Eight Legged Freaks Movie Review

Spiders are annoying little creatures that always find ways to invade your space. Many people find the sight of them scary, but usually a good-soled shoe is the best defense. But the spiders of Eight Legged Freaks are so massive that a shoe won't even dent their exoskeleton; too bad the film itself leaves a similarly lackluster impression.

In the Arizona desert town of Prosperity, there is little to get excited about - not even the sparkling new shopping mall can bring energy to this lifeless place. But when a toxic spill oozes its way to a spider farm (local industry!), the spiders mutate into gigantic monsters and this sleepy town is in for a rude awakening. After eating up the dog, cat, and ostrich population, hundreds of hungry eight-legged beasts are ready to feast on the residents. It is now up to a love-struck miner (David Arquette), the best-looking sheriff since Suzanne Somers (Kari Wuhrer), her kids (Scarlett Johansson and Scott Terra), and an annoying ham-radio operator (Doug E. Doug) to save this who-really-cares little town.

Eight Legged Freaks is a throwback to the "when monsters attack" genre of the 1950s, and it's the kind of lighthearted, summer popcorn movie you expect to be silly and predictable. We know the acting will be overdone. We know the adults will not believe a little boy who swears big spiders are on the move. We expect the phone service will be knocked out and the town's only cell phone will fail to get service. Even the ending is well telegraphed early in the movie.

Eight Legged Freaks operates in much the same vein as Tremors, but it's not nearly as much fun. Freaks doesn't re-invent this tiresome genre (as it should if it expects anyone to pay to see it). Rather, all we get is a bunch of similar, giant spider monsters attacking people we could care less about. The incomplete plot only serves to facilitate a tiresome spider assault (see also the recent Evolution). The movie squanders any potential to plant the shocks meant to jolt a weary audience, but instead the movie chooses conventionality over originality.

The special effects behind these annoying spiders come from CFX, the same group that did its haphazard work on Independence Day. The press kit insists the effects are "state-of-the-art," however all the spiders do here is jump, scurry, crawl, and spin webs. I'm not sure what's so special about that - isn't that what spiders do? Maybe if the effects were really extraordinary, we could have witnessed how they mutated into giants, quickly multiplied, and consumed their prey. Now that's entertainment!

The DVD includes a commentary track from a number of cast and crew members, a short (text) history of the monster movie (worth a peek), and 12 minutes of context-void deleted scenes (definitely worth skipping).

Pay no attention to the giant spider behind the La-Z-Boy.


Comments

Eight Legged Freaks Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2002

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