When animal horror rears its ugly head in movies, it’s either Asylum doing bad CGI and acting or some actually scary and tense horror delivered by real creatures. Still, if one tries to add comedy to proceedings, the end result can be some fun entertainment for the Halloween season.
So let’s dip into some of the good, bad, weird and ugly with reviews of Arachnophobia, Eight Legged Freaks and Camel Spiders.
(USA 1990, director: Frank Marshall)
Small spiders attack a small town.
What a lot of creature features don’t get right is the build-up of tension. Sometimes it just takes too long before the carnage begins, boring the audience with uninteresting characters and changes of scenery, even if there isn’t much else than a government experiment gone wrong. Arachnophobia is a perfect example of how to do it very right with characters one really cares for and a not-so-far-removed-from-reality plot (dangerous new species brought accidentally to US shores).
There are not only a couple of genuinely scary moments which play with the audience’s expectation and disgust of the eight-legged real critters, but there are also a lot of very funny scenes as well, which is in no small part due to the small town characters and one very weird exterminator played by John Goodman.
With many memorable scenes, a good mixture of horror and comedy, this is simply the perfect creature feature movie, even if it doesn’t try anything new with the overall structure of animal horror flicks.
Eight Legged Freaks
(USA 2002, director: Ellory Elkayem)
Big spiders attack a small town.
There are surely better-made movies and this is certainly not a classic, but it’s entertaining enough with quite a lot of action, even if it means waiting a bit before this happens. Could have done without a lot of dialogue and character interaction, as the whole relationship concept doesn’t work so well (just look at Infestation which achieves it in less runtime and with more originality).
The only really annoying bits are the spiders’ Gremlins-like communication sounds and some slapstick scenes. Add a happy-happy-soundtrack, and it grinds a bit on the nerves. It doesn’t need to be a terrifying score or even have a lot of horror, but still sometimes less is more than enough for the audience to get it.
Funny thing that this got an alternative title in Germany which sounds much more fun than the actual movie tries to deliver: “Arac Attack”.
(USA 2011, director: Jim Wynorski)
Giant spiders attack after accidentally being brought home from US soldiers.
Roger Corman presenting a movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good B-movie. It’s weird, but with so much action going on and quite a lot of blood spurting when the spiders attack people, it all feels so boring. This is probably because of no characters to sympathize with, no suspense and the lack of humor.
Like the Asylum flicks, it’s commonplace to have Michael-Bay long camera shots and orchestra music which both don’t really fit the scenes. But at least those movies had some memorable, even if silly, moments. This one doesn’t have them, and there are just way better B-movies with spiders (big and small) out there than this borefest. Don’t let that BD cover deceive you, there’s less action and excitement than it propagates, and even less horror than the US BD cover shows.
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