When a tarantula owned by the inimitable fashion icon known simply as Buzz successfully escaped from a manmade prison in the 1990 instaclassic Home Alone, fear invaded the hearts of viewers otherwise left entirely overjoyed by the delightfully PG vibes of accomplished selfie organizer Macaulay Culkin. That terrifying creature, of course, would quickly make its way around much of the semi-abandoned McCallister residence before eventually crawling across Daniel Stern's face and promptly inspiring one of the greatest screams in cinematic history:
Stern, who most recently took to Facebook to provide a bit of insight on what exactly working with the elusive Joe Pesci is really like, decided to give fans another glimpse behind the Home Alone curtain on Christmas Eve by sharing the previously untold story of Barry the Tarantula.
"People who meet me are always curious if the tarantula was real, if my scream was real, and if I was scared, crazy or both," Stern says. "The answer to all three of those questions is 'Yes.'" Though director Chris Columbus' original plan was to simply use a "life-like spider replica," which somehow sounds even more terrifying than an actual spider, that idea was quickly crushed in favor of the real thing:
To insure that the “gag” was going to work, they brought in a different crew member, this one from the animal wrangling department. He had a cage and in this cage was an exact replica of the replica that the prop department had made. But you could definitely see by the way it moved that this was no fake, but a creature of royalty in the natural world. I was a little intimidated for the first time in the movie. The wrangler introduced me to "Barry the Tarantula” (possibly mis-remembering his name, apologies). They had Barry crawl around on my hand and head. I asked if Barry was trained and was told they had been working with him for a few days but tarantulas are kind of tough to train. I asked if his poison had been removed, and was told that if the poison was removed, Barry would die. I said, “Right, but if the poison isn't removed, then I'm gonna die. See where I'm going here?!” “Just don't make any sudden, threatening moves and you'll be fine.” “But I’m going to be screaming in Barry's face. Do you think he'll feel threatened by that?!” “Barry doesn't have ears. He can't hear. Relax.
As for the rumor that the iconic scream ("an homage to the shower scene in Psycho") was simply "mimed" so as not to anger the spider, Stern is quick to rebuke such nonsense. However, the best part of Stern's latest foray into Home Alone history is easily his theory on the difference between working with a poisonous spider and working with aforementioned god Joe Pesci:
I then had to beat Joe Pesci with a crowbar. And we all know that even though it was pretend and funny and a fake crowbar, it's a thousand times more dangerous pissing off Joe Pesci than pissing of a venomous spider that's crawling on your face.
Peep Stern's full post, which is well worth the read, right here.