Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Alright everybody! We’re going into  his review with the following information: I am an arachnophobe. I practice this talent every Spring and Summer, and I’m really good at panic attacks, expert at searching parking garage  ceilings for spiderwebs, and freaking the hell out, when a spider is large enough for me to see it with my naked eyeballs.

Neverthelsess, I do watch movies about spiders. I don’t seem to have a problem with really, really giant spiders. In fact, there’s no fear, the larger, and furrier, the spider is. (Tarantulas are kinda cool. ) Apparently it’s only spiders of a certain size that I don’t like. That said, I really enjoyed Eight Legged Freaks. It combines two of my favorite topics, chills and laughs, and does a pretty good job. Basically, you can watch this movie, even if you’re scared of spiders.

Eight Legged Freaks was released at a time when a lot of these types of movies weren’t being put out by Hollywood. It’s an old school Comedy-Horror mashup, like Critters, or Tremors,  with the emphasis on the comedy, even though it does have creepy moments. It has the usual plot of most monster movies ,with a surprising amount of emotion added, which I wasn’t expecting, but then you have to take that with a grain of salt, because I’m a huge crybaby at movies. (I will cry, if anybody on screen is crying, basically.) I was not disposed to watch any movie with David Arquette because: one, I didn’t think he was very funny, and: two, his sister is a mindless boobyhead, and I like to hold him responsible for that. But actually, he’s not bad in this movie, and I got quite a few laughs at his “over the top” reactions to the spiders, although it’s hard to say the reaction is over the top, when it’s giant spiders.

The whole cast is kind of a surprise, and are pretty funny. Most of them play it straight but get good lines, while others are clearly comedic relief. Scarlett Johansson is here, and she’s not bad, as the local Sheriff’s daughter, who is played by Kari Wuhrer, whom I’ve been holding a grudge against since she messed up in the show Sliders, Eileen Ryan who was a real delight, and  Doug E. Doug, who is hilarious, as a conspiracy theorizing DJ, who knows he’s been abducted by extraterrestrials. He gets the best lines and screams in the entire movie.

I don’t think I can list all the funny moments in this movie, most of which I didn’t see coming. The spiders squeal and yell in high pitched voices when they get blown up, there’s a knockdown, drag out fight between a cat and a dog sized spider, which happens entirely through sounds through a wall, and there’s the various puns and one-liners spouted by the cast, which are awful, but still kinda funny. I also wasn’t expecting the spiders to have personalities too. I actually thought they were totally adorkable knuckleheads, who killed and ate people, squeaked out words when they got hurt, and coordinated their attacks with  leg gestures, as if they were military units. This seemed to tickle my juvenile funny bone, and I wasn’t as scared of these spiders, as I was of the ones in Arachnophobia, but then those guys had no sense of humor. 

My niece and I had a grand ol’ time laughing really hard at this movie. There’s also a Queen spider, whose name I forget. I think it’s Consuela, which is a strange name for a giant spider, but she’s a lot more frightening than the Tarantula, even though she’s a lot smaller than that tank-like creature. One of the funniest moments is when Arquette’s character, on the advice of a little boy expert on spiders, spritzes her in the eyes,  with a tiny bottle of perfume. And it works! She just backs off, sneezing uncontrollably. 

 The tarantula was awesome, and the other spiders used it as a battering ram, which was all kinds of cool to watch. He’s like a big, dumb,brute from a hardboiled crime novel. The Muscle! There’s also more than a few disgusting,  and scary moments, which is to be expected, in a movie about giant arachnids, like the scene where a guy swallows a mouthful of baby spiders, and the sight of running people getting jumped on, or snatched underground, by dog sized spiders. But the writers were very clever to make these moments pretty funny, and not TOO scary, by having the spiders punch their  struggling prey into submission, while making boxing noises, and slamming into windows, because they hadn’t figured those out yet.

Arquette’s character comes back home to Prosperity, Arizona, which is on its last legs, ever since it’s  mines tapped out. His father owned them and insisted there was gold there. When the spiders get dosed with toxic waste (well actually they eat contaminated crickets), they grow larger, eat their keeper, and descend into the mines, where they begin preying on the local animal population. The local bigwig, Wade, believes there’s money in Ostrich farming and is so optimistic, he builds a mall, but his ostriches all get eaten by the spiders, and as the spiders attack the town, everyone holes up at the mall for protection, and later, work their way into the mines. You think Wade is going to be the big asshole of the movie, but Wade actually turns out okay, and lives to the end of the movie. He’s never likable, but he’s also not outright evil. Neither is his son, who tries, at one point, to sexually assault Johansson’s character, but changes his ways, after she tases him, he pisses his pants, and she throws him out of the car. Later, he does some heroic redeeming type stuff, to make up for being a shite, earlier in the movie, I guess.

It’s a happy ending, and we get to root for these characters, along the way, especially Harlan, the terrified but brave DJ, and Chris and the sheriff, who renew their old flame. I’ve never been a fan of Kari, but she did so well in this movie, I can get behind her as a character, even if I can’t forgive her for being so awful in Sliders. The spiders are as much characters, in the film, as the people, and I had my favorites.  There are tarantulas, orb weavers, trapdoor spiders, which were pretty scary, and jumping spiders, which are tiny cute little things in real life, but less so, grown to enormous size. Still, they’re the funniest ones in the movie, creating a proper excuse for why nobody’s cell phones work.

I watched this movie with my Mom, and she seemed to like it although she thought the spiders talking was too much. Her tolerance for silly isn’t quite as high as mine, I guess. Nevertheless, it continues to be one of her favorite spider movies, (and I love her for that, even though she tried for years to get me to sit down and watch Arachnophobia, when she knew I was too scared of the spiders to watch it. I still hate that movie.)
If you have a low tolerance for gore and scares, then Eight Legged Freaks is the perfect movie for Halloween night. Yes, your kids can watch it, the female characters are treated with all due respect, and the language is pretty mild.

 And guess what? The Black guy lives all the way to the end of the movie.

2 thoughts on “Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

  1. Pingback: Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 4 (2001-2010) – Geeking Out about It

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