This review is full of references that may be considered spoilers. Ultimately, there is nothing I can write that would spoil this turkey.
A flight from South America to the U.S. is being co-piloted by a pre-WKRP Howard Hesseman. That is one of the most terrifying aspects of Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo. Luckily for Hesseman, the plane crashes and his character dies long before he can truly be associated what could have easily been a career-ending journey. Instead, his brief appearance and somewhat muddled accent is a highlight.
The plane crashes in a small town in California that has everything riding on an orange crop. The spiders get out and…well, they kill some people and make themselves at home in the orange crop. They manage to do this in 95 minutes, and thanks to director Stuart Hagman, do it without creating any drama, tension, or excitement for the audience.
The cast also includes a pre-Sheriff Lobo Claude Akins giving a stoic performance as the fire chief set on saving the town and the oranges. A pre-Little House on the Prairie Matthew Labyorteaux, and many other actors that would go on to much better projects are also along for a very slow-moving journey. The death of Mathew (Labyorteaux, yes, the actor and the character had the same first name) was one of the worst choices made by writers John Groves and Guerdon Trueblood. As the only child in the film, the character and performance brought some energy to an otherwise poorly written and directed story. His death, which created no tension at all, was a waste and added nothing to the storyline.
To get all the spiders in one area and squash them, the town folk come up with a wild scheme that culminates with a large contingency getting trapped in a warehouse full of oranges and deadly spiders. As the locals manage to escape, we are treated to a truly bizarre ending. We see our heroes emerge and the finale music begins to play. As if they somehow forgot that the spiders are still in with the oranges, the music stops, and a silly solution is implemented. Is it really over this time? Everyone seems to hope so.
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo earns Ron’s Rejection. Some movies are so bad they’re good. This is not one of them. With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s not too early to get prepared for the White Elephant gift parties. The Blu-ray release of Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo from KL Studio Classics is available on Amazon and includes virtually nothing in the way of bonus material. Some trailers for equally bad movies and new audio commentary by Amanda Reyes, Dan Bubnik, and Nate Johnson of The Made for TV Mayhem Show podcast. It does include the blank space where the commercials appear in this made-for-television dud.
Watch Arachnophobia instead. An exciting story about deadly spiders in a small-town sans oranges.