Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Pop Culture, Science Fiction

Celluloid Spiders

spiderInspired by the latest Doctor Who episode, we venture into film and television which have featured our favourite(?) eight-legged arthropods. Of course, arthropods includes crustaceans, so your favourite arthropod might be lobster served with garlic butter or the classic shrimp cocktail, but then you might be interested in a deep-fried tarantula on a stick instead.

Strangely enough the option of eating our way to victory over our eight-legged potential overloads is an under-explored option in film.

In our non-exhaustive list we start with the classic Jon Pertwee Doctor Who episode, Planet of the Spiders. Evil spider queen, spiders possessing humans, spiders enslaving humans, and the Doctor regenerating into his Tom Baker incarnation. Definitely not one for the arachnophobes.

GenDalDVD-0001 And we get to see the Doctor’s Venusian akido here back in the day.


A little closer to home, the Avondale spider makes its presence felt in the 1990 film, Arachnophobia. Here the spiders are plentiful, super-deadly, and the hero is scared to death of any sort of spider (hence the title of the film).

The Avondale spider was used as in the film for the villain – 300 were taken from Avondale, New Zealand because they are large, social, and pretty much can’t harm human beings. (We live near Avondale. This does keep me awake some nights)

Here’s the trailer.

And the local star strutting her stuff for a Western Leader reporter.

And the giant model spider, Dale, in the suburb of Avondale. More details here.


And now for the genuine B-grade spider movies (or potentially lower grade than that. The contenders are Eight Legged Freaks (2002); Spiders 3D (2013); and Big Ass Spider! (2013). You decide from the trailers which one you might start with.

The movie Eight Legged Freaks has its origins in the 1997 New Zealand short film, Larger than Life, directed by Ellory Elkayem. From here Elkayem went on to direct They Nest (AKA Creepy Crawlers) and Eight Legged Freaks.

(Go and watch the entire 12 minute film at the NZ On Screen archive)





For those of you who don’t want to watch a spider film, but do want to read some good science fiction, then I recommend John Wyndham’s novel Web (1979).

Web by John Wyndham.jpg

Or NZ psychologist, Nigel Latta, overcoming his arachnophobia: Watch: Nigel Latta on curing fear in a matter of minutes by harnessing the power of your brain