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Spider Baby Review

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A caretaker devotes himself to three demented adults after their father's death.

★★★★

Shot in just 12 days on a threadbare-shoelace budget, Spider Baby boasts Lon Chaney's last sober performance, as Bruno, the guardian and faithful servant of the Merrye family. His charges suffer from a peculiar affliction, known no less as Merrye Syndrome, when they reach the age of ten, they start regressing to a primitive, pre-human cannibalistic state.

There's an aunt and uncle trapped in the cellar who are clearly already there, and three children; Virginia, Elizabeth and Ralph, who are well on their way to joining them. Virginia (Banner) likes to pretend she's a spider, trapping and eating insects. And when two distant cousins show up in an attempt to claim the suspected Merrye fortune, you know it's going to be a long and bumpy night.

The debut from the man who went on to make such acknowledged classics as Switchblade Sisters and Foxy Brown is a decidedly offbeat affair. All the genre staples are there as the selected victims meet their fate, but what's added is an almost surreal sense of humour that elevates the movie to a different plane. Chancy, for once allowed to play comedy, is actually very good, while Qumn Redeker as the ultra stiff cousin is hilarious.

Also known as The Liver Eaters (although no livers are eaten — only a rabbit that may have been a cat) and Cannibal Orgy (though there are no orgies), the long-delayed Spider Baby is definitely one to file under weird and wonderful.