Eight Legged Freaks

From time to time, people tell me how lucky I am to be a film reviewer. They mention how I get to see all the movies early, and do not have to buy tickets and stand in lines. While this is very true and I am grateful for it, there are times when it is hard work, and that I am grateful to the University of Washington for the gifted and talented instructors that I studied film under on my way to my major in International Studies and my education that lead to my Masters Degree.

I am not asking for sympathy, but imagine how it can be when you see a movie the night prior and later that evening or the next day, you are putting your thoughts and ideas to word, which is no easy task as my mind has already written the review and I am forced to probe the ID, Ego, and Superego made famous by Freud to translate thoughts into word, and get a story ready for publication.

As you may have guessed, when a critic likes a film it is often easier to write the review. I know of people who tell me they do not listen to most critics, as they seem to hate everything. While I cant speak for my peers, I can tell you this, I find doing negative reviews to be a far greater task, as aside from the summary and reaction to the film, I need to go into detail as to why I did not like something, or why something did not work, and that is why some reviewers dread going to some films and some in the interest of time, simply don’t review a film such as the dismal “Halloween Resurrection”. I digress as I am about to give a review for a film that in many ways, could be one of the most difficult I have had to write in my years as a reviewer, (note I did not say critic).
The film in question is “Eight Legged Freaks’ and is the product of producers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich who brought viewers “Stargate” ID4” and the woeful “Godzilla”.

The story of the film centers around a desolate town named Prosperity Arizona that is about to go belly up due to the mine running dry, and a very depressed local economy. The mayor of the town (Leon Rippy) is trying to convince people to sell to a buyer and move. The fact that the buyer wants to dump chemicals in the mine and that they are working with the mayor is hidden from the locals, as the lure of money is a strong incentive to the mayor whose ostrich farm and a mall built to save the town are failing.
A recent accident has caused a barrel of waste to dump into a local watering hole and while annoying, is a distraction for the local sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), and her son Mike (Scott Terra) from the dreary life they lead. Unbeknownst to the populace, the spill has affected the local bug population, and has caused the spiders that feed on them to grow very large and dangerous. The plot then shifts back to the town as the late mine owner’s son Chris (David Arquette), has returned home after ten years and informs the mayor that the mine is not for sale. It seems Chris left town ten years ago after beating up the now ex-husband of Sheriff Parker when he found him cheating on his wife and kids. Chris has admired her from afar for years.

The plot is very basic and before long, hordes of giant spiders are attacking the pets and population of the town as their appetites grow in proportion to their size. The local conspiracy nut Harlan, (Doug E.Doug), is convinced the spiders are the result of an alien invasion, but soon decides like most of the town, that regardless of where they are from, the spiders are very deadly, and they soon find themselves battling for their very survival.
There is not a lot more that I can write about this film, as viewers have seen it all before many times in countless B and Z grade movies over the generations. The plot is very basic, there is nothing new here, and the characters are stereotypical and lacking depth, and there is no real star in the films cast and the FX are average at best. That being said, this is where my quandary lies. Were the creators of the film trying to do homage to the drive in classics of yesteryear and create a B grade monster flick for the modern age, or is this really a bad film? If you look at it as a movie and for what it offers, it is a bad film. However, if you take it as a tongue in check nod to the guilty pleasure movies of yesteryear then the film succeeds and is a delight to those who grew up on the giant creature film. I took it as the latter and as such “Eight Legged Freaks” is a fun if very forgettable distraction and a popcorn muncher. If you go in expecting to see anything but a modern z-grade film you will be sadly disappointed. This is the type of film that when its released on vide and DVD, could easily inspire a new wave of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” at home as it was rife for some good natured ribbing, and who among us has not sat with friends and ribbed a movie at home? That being said, I will suggest this film for die hard fans of the genre only and suggest that the rest of you either pass upon this one or save it for a lazy day at home.

3 stars out of 5