The members of the Merrye-family are suffering from that incredibly
rare Merrye-syndrome (named after the family because only the
Merryes suffer from that syndrome to begin with), which causes their
mental faculties to deteriorate with progressing age, in other words they
are retreating to an infantile state of mind, but since they have the
bodies of adults, this means they are highly dangerous.
So Uncle Ned and Aunt Martha have to be locked away in the cellar for
good, Ralph (Sid Haig), the oldest of the siblings, is little more than a
drooling and possibly danerous imbecile, Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) is
quite simply a psycho in a sheep's skin, while Virginia (Jill Banner)
likes nothing better than to play spider with unsuspecting victims
(including Mantan Moreland turning in a fun performance as messenger) -
which means she lures them into a trap than cuts them up. It is only up to
their driver Bruno (Lon Chaney jr), who shows some honest love for the
kids, that they don't get copmpletely out of control.
Then though, normalcy enters the bizarre world of the Merryes when
their relatives Peter (Quinn K. Redeker) and Emily (Carol Ohmart) and
social workers Schlocker (Karl Schanzer) and Anne Morris (Mary Mitchel)
pay them a visit and even try to work out details for an adoption - and
here's where things get complicated ... and deadly ...
This synopsis does not do justice to Spider Baby, nor, I guess,
will any synopsis, because it cannot even begin to give you a feeling how
bizarre the film is. To give you a feeling you have to picture two
innocent looking girls (Jill Banner, Beverly Washburn) who like to slice
up people, love spiders and occasionally eat spiders, Sid Haig as a bald
and creepy idiot, and Lon Chaney jr as a caring father figure who reacts
to any murder the kids commit with nothing more than a mild scolding. Add
to that Karl Schanzer in a completely sleazy and unlikeable role, Mantan
Moreland doing his thing that seems to be as fresh as it was back in the
1930's, and spiders, pretty much anywhere, and you get a rough idea about
the film. And then there's Jack Hill's direction: Truth to be told, Hill
is not the most imaginative of directors, but in this film he shows how he
can milk a miniscule budget and make something exciting out of it.