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Spider Baby

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This rare low-budget horror film has been out of circulation for years. Its laser debut (in a great letterboxed print) is a result of the recent celebrity of writer-director Jack Hill, whose Switchblade Sisters was rescued from obscurity by Quentin Tarantino. A black comedy about a rural family that’s devolved into cannibalism, Spider Baby probably struck the few people who saw it as disturbing, but post-Texas Chainsaw Massacre it’s more Gidget than gore, interesting mostly for its cast (Lon Chaney is surprisingly affecting) and black-and-white, early-’60s ambiance. On an audio track, Hill gives a running commentary; he’s fascinating on indie filmmaking in the days before Sundance and is bemused by the sudden interest in his work. B