


Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:20 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

This is one of my favorites, so this was my millionth viewing. I've got the dinner scene practically memorized at this point. ("Come on Schlocker, don't hog the stuff!" --Uncle Peter, referring to the bowl of possibly-poisonous mushrooms)

*As a horror-comedy it does the trick, but it's got more heart than you'd expect and that's what makes it so re-watchable for me. The scene where Bruno admits that it's almost time for the kids to "join Uncle Ned" manages to pull on the heartstrings even though it's surrounded by such otherwise insane goings-on.

*The scene where Virginia plays spider with Uncle Peter is very effective in its uncomfortably-erotic way.

*While Banner gets a lot of (deserved) credit, I also like Washburn's performance, even if she's playing it broader than Banner. ("We like you, pretty lady").

*Speaking as a Universal Horror junkie who admits that Lon Jr is my least favorite of the classic horror guys, it's nice to see him give a great performance at this stage in his career.

*I think Merrye Syndrome is an interesting premise on its own and would work well in a straight horror story.

Granted, I am the absolute target audience for this one so I'm biased somewhat. I've tried to share it with friends that couldn't wait for it to be over. (I need cooler friends.) So yeah, not for everybody but definitely one of the good ones if this is your thing. I would also recommend A Bucket of Blood to anyone that enjoyed Spider Baby. It's got a lot in common with Little Shop of Horrors, but I don't see it mentioned very often. It's been a few years since I've watched it in fact, so maybe that'll be tonight's selection.

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Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:48 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oh, this was fun! Lon Chaney Jr. is terrific, and the "kids" are even better. It finds just the right note between horror and silliness and stays on key. No one's mentioned Sid Haig yet, so I will: he's weirdly lovable as a creepy over-sized toddler.

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Isle of Dogs ▪ Eika Katappa ▪ Johnny Guitar ▪ The Devils ▪ Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told ▪ Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness ▪ The Thing ▪ Madame X: An Absolute Ruler ▪ American Ultra

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Bookshelf


Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:39 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

I think I'm still having trouble digging into these sort of B-movies and enjoying them for their low-rent charms. this happened with Xtro as well.

maybe these aren't the kind of movies one should enjoy alone. I could imagine having a lot more fun seeing this at a drive-in with a bunch of my screw-up, draft-dodging friends before cruising around the rest of the night looking for a new score (grass, booze, women, whatever you name it).


Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
my screw-up, draft-dodging friends
You must be older than you look, haha.

But, seriously, I had this same issue when I started posting here. I remember having to consciously adjust to the styles of the Fassbinders, Zulawskis and De Palmas that everyone recommended. Of course, they are great films (some of the best), but I mention them because that sort of adjustment was a good exercise that helped me later when I started to watch the Giallos everyone was talking about. I think those are the films that taught me to treat style/budget/genre as filters worth at least a try. Even so, there are films where I simply can't get on the right wavelength, and I'm fine with that!

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Isle of Dogs ▪ Eika Katappa ▪ Johnny Guitar ▪ The Devils ▪ Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told ▪ Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness ▪ The Thing ▪ Madame X: An Absolute Ruler ▪ American Ultra

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Bookshelf


Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:01 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

I liked this one quite a bit, because despite the darker/tragic content which falls in the latter portion of the film, it's able to remain quite funny at times (that dinner scene had a pleasant flow of awkwardness) with a lot of heart. I also liked the gothic atmosphere as that added to the great blend of emotions this film delivered. Finally, I also agree with everyone else that the acting was really good. I didn't have any issues with a particular actor.

8/10

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Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:19 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

One more thing: I love that POV shot of the car swerving all over the road, followed by the shot of the aunt and uncle in the car. That edit makes for one of my favorite sight gags.

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Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:50 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Shieldmaiden wrote:
You must be older than you look, haha.


oh no, I ain't that old. I just meant if hypothetically I was in my 20's in the 60's.

still, gotta stick it to the squares out there thinkin' The Addams Family is what passes for a good time....


Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:54 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
oh no, I ain't that old
And, I can't see how old you look. It was a joke.

Captain Terror wrote:
I love that POV shot of the car swerving all over the road, followed by the shot of the aunt and uncle in the car. That edit makes for one of my favorite sight gags.
Same. :D

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Isle of Dogs ▪ Eika Katappa ▪ Johnny Guitar ▪ The Devils ▪ Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told ▪ Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness ▪ The Thing ▪ Madame X: An Absolute Ruler ▪ American Ultra

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Bookshelf


Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:06 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

a-whoops


Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:02 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Ox, I think you need to get a haircut first of all, get off that grass, and start thinking seriously about plastics.


Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:44 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

hey guys, get a load of the man in the grey flannel suit over here.

btw I know this wasn't a long film either, but maybe I would have had more fun with it if they had tightened it up a bit in editing. like not spend 20 minutes with Hitler Mustache as he investigates the manor. but one ought to tailor their expectations for these kinds of movies. I dunno how much better Jack Hill got as he went along.


Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:39 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
btw I know this wasn't a long film either, but maybe I would have had more fun with it if they had tightened it up a bit in editing. like not spend 20 minutes with Hitler Mustache as he investigates the manor.

I'll go along with that. The opening with Mantan Moreland trying to deliver the mail could be tightened up as well.

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:46 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
I dunno how much better Jack Hill got as he went along.

The only other Hill I've seen is Pit Stop, which is pretty good. Has some of the cast members of Spider Baby as well as a practically-teenaged Ellen Burstyn.
EDIT: She was born in 1932?? That means she was pushing 40 in Pit Stop. Wow.

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:55 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Captain Terror wrote:
I'll go along with that. The opening with Mantan Moreland trying to deliver the mail could be tightened up as well.


When you are talking about the benefits of hemming in a film to fit snugly with story structure, you can probably aim this criticism against nearly any low budget, exploitation, art or B film. You undoubtedly could tighten up Night of the Living Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well. But wouldn't that be total heresy? It is either the deliberate or not so deliberate unwillingness of these sorts of movies to make a perfect shape that is what elevates them. There is a sense of joyous anarchy in allowing a movie just to be a movie, and let images just unspool from time to time. Not every camera movement needs to be justified. Not every scene should be required to cut at the peak moment or drama. Let things linger a bit. Allow things to happen on the periphery that those who tend to tightly to craft would never see because they are always looking to crop anything out that doesn't directly apply.

Can films go too far in lacking focus? Absolutely. And should I ever be the one to determine the sane line where it goes too far? Definitely not. But I'm secure in thinking that Spider Baby is not a film that wanders too far off course. It's a movie that's always getting to its point, and you can always tell it is getting there, just don't hurry it. It'll kill the magic.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:02 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
I dunno how much better Jack Hill got as he went along.

I don't think he did. He's best known for his 70s exploitation films, the best being with Pam Grier (Coffy, Foxy Brown), but nothing as striking or unique as Spider Baby.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:11 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

crumbsroom wrote:

When you are talking about the benefits of hemming in a film to fit snugly with story structure, you can probably aim this criticism against nearly any low budget, exploitation, art or B film. You undoubtedly could tighten up Night of the Living Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well. But wouldn't that be total heresy? It is either the deliberate or not so deliberate unwillingness of these sorts of movies to make a perfect shape that is what elevates them. There is a sense of joyous anarchy in allowing a movie just to be a movie, and let images just unspool from time to time. Not every camera movement needs to be justified. Not every scene should be required to cut at the peak moment or drama. Let things linger a bit. Allow things to happen on the periphery that those who tend to tightly to craft would never see because they are always looking to crop anything out that doesn't directly apply.

Can films go too far in lacking focus? Absolutely. And should I ever be the one to determine the sane line where it goes too far? Definitely not. But I'm secure in thinking that Spider Baby is not a film that wanders too far off course. It's a movie that's always getting to its point, and you can always tell it is getting there, just don't hurry it. It'll kill the magic.

I think with those other films you cite, it's easy to see how that initial looseness contributes to their effectiveness as horror films as they contrast with the tightness of the later parts. (We also have the benefit of comparing them to their tighter but inferior remakes. ) Spider-Baby, as a movie that emphasizes it's goofy comedic qualities, doesn't translate its weird rhythms into as direct results and has a less obvious sense of atmosphere, so I can see why Oxnard didn't gel to it as much as some of us did.

Also, I suspect he is not a Wolfman fan (Ann).

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:32 am
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Rock wrote:
I think with those other films you cite, it's easy to see how that initial looseness contributes to their effectiveness as horror films as they contrast with the tightness of the later parts. (We also have the benefit of comparing them to their tighter but inferior remakes. ) Spider-Baby, as a movie that emphasizes it's goofy comedic qualities, doesn't translate its weird rhythms into as direct results and has a less obvious sense of atmosphere, so I can see why Oxnard didn't gel to it as much as some of us did.

Also, I suspect he is not a Wolfman fan (Ann).


I don't know if I would go so far to ever call the later scenes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre as being tight. The chase scene in the dark woods goes on endlessly, with much of those moments almost completely black with only screaming and the sound of a chainsaw to be heard. The dinner table scene also becomes pretty deliberately repetitive. Of course, the endlessness of the chase is what makes it's horror overwhelming, and the repititions at the dinner table are equally horrific in making the moment feel inescapable and like a purgatory of ghouls taunting and poking at this poor girl until the end of time.

Regardless of this, I get that your argument is that these things make the film work better than Spider Baby in a cinematic sense. They absolutely do. It is a far superior film. It uses its diversions more functionally. But if one is coming to TCM looking for a lean beast of a movie, not particularly caring about the more existential horrors of this night, but simply wanting the movie to hit the big beats of a chase scene, many would argue these should be trimmed. And it is a legitimate argument from that school of thought. It's just not one that I like, and one that would cause an inertia in film if everyone adopted it.

As for Spider Baby it may not have thematic or plot oriented excuses for its flabbier scenes, but my point is more on the philosophy of B movie making, or exploitation films. About the actual thrill of occasionally just allowing a movie to happen, allow it to create unfettered, unhurried, unmotivated images and scenes for the simple joy of watching a film be discovered through the act of making it. While they maybe can't be rationally excused or critically examined scene by scene, they create a feel in the film that would be lost if the MO of the directors and editors was to make the film move as functionally as possible. Functionality is not what I am looking for in such films (at least not at the expense of the ragged charms of such movies). Those ragged charms are often one of the primary reasons I am seeking out these movies. There is an honesty in their errors


Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:02 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

clearly I have a lot to learn about appreciating B-movies that aren't on the canon (i.e. not Romero, Hooper, etc).


Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:04 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
clearly I have a lot to learn about appreciating B-movies that aren't on the canon (i.e. not Romero, Hooper, etc).


It's only worth appreciating if it's your thing. If you have some weird compulsion to keep watching these crappy movies, then sure, you maybe have something to learn. But it's not like being a fan of these is something to strive towards. It's probably something to strive against.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:30 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

crumbsroom wrote:
I'm secure in thinking that Spider Baby is not a film that wanders too far off course. It's a movie that's always getting to its point, and you can always tell it is getting there, just don't hurry it. It'll kill the magic.

Preaching to the choir, chief!
I was merely conceding to Signor Montalvo that the draggy bits only make things more difficult for those who are not on board with this type of thing. The DVD I own is actually an extended cut, so it's possible the version I watch is even flabbier than the one Ox saw. But you're right- in the grand scheme of things Spider Baby is downright zippy compared to others.

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:28 pm
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Post Re: Corrie Class Trip 3.0 #10: Spider-Baby (Sat 06/09)

my version was 84 minutes. I think that's the full cut.


Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:37 am
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