Carl R. Green & William R. Sanford (from the screenplay by Garrett Fort) - Tarantula (Crestwood House, 1985)
Blurb: Dr Matt Hastings blames the strange deaths of some men and herds of cattle on a giant tarantula. The Doctor, who made the spider, dies by accident while explaining the tarantula to his helper, Stephanie. The airforce defeats the creature with bombs and the world is safe again.
Usually I'd add a CONTAINS SPOILERS but that splendid blurb has rendered such a warning obsolete. What can I add but that it doesn't mislead? Anyway, this is another fab pdf giveaway from the wonderful Mr. Retrospace and at a mere 44 pages (and most of those lavishly illustrated with stills) surely one even the most lethargic reader can tackle? Have provided a sickly synopsis for the determinedly indolent, but don't waste the energy. The book is miles better and will take up far less of your time.
Prof. Deemer's assistant Eric Jacobs, is the first to die, his corpse swollen and twisted to the point where young hothead Dr Matt Hastings confidently asserts that it can't be Jacobs, as he didn't suffer with a severe case of acromegaly.
Prof. Deemer scuttles back to his mad scientist's laboratory to check on his giant rooster, oversized prairie dog and prize desert tarantula the size of a pony. Could one of these be in some way responsible for Eric's death? Bayard Lund, "Deemer's other assistant", sneaks up on Deemer, the man he holds responsible for his acute faceache and matching ugly, misshapen body, and lobs a stool at him. It misses and smashes straight through the glass cage containing the monster spider which, taking advantage of the fracas, scoots off sharpish to settle at the local landmark, Devil's Rock. Lund bashes Deemer unconscious and injects him with a dose of the same foul fluid cost him his good looks. Mission accomplished, he goes to his excruciatingly agonizing death a contented man.
Deemer recruits a new assistant, young, pretty biology student Stephanie "Everyone calls me Steve" Clayton. Josh at the hotel is a huge fan - he likes a woman who carries her own bags - and you get the impression Dr. Hastings wouldn't say no either. The Professor eases Steve into the job by giving her some fragile glass containers to store away. "You're getting good at this. If you dropped the large jar it would be all over. The whole lab would fill with deadly radioactivity." When she's done, he shows her how to make a giant rat. It's all part of his master-plan for ending world famine though you have to wonder at his choice of delicacies and why he is so intent on testing his growth serum on a man? Deemer is so caught up in the demonstration, he doesn't realise his hands have begun to swell and there's this really enormous shiny boil covering half his face...
Something causes a landslide at Devil's Rock. Something strips three of Farmer Anderson's cows to the bone. Later the same night, something strips Farmer Anderson to the bone for good measure. What do we know about this something? As no eyewitness has survived to tell the tale there's not a lot to go on, but whoever or whatever is responsible leaves gallons of slimy fluid wherever it strikes. Tarantula venom!
Prof. Deemer's instant acromegaly is now so advanced that even Steve can't help but notice. The old man is fighting constantly for breath. Steve calls Matt. Deemer, knowing his time is nearly up, gasps out his full confession, using a film about tarantula's to illustrate the important bits. Dying he may be, but Deemer won't be rushed which spells bad news for mining veterans, Jeb and Ed, all settled in their tent for the night when they're set upon by a vicious furry creature the size of a two storey house!
The spider makes for Deemer's house and drags the Prof. screaming from his sick bed (he's still lingering) before munching on his corpse. It places a huge tarantula eye to the window and lines up Matt and Steve as its next delicious snack. Can nobody stop this monster from Hell?
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.