In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giants this week. Today it is giant spiders which admittedly my wife couldn’t watch. Eight Legged Freaks is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: Eight Legged Freaks (2002) – Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief sexuality, and language.
“When a toxic waste spill near a small Arizona community causes spiders to mutate into rampaging arachnids the size of automobiles, it’s only a matter of time before the eight-legged freaks develop a taste for prey other than insects. David Arquette and Kari Wuhrer star as the duo that rallies the town’s defenses in director Ellory Elkayem’s affectionate send-up of the creature features of yesteryear.”
“They’re not aliens – they’re spiders”
As might be inferred by both the title and the two stars, Eight Legged Freaks does not take itself seriously. It is not intended to be a scary film or a straight out comedy. It comes across as a loving homage to the classic giant creature movies like Them! or Tarantula!
In a tie-in to yesterday’s film, Them! is shown on a TV in the background.
The film opens with the ubiquitous toxic waste accident. It then segues into a scene with the wonderfully creepy Tom Noonan (strangely uncredited) as Joshua, owner of the spider farm. This allows us to see all the different types of spiders (jumping, trap door, etc.) and their methods of attack prior to supersizing them.
Many of the fights are played for laughs. There is a cute off-camera fight between a cat and a giant spider that is shown in Looney Toons fashion as a series of drywall imprints. One of the bit plays dies on an organ donor poster.
Aurally the film is a treat as well. There is a wonderful and near constant use of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider theme throughout the movie. The spiders make all kinds of funny animal noises. My favorite is a bit involving a muzaked Strangers in the Night.
David Arquette is the same likable schmo here that he plays in the Scream series. Genre veteran Kari Wuhrer is the hot sheriff and love interest and actually acquits herself quite well. They make a cute couple.
All of the supporting cast paint their characters in broad strokes. Stand-up comedian Doug E. Doug has a lot of fun as a conspiracy nut while stand-up comedian Rick Overton plays Deputy Pete. Character actor Leon Rippy (Deadwood) hams it up as the slimeball mayor Wade.
Arac Attack is mentioned a few times in the film. This was the original title of the film. At some point someone felt that Arquette’s exclamation late in the film made a better title. Neither is a particularly good title – I wonder if this film would have done better if it had had a better title and perhaps a more high-profile star.
Netflix presents Eight Legged Freaks in high definition and it sure does look pretty. I recommend this tongue-in-cheek horror film because above all it is just plain goofy fun.
People Watch: I bet indie darling Scarlett Johansson wishes she could leave this off her resume. She appears as the Sheriff’s daughter.