Eight Legged Freaks (2002), Cert 12.

Director - Ellory Elkayem.

Writers - Randy Cornfield & Ellory Elkayem.

Starring - David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Doug E. Doug, Scarlett Johansson & Tim Noonan.


Premise - When a barrel of toxic waste falls into a pond near Taft’s Rare Spider Farm in the quiet desert town of Prosperity the spiders start to grow to exceptional size. Can land owner Chris McCormack (David Arquette) and the towns sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer) help the townsfolk defeat the new found spider menace?

Eight Legged Freaks is a ton of fun to watch. It's in no way a serious flick, the films tongue is planted firmly in its cheek throughout and it sports all the hallmarks of cheesy 50's 'beast' movies. The kid no-one believes, the underhand town mayor, the paranoid coot that no-one listens to, the slightly dull deputy, the hot young couple with a budding romance forced to save the day. All clichés are present and correct, but in this film they are supposed to be.

The film is a parody, a homage to the 'classic' beast movies of the 50's and whilst in other films such clichéd transgressions would hurt the film, here they are the film. If you are a fan of these old films then Eight Legged Freaks will be like a walk down memory lane. All you need is a convertible, a hot date and a drive-in and it'll be like stepping back in time.

That's not to say that the film isn't applicable to today's hip young audience. Enough fresh material is introduced to keep those who have never seen 'Them!' entertained. For a start the special effects are of a phenomenal quality. A mixture of anamtronic puppets and CGI creations has been employed to realise the many varieties of spider in the film. Both interact well with their environments and the animators have made an excellent job of giving the spiders 'character'.

Bizarrely the spiders have facial expressions and can make noises when jumping and running around that almost sounds like laughter. I was heavily reminded of 'Gremlins' as far as the spiders were concerned. Whilst (as there is in Gremlins) there is no individual characters to be found amongst the arachnids (except the huge tarantula) the different breeds act differently. It adds to the fun feel of the film to see a spider's eyes bulge as it's about to hit a window.

Also perfect for the feel of the film is the lead actor, David Arquette. His particular goofy brand of 'acting' suits this film down to the ground. He really hams it up and it was good idea on the part of the film-makers to have someone like Arquette who can spoof the acting quality of these old flicks without too much effort.

As is the rule for these kinds of film, the female lead must be suitably foxy and Kari Wuhrer fits that bill nicely. She and Arquette have a nice bit of chemistry; their romance sub-plot is never allowed to get in the way of the big spiders and is a welcome addition to the film. These kinds of plots can sometimes feel tacked on to entice a female audience, but the chemistry between Arquetee and Wuhrer make sit work.

It's nice to see Tim 'The Toothfairy' Noonan in a small role at the start of the film. He brings a nice creepiness to any film he works on and can always be counted on to deliver. Elsewhere look out for Scarlett 'Ghost World' Johansson as the sheriff's daughter further adding to the fox appeal of the movie. I was also impressed by young Scott Terra as the boy no-one believes. I look forward to his role in the upcoming DareDevil movie as a young Matt Murdoch.

Director Ellory Elkayem whom has previously worked with bugs in 'They Nest' keeps the pace sprightly never letting things get bogged down with piffling things like character development. He may have seen 'Tremors' a few times as often I thought of similarities between the two, although that isn't necessarily a bad thing. He seems at home working with special effects and I would think that he won't have a hard time finding a new project to work on.

A Special note goes to John 'The Usual Suspects' Ottman's score. He weaves in various versions of 'itsy bitsy spider' from time to time adding to the wacky flavour of the film. Keep an ear out for an elevator version of 'strangers in the night' during a siege scene in a shopping mall (who said 'Dawn Of The Dead' in the back?).

Eight Legged Freaks is a whole lot of fun and a perfect 'popcorn' movie. Devlin and Emmirich (producers) prove that there is life after 'Godzilla' by collaborating on film that I rate above 'Tremors', but just below 'Gremlins' on the B'movie homage scale. Watch and be entertained for 90mins, what more do you want?


7/10 for Eight Legged Freaks.

Poster Quote - Spiders hate you to