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Friday, January 12, 2018

Arachnophobia (1990)




Damn I hate spiders. I mean the monsters like in Eight Legged Freaks or Tarantula don’t bother me because they are giant bugs. But the normal sized little bastards send chills up and down my spine. Of course, somehow my wife decided that I was the spider killer in our relationship so… IT SUCKS! But I like movies that scare me so Arachnophobia has always been one that I enjoyed. Though I haven’t watched it in a few years it made its way back onto my list for this past October’s movie marathon.

The movie opens with a photographer joining an expedition in the jungle. They are going to an isolated valley to collect insects and along the way discover a new spider species. One of which hitches a ride back to camp and after killing the photographer gets sent along with his body home to a small California town. There it hooks up with a lady spider and makes babies. Unlike normal spiders they are organized like ants with soldiers that go out and attack! Oh yeah and these normal little spiders are deadly. One bite and you are toast.

Tossed into this is Dr. Jennings, played by Jeff Daniels, who has moved to town to take over for the retiring doctor. Well that was the plan anyway. The old guy decides not to call it quits which leaves Dr. Jennings without patients and no one trusting the “new” guy. When people start to die everyone ignores Jennings because what does he know he is new in town… Eventually they have to pay attention and better yet get in touch with the spider expert Dr. Atherton (Julian Sands playing a good guy!) who also happened to be the leader of the expedition where the photographer died. Toss in a local exterminator, John Goodman in an awesome glorified cameo, and you have the characters together to do battle with the creepy little bastards. Did I mention I hate spiders?

Even if you don’t have an aversion to arachnids this one is still fun. The story is solid and believable. These aren’t giant spiders from space or mutants caused by the A Bomb. What we get here is an invasive species that breeds with local spiders and makes an apex predator that has no natural enemy. Maybe that exact thing hasn’t happened but similar situations have. So, you have a creepy ass horror movie with deadly spiders that isn’t that unfeasible. Let that stew in your noggin’ for a few minutes. Kind of scary no?

Delbert is awesome!
The cast is very good with Jeff Daniels doing most of the heavy lifting. His character is central to the story and everything revolves around him. Luckily the guy can act and has some charisma so he carries the movie without issue. Julian Sands has a small part but is as good as horror fans know he can be. But the best is John Goodman’s exterminator character Delbert. He provides some much-needed comic relief and steals every scene he is in. There are other familiar faces in the cast that I won’t mention other than to say they also do a solid job in their roles.

But let’s talk about the real stars of the movie, the spiders. After some initial big tarantulas, we get mostly small ones. They sneak around the sets, crawl in popcorn (damn you filmmakers!), hang out in cereal bowels, drop in showers and even crawl in the toilette (another nightmare scenario for me!). I was so hoping for a “Ghoulies” kill… But alas I was disappointed. This is one of those movies that doesn’t go for jump scares but maintains a creepy skin crawling feeling throughout most of the runtime. That is pretty awesome. Consider it recommended.



© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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