Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
Review Date: July 17, 2002
Director: Ellory Elkayem
Writer: Ellory Elkayem, Jesse Alexander
Producers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Doug E. Doug
A small mining community is overrun by giant spiders after a batch of radioactive material falls into one of their water sources. The smart kid with mucho insect knowledge attempts to warn everyone else about it, but just like in most "monster movies", he is ignored until it is almost too late. The ravaging of a small town by spiders...ensues.
A movie that knows what it wants to be, delivers on its popcorn, cheesy intentions for the most part and invites everyone along for the ride as giant spiders invade a small town with plenty of action, humor and fun along the way. Not an Oscar wannabe, not a film which expects you to sit down and debate its deeper meaning afterwards, but certainly one from which you can anticipate goofy enjoyment, awesome spiders and a number of amusing characters. In fact, I pretty much liked all of this flick's stars, especially the lead in the film (don't let the ads or title sequence fool ya, David Arquette is not the lead here), Kari Wuhrer, who strips herself away from her sexy straight-to-video roles of the past and jumps right into this kickass sheriff's body with mucho presence, attitude and boobage. Oh yeah, and thanks for that tight, white shirt, Kari...me likey very much! Arquette also handles himself pretty well as the "straight man" for once, and the usually irritating kid is engaging and quite non-annoying at his post. I also like how they made him look and act like Harry Potter...nice! Doug E. Doug was also ideal as the comic relief, playing the perfect conspiracy theorist about town, and the deputy dude played the "dumb cop" with just the right amount of humor. Oh yeah, Tom Noonan was also delectably creepy in his small role. Scarlett Johansson's character is actually one of the few that was shoulder-shruggable in this film. But let's talk about the real stars of this movie: those damn crazy spiders! I loved them all, appreciated their creepiness throughout, dug their little mutterings as well as the goofy sounds that they made whenever they got squished. The special effects were also especially well done and the green slime oozing out of them was coolio as well. The action scenes in the film were also well established, especially one of the first ones, which slapped the spiders against a bunch of teen motor-bikers, which was a rockin' good time!
Unfortunately, the film loses some of its steam during its final act when things just start to feel a little too redundant as the awesome build-up from the first act, and the entertaining festivities of the second (the actual invasion), leave us with a pretty typical finale and very few memorable lines or scenes. Of course, I was also hoping that one of them jumping spiders would hop onto Wuhrer and tear her shirt right off, but maybe that was just me. As for the plotline, well, seeing as this is basically just a loose remake of GREMLINS, STARSHIP TROOPERS and TREMORS all tossed into one big 1950s monster movie premise, it "was what it was", with very few real twists and turns. Unlike another "monster" flick from this summer though, REIGN OF FIRE, this one definitely packed (maybe even over-packed) itself with its lead attraction of creepy-crawlies. And yeah, if you didn't like spiders before, I don't think these huge motherfuckers are gonna change your mind any, in fact, many of them are quite creepy and along with some decent suspense and a few "boo" scares, make for an all-around entertaining summer shebang. Oops, I almost forgot to mention the peppy score, which was also ideally creepy and perky as required. All in all, not the all-out camp success that I was hoping for, mostly because it ran out of gas near the end, but definitely a blast for anyone looking to shut off their minds for an hour and a half and watch giant spiders munching their way through a small town.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian