Here Be Spiders: Arachnophobia & Arachnoquake
After watching and reviewing all five of the Tremors movies lately, I decided to turn my attention to movies about critters that mostly dwell above the ground — spiders.
Arachnophobia, a big-budget mainstream effort from 1990, is one of the better known examples of this sub-sub-genre. Then there’s Arachnoquake, one of those SyFy originals (yes, one of those) that came out in 2012.
Jeff Daniels, John Goodman
Directed by Frank Marshall
With a budget of $31 million and involvement by Steven Spielberg (executive producer), it’s pretty clear that even though Arachnophobia treads B-movie territory it is not exactly a B-movie. Jeff Daniels takes the starring role here as a doctor who moves to the countryside to take over the practice of a small town doctor who is retiring. That plan goes astray and then there’s a thing with some nasty spiders, just in from South America.
Unfortunately for the Daniels character, he suffers from the very same malady that gives the movie its name. So naturally he ends up being the one who must spearhead the counterattack against the spiders, in the face of no small amount of skepticism, even after several people have died from spider bites. Along the way he gets some help from Goodman’s character, an over the top exterminator who brings a fair amount of comic relief to the proceedings. It wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to reveal that it all turns out mostly well in the end. Although it’s pretty high class stuff for a critter movie it was a decent effort.
Speaking of Tremors, which came out the same year as Arachnophobia, watch for the clip of Family Ties playing on a TV in the background in the latter movie. Family Ties featured Michael Gross as the dad of said family, the same Michael Gross who appeared in all five Tremors movies.
Edward Furlong, Tracey Gold
Directed by Griff Furst
I’ll kick this off by saying that Arachnoquake was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Yes, that’s damning it with faint praise but since SyFy originals don’t seem to get much praise at all it’s something. Mind you, I don’t have a whole lot of praise to offer, since the plot isn’t much to look at, the actors range from capable to laughable and the special effects leave something to be desired.
The plot, such as it is, deals with an earthquake in New Orleans that somehow unleashes a plague of… you know. A few families, a girls’ softball team and the military, among others, band together to fight off the critters, which range in size from a human hand to quite alarmingly large.
Things proceed like you’d expect in a this type of movie and by the time it’s all over the humans (if not the filmmakers) have triumphed.
Not much else to say, except that it managed to hold my attention to the end, so I guess that’s something.
William I. Lengeman III’s last review for us was Notes From the Underground, Part II: Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins and Tremors 5: Bloodlines. He holds forth at www.wileng3.com.
Probably would have been better off going with the somewhat higher production values of “8-LEgged Freaks” for your humans for giant spiders.
Never forget Giant Spider Invasion, with the memorable scene where the elderly alcoholic woman is fixing her “breakfast” and doesn’t notice a spider fell into the blender. Although it’s a pretty bad movie, the commentary on the MST3K version makes it semi-watchable.
I love *8-Legged Freaks!” All three of my kids went nuts when we first watched it together. That movie is a blast, and perfect Friday night entertainment.