Review: Big Ass Spider (Fantasia)

Big Ass Spider (Fantasia)
7 10

PLOT: When a giant mutant spider goes on a murderous rampage through downtown Los Angeles, an exterminator (Greg Grunberg) and a security guard (Lomberto Boyar) become unlikely heroes.

REVIEW: BIG ASS SPIDER is director Mike Mendez' affectionate tribute to old-time creature features. People are bound to compare this to the recent spate of SyFy/Asylum flicks like SHARKNADO, but while those are mostly just ultra-cheap movies trying to cash in on a wacky name or premise, BIG ASS SPIDER is somewhat more ambitious. Rather than take a page from those knowingly cheesy movies, this is a more sincere effort, with a vintage b-movie vibe right out of movies like THEM & THE DEADLY MANTIS, with a little of Larry Cohen's Q-THE WINGED SERPENT thrown in for good measure.

It's best feature is the cast, led by J.J Abrams-fanboy favorite Greg Grunberg as our appealing everyman hero. A hapless exterminator who spends most of his time killing rats for sweet old lady Mrs. Jefferson (Lin Shaye) and being paid in fruit-cakes, Grunberg's Alex is a terribly likable hero. His obsession with spiders (right down to a tattoo on his forearm) gives him an edge over the military group led by Ray Wise (this is the rare movie when the army guys aren't made out to be jerks), that's called in to deal with the Arachnid menace. Imagine John Goodman from ARACHNOPHOBIA, but as the lead, and you have an idea of what Grunberg's character is like.

He has an appealing, if stereotypical sidekick in Lomberto Boyar's security guard Jose. It's a goofy part, but then again, this is an intentionally goofy movie, and Boyar's got a certain charm that makes the character work. It's also lots of fun to see former BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER big-bad Clare Kramer as Grunberg's love interest, Wise's second-in-command, an army Lieutenant who- naturally- starts off barely tolerating our hero, but after a few last-minute-rescues winds up in his arms. I liked Kramer back in her BUFFY days, and I like her now, and it has to be said she has a great horror movie scream.

Of course, some folks are too cynical to allow themselves to enjoy BIG ASS SPIDER. With a name like that, you're obviously expecting something silly, and Mendez' film won't let you down in that regard. The shoe-string budget means the CGI is cheesy, but the deliberately fakey look of the spider works for the B-movie vibe, and while the effects are probably too low-tech to be considered good, the creature design is imaginative.

If you like horror-comedies with a heavy emphasis on the comedy (although there's still lots of face melting and people being torn in half), you'll probably get a big kick out of BIG ASS SPIDER. The line between being goofy and being stupid is thin, but BIG ASS SPIDER never becomes too much of the latter. If you like Grunberg, and good silly fun, this should be right up your alley.



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