All right- let’s face the elephant (or tarantula) in the room right now- YES- tonight’s film aired on our show four months ago. It is one of a group of made-for-TV movies we had acquired- and does star some familiar faces. It’s loaded with Vitamin C in the form of oranges- a real pick-me-up of caffeine thanks to some coffee beans- and more than your minimum daily requirement of danger in the form of deadly spiders! Please welcome back to our airwaves- “Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo”!
You may recall the set-up- a couple hotshot pilots are trying to leave South America with a cargo of coffee beans that will make them rich- and must make a monetary contribution ( nudge-nudge, wink-wink) to the local authorities before they will be allowed to take off. The clever pilots fund this contribution by making a covert deal to transport a trio of illegal immigrants to the states along with the coffee. The federales , happy with their bribe- I mean, new found wealth- are totally unaware of the stowaways on the plane as it takes off for the land of the free and the home of the orange crops.
However, there are additional stowaways that neither the pilots nor the immigrants are aware of-frightening fuzzy spiders that were accidentally shoveled into the bags of coffee beans! The plane flies through a nasty storm, jostling around the crew and passengers, as well as the cargo- upsetting the burlap bags of coffee, spreading some of their contents- both beans and spiders- throughout the hold of the plane- and the spiders make their presence known to the stowaways in a very nasty fashion. While the plane survives the storm, they’re still not safe- a mechanical problem forces the pilots to make an emergency landing – and they aim for a California town surrounded by orange groves. The dire situation becomes worse when spiders invade the cockpit, causing the plane to make a crash landing.
The crash site becomes a three ring circus, between the local folk trying to help, gawkers getting in the way, and idiots trying to loot the plane for free coffee beans. While crash victims are being removed from the wreckage, some stupidity causes a fire to break out, which drives the spiders away from the plane (fire- BAD!) as they scramble for protection in the nearby orange groves.
The town’s curmudgeon of a doctor is at a loss to explain the symptoms exhibited by the still-surviving victims- and is mystified that one of the townsfolk who was at the scene suddenly collapsed with similar symptoms. This proves to be only the beginning, as more deaths ensue, and the search for answers continues- with the town’s mayor reluctant to publicize what’s going on – he just so happens to be owner of the orange-processing plant, and worries that any information going public would affecting the sale of the oranges, which would spell financial ruin for the town.
A random discovery finally reveals the cause of the deaths and indicates that the spiders would be drawn to the orange plant for specific reasons. The facts trigger conflict among the locals, who have different theories on how to face the disaster descending upon them, as some decide to take things into their own hands without the okay of the authorities. The people at odds with each other could seal their own doom- as the orange packing plant become ground zero for man versus spiders- and each other- with economic ruin and a bumper crop of deceased citizens looming in their future!
This 1977 made-for-TV movie stars Claude Akins ,Howard Hesseman, and Tom Atkins of “Halloween III” fame. We’ll talk about them and their fellow castmembers, and again share reflections on this and other questionable horror films with our friend , the brains behind “Stan Against Evil”, comedian Dana Gould. We also repeat the song that was a big hit with viewers last time this movie ran- especially significant now that a certain TV series is running on MeTV!
“Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo” takes its final encore tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, or, if unsure when and where to find us in your area, check your local listings, or at www.metv.com . As always, MeTV encourages you to “live –Tweet” during the show on Twitter, and use the hashtag #svengoolie if you do. In the Chicago area, WCIU, the U, will once more bring you “20 Million Miles to Earth” at 11 am.
Many thanks to all our viewers who contributed to the WCIU “Fill a Bag- Fill a Bus” food drive this week. The Jewel Osco location I appeared at in River Forest, IL scored the largest amount of both food and monetary donations. It was really moving to see cart after cart come out of the store with the specific bag loaded with food- and we’re so proud to help the Greater Chicago Food Depository make a real dent in the number of hungry people they can assist.
Please enjoy this Memorial Day weekend- take a moment to reflect on the men and women who have given their lives for our country- and join us tonight for one more round of orange-scented arachnids!