J’s review published on Letterboxd:
Primarily a bog-standard sci-fi horror, "Tarantula" makes a bland story web of a science experiment gone wrong, failing to trap suspenseful excitement beyond its scary synopsis. A professor conducts scientific trials, which carry a potential of solving the forthcoming global food crisis (spoiler alert: it is already happening). What a dream it would be if humans can inoculate themselves with (healthy?) nutrients instead, right? Say goodbye to tedious weekly visits to the supermarket, where you spend long minutes in several aisles, hopelessly deciding what food to cook for the week. Just drop by your nearest chemist. Ask for NutriVax®. (The film clearly does not take into account the cost of mass production nor how big corporations—and the government—will take advantage of such an invention.) Anyway, animals are injected with a dark liquid, accelerating their growth, enlarging their sizes. But the ingredient affects humans differently. Faces become unrecognisable, drooped and crumpled, mimicking the rare condition acromegaly. Only, they do not look acromegalic at all. Perhaps, the culprit is the lack of research or the tight budget of the make-up department, but they foreshadow the creature Trog before Trog the film shook the film industry in the 70s. Soon, assistants of the professor drop like flies, a scuffle in the lab causes fire to break out, incinerating the animals into ashes except for the escaped tarantula. In no time, the humongous arthropod gobbles the horses and farmhands of a small and isolated Arizonan town. A country doctor investigates, together with the only female character, named Steve, a biologist who fends some form of microsexism off. But even she shrieks as loud as a siren at the sight of big hairy legs and big beady eyes by her window. (Who would not?) The flaring annihilation of the tarantula predictably follows. Of course, the police fails there, while the heroic arrival of army pilots receive a wild and loud hurrah.
Secondarily, thinking too far and hard, "Tarantula” seems to be a flex of American military strength as well. A bit awkward considering it was released at the very beginning of the Vietnam war, although the US would not be involved in the conflict immediately. Poor dialogues and poor acting crawl on “Tarantula.” One might say the special effects are quite impressive, while the tarantula close-ups are a bit cute. (Aw those pedipalps.) But it also does not ravage the town much. Does not use the idea of a tarantula wasp to its advantage either. (Imagine a tarantula vs tarantula wasp scene.) Lastly, there is a flimsy commentary on the delusional determination in “positively” changing the world even if the method includes destruction. Prop that up with unwavering beliefs, and it is a sure recipe for an induced apocalypse. So eight legs this creepy crawly may have, "Tarantula” the film still cannot stand well enough.
There is a scene where the country doctor smells the tarantula venom from the ground, and puts it on his lips. Probably the most horrifying part of the film (other than hairy tarantula legs covering my whole screen maybe 4x. Eek).
Christ. I don’t know why this is long.