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  Eight Legged Freaks Web Of Fear
Year: 2002
Director: Ellory Elkayem
Stars: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Doug E. Doug, Scarlett Johansson, Rick Overton, Leon Rippy, Matt Czuchry, Jay Arlen Jones, Eileen Ryan, Tom Noonan
Genre: Horror, Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 6 votes)
Review: The mayor of the desert town of Prosperity has, unbeknownst to its citizens, been accepting toxic waste for storage. When some of that waste is accidentally introduced into the local river, and subsequently the large spider collection of a nearby scientist, chaos follows. The spiders grow to enormous size and begin feasting on the townsfolk...

This humorous giant monster movie was scripted by the director and Jesse Alexander. It sets itself up as an homage to the big bug horrors of the fifties, such as Them and Tarantula, but it comes across more as a Bert I. Gordon effort from the 1970s along the lines of Empire of the Ants. Where this scores, though, is in the way it doesn't take itself too seriously, aiming for that rollercoaster ride experience.

The huge creatures - tarantulas, trapdoor spiders, jumping spiders and more - are mainly created courtesy of the now-traditional CGI, and their speed is effective even if you do feel as if you're watching spider cartoons rather than the real thing. The action sequences manage a giddy excitement as the monsters scurry after their prey, sating their voracious appetite - pretty bloodlessly, it must be said. But the motorbike chase and the attack on the shopping mall (not unlike Dawn of the Dead) should get the adrenaline pumping.

The supporting characters fill out the usual suspects - untrustworthy mayor, bumbling deputy, rebellious teens, crotchety aunt - and the main characters are Chris (David Arquette), back in town to reclaim his father's abandoned gold mine, and the sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) who is also a single mother. Naturally, Arquette bonds with the sheriff's small arachnid expert of a son and becomes the family's surrogate father figure before the movie ends.

There are also some eccentric touches, such as the ostrich farm the cash-strapped town has set up and Doug E. Doug's paranoid radio host, a sort of black Art Bell who broadcasts conspiracy theories to the amused populace. He has trouble convincing the endangered citzens, of course, and can only accept the threat himself when he is told they are "Spiders from Mars".

All in all, Eight Legged Freaks is an engaging diversion that doesn't try to be anything other than a thrilling old-style monster movie. It's certainly better than The Giant Spider Invasion, anyway. Since when do spiders growl, chatter and squeal, though? Pretty good music by John Ottman (listen for the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" reference).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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