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Friday, September 27, 2019

Arachnia (2003)




A low budget monster movie with giant spider creatures is right in my wheelhouse. I love movies like this, so when it popped up on one of the streaming services I use it rose to the top of my list to watch. I’m also a fan of the director, Brett Piper. Time to check out Arachnia.

An archaeologist and some students are on their way to Arizona in a small plane to check out a new fossil when they encounter a meteor storm that forces the plane down. They all survive the crash only to be found by a shotgun toting farmer. Eventually he agrees to drive them to town the next morning. This delay becomes very important because the meteor has opened up a cave where a nest of giant spiders live. Now that they are free, they go looking for victims, which leads them to the characters. People meet grisly ends, the house is laid siege to, and the air force is called in. Typical monster movie stuff.

Piper doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this movie, hitting all the tropes along the way. The hero saves the day, the coward dies, the villainous scientist guy gets people killed, and the cute girl gets naked. That last one only applies to monster movies made in the seventies or later, but it still counts! The pacing is quick and goes from plane crash to giant spider attack fast enough to keep you distracted from the obvious plot holes. Though I have to point out it was genius when the hero wishes they had a way to reach the outside world only for every other character to hand him a cell phone. Why didn’t they use those earlier? The fact that the movie pointed it out on its own made me laugh and not overthink it.

The Spiders are fun
The actors are okay. I honestly don’t have very high standards when it comes to casting in these low budget monster movies. Again, the pacing is good, and it never feels boring or slow. They did a great job finding the locations of the old farm house, cabin, and cave where most of the movie takes place. Remember my one big rule for making an independent movie on a low budget, shoot what you can afford. The monster spiders are brought to life on screen thru a combination of puppetry and stop motion animation. This old school approach was a welcome change from the CGI crapfests that we normally see in newer monster movies. Sure, the stop motion looks cheesy, but I like it that way.

While it does a good job staying within the budget Arachnia does reach a bit too far with the inclusion of Helicopters and jet planes attacking the spiders in the big finale. The stock footage and really bad CGI of a helicopter sitting on the ground wasn’t how I hoped they would end it. There are a couple of shots where you can see the actors bleeding thru where the digitally inserted object is supposed to be. It gives Arachnia an unfinished feeling.

I can’t say that this is a good movie. It’s not very original and has some silly moments. Though I think this is what they were going for, so it was successful. Not everything has to be art and sometimes you can make a goofy movie for a particular audience. I love monster movies, and this is an entertaining one. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but it was fun.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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