There Was Almost A 'Spider-Man' Horror Movie In The 1980s

Spider-Man continues to be a beloved film figure, with the character swinging back into theaters next month with Spider-Man: Far From Home. But things could've gone a lot differently for the big screen adventures of everyone's favorite wall-crawler. Because back in the 1980s, there was almost a Spider-Man horror movie directed by none other than Texas Chain Saw Massacre filmmaker Tobe Hooper.

Would you be up for a Spider-Man horror movie? I certainly would, but then again, I'm a weirdo. Alas, I'll have to daydream about what could've been. Digital Spy has a story about the lost Spider-Man horror film that almost spun its web in the 1980s, back when B-movie powerhouse Cannon Films had the rights to the character.

Per their story, Tobe Hooper was tapped to direct, and Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens was hired to write the script, which changed Peter Parker's origin story considerably. In this version, "instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider, Parker was deliberately bombarded with radiation by a corporate scientist – named Doctor Zork – who transforms the ID photographer (not student, or journalist) into a giant eight-armed spider-hybrid, who's so monstrous he swiftly becomes suicidal."

That sounds a lot like David Cronenberg's The Fly, and I certainly would've loved to see that – even though I know it has nothing to do with Spider-Man. On that latter point, Marvel's Stan Lee agreed, and a new script was penned by Ted Newsom and John Brancato. This script was a bit more of a traditional superhero film. Per an older article focused on this same story, Hooper had very little interest in directing a superhero movie. He left the project, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter director Joseph Zito took over.

According to the Digital Spy story, the new script "saw Otto Octavius as a teacher and mentor to a college-aged Peter Parker...The same accident that transforms Peter also turns Otto into Doctor Octopus, who tries to control the world using a previously undiscovered 'fifth force' of nature. As a result, New York City is threatened, as is the world."

And then there was the potential cast:

Tom Cruise (admittedly early in his career) as Parker, Bob Hoskins as Doc Ock, Christopher Lee as a supporting scientist, Lauren Bacall or Katharine Hepburn for Aunt May, with Stan Lee potentially playing Daily Bugle editor J Jonah Jameson in a role that wasn't so much a cameo as a supporting part.

Whether or not this cast was actually locked down or just wishful thinking isn't specified in the article. But according to Edward Gross's 2002 book Spider-Man Confidential, these actors were only "considered" for their respective parts, not actually offered roles. In any case, the movie never got off the ground anyway, and Spider-Man wouldn't crawl across the big screen until Sam Raimi's 2002 film. While Raimi was primarily known as a horror director at the time, his Spider-Man film eschewed horror...which probably was for the best.

But still, how could would it have been to have a body-horror Spider-Man film? The answer: very cool.