Ronnie James Dio. The greatest heavy metal vocalist of all time. He would have turned 79 this year.

Dio’s band in 1988, a tight pack of monster players who are the best at what they do, performing at a high level every night and mystifying fans with their musical chops. What else could they possibly need, you ask?

An 8-foot wide giant robotic spider descending from the rafters, THAT’S WHAT, YOU IDIOT. Watch the video below to examine.

Who doesn’t love a good practical effect? OK fine, who doesn’t love a bad practical effect? I’m dead serious because even a big, goofy stage effect like this one is 10x more fun than the soulless, digital nonsense and giant screens we get shoved in our faces at some concerts these days. On Dio’s 1988 Dream Evil tour, a giant laser-deflecting spider crawled from the rafters and hovered over guitarist Craig Goldy during his guitar solo. They couldn’t just let him solo. He needed to fight an 8 foot arachnid. Was it cheesy? Yes. Was it incredible? Double fuck yes.

Now here’s where the pain sets in. TNUC missed out because just a few years ago the mechanical spider was sold in an auction!

Photos courtesy of Julien’s Auctions on behalf of the Ronnie James Dio estate.


“A massive hydraulic powered welded aluminum black widow spider with eight fully articulated and bladed legs emanating from a central thorax fitted with eight spotlights with retractable caged head containing an additional light and red gel; the large abdomen houses various control and power mechanisms, including a Dayton motor. During the 1988 Dio Dream Evil Tour the spider was suspended above the stage and slain by the band. Currently housed in a grey rolling crate.”

Dio was always known for elaborate stage props, especially when he broke the bank on the previous Sacred Heart tour as he unveiled a massive dragon on stage. According to Craig Goldy in a recent interview “Ronnie practically cut his profit margin in half bringing the fans an 18 foot fire breathing dragon. It really did have fire coming out of its mouth, lasers shot out of the dragon’s eyes, and wherever that laser would land an explosion would take place, both visual and audio. He didn’t hike up ticket prices for all that…. it was his way of giving back to the fans.” 

Dio and dragon

This is why I will always prefer a *good* roadside haunted house with DIY effects that you know they put a lot of work into, rather than screens or zombies and clowns roaming around at random. Give me a rotting cornfield maze featuring some grim reapers, paper mache props, foam graveyards, busty vampirellas, rubber props, airbrushed carnival art and someone going way too hard with the fog machine. My happy place.

Watching Dio’s giant spider reminds me of the 1986 movie Spookies, a certified classic on the Mount Rushmore of horror cheese. The special effects however, are unbelievably tremendous. The movie can be tough to sit through at 2am but man, you will never forget the practical effect scenes. My favorite being the “spider woman” segment (teaser above).

It’s probably a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get a chance to purchase the spider because knowing my luck, it would have come alive during a lightning storm one night. The last thing I need is Ronnie James Dio’s mechanical spider coming to kill me while I sleep. Although, I could have convinced an ex-girlfriend to go check out the box in the basement like in the Creepshow story “The Crate”. And just when she gets a little too close….

3 Comments on “DIO’S GIANT SPIDER.”


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