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Friday, October 20, 2017

Eight Legged Freaks (2002)



You know what happens when a truck swerves to avoid a rabbit and dumps a barrel of toxic wasted into a pond? Nothing really. But then the crickets nearby absorb the toxic waste and then nothing happens… Damn no End of the World here. But when a local spider breeder feeds those crickets to his arachnids things get interesting. Those formerly little buggers grow very fast and set their sights on the easiest prey around, the people from the nearby town of Prosperity!

Our hero is an engineer, Chris, who has just returned home after being away for a while. He arrives in the hopes of saving Prosperity by reopening the local gold mine. The same mine his father died working years before. As an added complication, he has unresolved issues with the pretty lady sheriff, played by Kari Wuhrer, and keeps trying to profess his undying love for her. Though that becomes impossible to make time for when they all finally realize that giant spiders are eating the locals! They head to the safest part of town, the mall, to make a final stand. What is it with horror movies and malls?

Let me get the bad out of the way first. This movie was in that batch of early ‘00s flicks that fell in love with what they could do with CGI. Now I remember the first time that I saw Eight Legged Freaks during its theatrical run and I thought the spiders were cool. Fifteen years later the CGI doesn’t hold up well. There are scenes where the creatures don’t match the background. They appear to be faded out and the previously vibrant colors are dull. Also, there are times that the action of the digital creation doesn’t exactly match what is happening on screen. I’m sure that it looked like that the first time I watched the movie and I just didn’t notice.

I still enjoy the heck out of Eight Legged Freaks. The cast is great with Wuhrer and David Arquette in the lead roles. Leon Rippy, who I remember from The Patriot and many other things, makes an excellent villainous mayor. Again, the mayors in horror movies always seem to be jerks. Tom Noonan (Monster Squad) has a small uncredited role as the doomed arachnid breeder that is memorable. Really the guy can just ooze weird when he wants to. And as an added bonus a very young Scarlet Johansson shows up as Wuhrer’s character’s daughter.

Hah Black Widow was in a giant spider movie!
The talent in front of the camera is given a very tightly written script that wastes no time getting to the action. This is a monster movie and the eight legged bastards get to the killing right away. It starts with the towns pets, some ostriches, and finally the people. Along the way we get to see a cartoonish bit with a cat fighting a spider in the walls, some doomed flightless birds going down “Tremors” style, and many humans meeting awful ends. There isn’t any real gore but we do get the comic relief covered in green spider goo on several occasions. That was fun.

This brings me to my final word on Eight Legged Freaks. While I’m not as fond of the CGI as I was when I first watched the movie, it doesn’t take away the fun. Giant spiders are running amok while our characters are spouting off one liners. Movies like this have their place and that place is in my DVD player every October! I recommend this one.



© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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