Eight Legged Freaks
review by Dan Lybarger, 2 August 2002
is a rare creature feature that actually suffers when the filmmakers
try to make the human characters more like the genuine articles.
Normally, movies like this one are a lot more fun if we actually
care whether the people become monster fodder. Just as you really
don't miss the hyphen that should be placed in the first two words
of the title, you really won't miss the people who occupy the
fictional town of Prosperity, Arizona.
the movie opens, the town's name is a sick ironic joke. Prosperity's
once bustling mine is now dead, and locals are struggling to find
work. The only person who seems to be doing particularly well is a
slightly batty scientist (Tom Noonan in an all-to-brief performance)
who's illegally breading spiders to be a little feistier than nature
perverse nurturing and a toxic waste spill combine to make the
arachnids grow to the size of Subarus. Soon hundreds of enormous
spiders tear through the little burg, crushing or webbing anyone in
their way. Folks who'd normally not be speaking, like Chris
McCormick (David Arquette), the son of the town's late patriarch ,
and Sam Parker (Kari Wuher), his former flame who's now the sheriff,
must now collect enough rifles and ammo to subdue the beasts.
to the writing that's often standard for this genre (The Giant Spider Invasion is a delightfully cheesy example), the
script credited to Randy Kornfield, Jesse Alexander and New
Zealand-based director Ellory Elkayem is positively Shakespearean.
The previous movie featured such witty and original lines as,
"You're so dumb you wouldn't know rabbit turds from Rice
still doesn't make the characters and the dialogue for Eight Legged Freaks terribly inspired. Doug E. Doug is somewhat
irritating as an alien-obsessed radio announcer, and his repeated
references to anal probing are stale and witless.
of the charm of the '70s giant animal movies is the fact that they
weren't intended to be funny. The entertainment value of flicks like
The Giant Spider Invasion
and the bizarre overgrown rabbit epic The
Night of the Lepus was accidental, so going for laughs might not
have been such a smart move.
unrequited crush on Wuhrer and some parental anxiety issues
involving Wuhrer's kids (Scott Terra and Scarlett Johansson) succeed
only in making the wait for the big spiders seem longer. Still, once
the computer-generated bugs take over the screen, the fun starts.
Thanks to the new technology, we get to see many spiders instead of
one big unconvincing puppet. The web spinners are also remarkably
diverse. Alert viewers can make out several distinct species and
marvel how each has its own plan of attack. It probably doesn't hurt
that Dean Devlin, who was behind such CGI extravaganzas as Independence Day and Stargate,
was the producer on this one.
eight-legged freaks also attack people more creatively than
expected. One of the most delightfully odd sequences features them
hunting down motorcyclists and outrunning them merely by leaping
quickly. There's also a funny bit where a spider tries to corner an
old man by hiding in a small tent.
could have been potentially more fun if the human beings had been
either better imagined or left out entirely. The latter sounds
tempting because no one shells out money for a movie with that title
to see dull people when big arthropods are a lot more engaging.