EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS
Mining engineer Chris McCormick (David Arquette) returns to his bankrupt hometown of Prosperity, Arizona, still convinced there is a mother lode of silver to be discovered in his family's abandoned mines. Meanwhile, a barrel
of toxic waste falls from a passing truck into a lake near a spider farm just outside Prosperity. Soon the town is overrun by thousands of giant spiders with a hunger for human flesh. With the help of his former girlfriend, Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), who is now the town sheriff, Chris mobilises Prosperity's citizens against the onslaught of the eight legged freaks.
Review by Louise Keller:
Remember that tune Itsy Bitsy Spider? The one about the spider that climbed up the water spout? I guarantee after you’ve seen this fun sci-fi creature feature, you’ll be humming Joey De Luxe’s throaty rendition, which is presented over the closing credits. A fitting closing to the film by New Zealand director/writer Ellory Elkayem, which originated as a 13 minute black and white short. Entertaining escapism, Eight Legged Freaks is a blast of a creature feature that’s just blatant good fun. The key to its delights is the mix of drama, suspense, camp humour and special effects. And the effects are terrific – realistic enough to keep us on edge, but over-the-top as you would expect. It starts innocently enough with a young boy obsessed by spiders, and the first smiles come when we meet the spider collector’s talking parrot, who has learnt to say ‘I see dead people’. Of course, the parrot is not the only one to see dead people, and victims of the giant eight legged freaks become wrapped mummy-like in cocoon-like webs. In these early scenes, those with genuine fear of spiders will feel the back of their necks crawl, but as the arachnids become monsters with green slime oozing, it’s easier to sit back and enjoy the trip. Apart from the giant spider invasion, there’s an engaging central love story as well as side plots involving a corrupt mayor, a search for gold and a paranoid Afro American radio announcer, whose animated narration begins and ends the proceedings. It’s a strong cast with plenty of appeal: David Arquette’s tongue-tied anti-hero, Kari Wuhrer’s sexy sheriff, Scarlett Johansson’s rebellious daughter and Scott Terra who plays the pivotal role as the young boy who knows more than anyone else. Everyone plays it for real, and it’s easy to suspend belief and enjoy the ride. Terrific effects with CGI and miniatures blending seamlessly and the music score is both exciting and playful. There are a few terrifying moments, but mostly it’s a hoot: a compelling combination of terror and fun.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
Lovers of monster movies haven't had much to cheer about in the last fifteen years. For my money, there have been only three good ones: Tremors (1990), Lake Placid (1999) and now Eight Legged Freaks. After rolling out the trusty old 'radiocative barrel in the lake' routine, Eight Legged Freaks flips through the pages of the monster movie manual - written in the 50s by classics such as Them and Tarantula - and doesn't miss a trick. This is not a parody of the genre; that would be too easy. Made by people who clearly know and love their drive-in movies of yesteryear, this is an affectionate tribute to films that may not have had big budgets or convincing special effects but had more energy and entertainment value than most of their A-grade competition. Such is the case here - I loved the frequently dodgy effects as ten foot spiders hopped around town and I liked the characters written by Jesse Alexander and director Ellory Elkayem. The zesty cast helps. David Arquette, whose chin alone guarantees him work in horror movies forever, plays it just right as the reluctant hero, Kari Wuhrer is a spunky (in the old-fashioned and modern sense of the word) sheriff, Doug E Doug adds a fun note as a conspiracy obsessed DJ and Eileen Ryan is a scream as ciggy-puffing, straight-talking battle-axe Gladys, for whom a giant spider invasion is just another bad day in Prosperity. Eight Legged Freaks delivers ten times the entertainment value of overproduced turkeys like Godzilla - and on about a quarter of the budget to boot. Great fun.
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EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (M)
CAST: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug
PRODUCER: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
DIRECTOR: Ellory Elkayem
SCRIPT: Ellory Elkayem, Jesse Alexander (Story by Ellory Elkayem, Randy Kornfield )
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John S. Bartley
EDITOR: David Siegel
MUSIC: John Ottman (additional cues Rich Ragdale)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Charles Breen
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 26, 2002