Eight Legged Freaks, is quite a charming monster movie from 2002, signed by the “They Nest” director Ellory Elkayem, whom both penned and directed.
Notable is that my favorite doomsday director, Roland Emmerich, was the executive producer for this movie. The main cast consists of David Arquette (Scream), Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra and Scarlett Johansson.
The story is set in a slow and lazy mining town, somewhere in Arizona, who has seen better days. In the opening scenes, we see a truck driver lose a barrel of toxic waste, while he avoids running over a rabbit. The barrel rolls down and lands in a small pond, where it starts to leak out its hazardous substance.
The pond is also, where Joshua Taft collects crickets, which he feeds the spiders at his exotic farm. When young Mike Parker visits the farm, Taft is high-spirited, because his spiders are growing faster and bigger, than they have ever done before.
He explains to Mike that it must be due to the crickets, which is like steroids for the spiders. Unfortunately, during Mike’s visit, one of the spiders gets loose and soon after Mike leaves the farm, the spider attacks and kills Taft, whom manages to destroy the terrariums, setting the spiders free, as he goes down.
Meanwhile, Chris McCormack (David Arquette) returns to town, after ten years of absence. A return that creates a bit of commotion, as he walks in on a town meeting, just when the shady mayor tries to convince the residents to sell their land to a big cooperation, something that McCormack is strongly against, since he believes that the mines still contains gold.
Luckily, the movie never goes much deeper into that side story, instead, Elkayem shifts gears and move on with the main story the spiders. Suddenly, the pets in the town start to disappear and I especially enjoy one scene, where a cat is fighting a spider, inside a drywall, it’s quite hilarious and sets the tone for the remainder of the movie.
Before anyone knows it, spiders the size of a SUV are everywhere and they soon overrun the town. McCormack joins up with the sexy sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), with which he has a fling and her two kids, Mike and Ashley Parker (Scarlett Johansson). Together they mobilize the citizens into a dreadful fight, against the eight legged monsters, from the town mall.
The spiders in this movie are huge and the fact that the special effects aren’t 100% does not squash the movie, quite the opposite. Instead, the effects enhance the charm of the movie and remind me of the monster movies from the 50’s and 60’s.
Another thing about the spiders is that they have a rather amusing body language, distinct personalities, and do some amusing noises. Even though, it might be enjoyable, it does take the sting off the fear factor, as well.
Unless you have a morbid fear of spiders, I doubt that the spiders in Eight Legged Freaks will scare you. Although, there is one scene, which I found to be quite icky, which will you a mouthful of disgust, regardless if you like spiders or not, but besides that one, the spiders in this movie are more like the Gremlins, actually.
It’s clearly shown the cast embraced the story, understanding the pitch of the movie, and does their performance with a twinkle in their eyes. I found Doug E. Doug’s interpretation of the slightly paranoid radio announcer Harlan, to be pleasant to watch.
That combined with Elkayem’s ability to build up the story and then present it in a balanced pace, not too slow and not too fast, results in a fabulous, fun and enjoyable monster movie, which will give you some laughs and a few shudders that will crack you up on any lazy day.
My rating of “Eight Legged Freaks”:
Photo Credit: Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.