"I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel when Tarantula took to the hills" Thing is, Leo himself didn't know (the) tarantula took to the hills until the very end. Eighth of eleven movies referenced in Science Fiction/Double Feature. Six down, five to go. And one is waiting for me at the library.
John Agar is Dr. Matt Hastings, country doctor. He becomes curious what professor Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) is doing in his research laboratory twenty miles from town in the middle of the dessert when his colleague is found dead with an advanced case of Acromegaly, a ridiculous sounding made up disease ... oh, it's real? Well, how about that.
Anyhow, Deemer goes back to his lab of oversized rabbits, guinea pigs, and spiders, when another unmentioned colleague with advanced stages of acromegaly attacks and injects him with the "nutrient". During the scuffle, the lab is damaged in a fire and the spider cage is broken open, allowing (the) tarantula to take to the proverbial hills. Hastings, country doctor and amateur sleuth, gets the opportunity to investigate when hot young lab assistant (named Steve) arrives for her first scientifical job. Dr. Hastings, country doctor, amateur sleuth, and babe hound, likes very much.
Universal knew how to make a B movie back in the day. Solid script and acting, and the special effects were great for the day. In contrast to Killers from Space, made the year earlier, the oversized animals in Tarantula look real. In Killers, it they looked ridiculous. Peter Graves, may he rest in peace, and may he never be judged by that piece of crap movie. Tarantula totally delivered. It had atmosphere, suspense, and a good story. I'm not saying I'm surprised it didn't get nominated for any awards. It is what it is, and it totally delivered. My boys weren't watching but I think they would all have liked it. Director Jack Arnold was the master. AMRU 3.5.
Oh, and body count for the tarantula is six. Look for a quick scene near the end with a young Clint Eastwood.