|Eight Legged Freaks is the type of monster movie that could have been made in the 1950's, but is right at home in 2002. The story quite resembles one of those famous science fiction monster movies from half a century ago, but none of the spiders in this film look like something you could make with paper mache and some glue. From the moment they appear on the screen, the spiders are the true stars of this picture. The computer generated effects for the arachnids make the giant spiders seem absolutely real. And the foley department should be congratulated on making some very creative decisions on how giant spiders would sound.|
Making the stamping of the "jumping spiders" sound like the footfalls of a Godzilla monster was pure genius. After seeing those spiders jump around with their booming and stamping around, that one sound is enough to make the audience jump. There are many touches to the creepy members of this cast that make it easy to think that they could really exist. Even when the spiders come into contact with humans, very seldom was it obvious that they're not real. For a film that, from its theatrical trailers, looks like nothing more than a glorified science fiction channel original movie, this movie is a surprise. It begs the question of whether the filmmakers should have constructed those trailers differently.
Much of the screen time in the trailer is taken up with the strange face of David Arquette screaming at thousands of hording giant spiders. And the title of the film more resembles a direct-to-video movie than something that needs to be seen on the big screen. And in point of fact, this film is definitely one that should be seen in the dark, and in the theater as well. Those giant spiders probably won't make the same type of impact on the small screen as they have on a theater screen that makes them look like they're actually seven feet tall. A theater experience should be a requirement for this film.
But the movie isn't just a special effects bonanza. There is actually a story in the film, and a good set of characters who share the screen well with the computer generated beasts. Although the film has the ability to make anybody shiver in their seat, some parts of it are nothing if not cheesy, but fortunately, the story never stops long enough to let the audience ponder the reality of giant spiders. Every scene in the film has a purpose and the story is always moving forward. There are no dead spots in this film. There is a good amount of character focus, but there is not a great deal of downtime either. The film has a great balance between scenes where people are chased by spiders and scenes where people talk about how to beat the spiders.
And those people are played by a better than average cast. Although David Arquette has made a name for himself as the horribly annoying pitchman on a series of commercials, nowhere in this film does his performance become over the top. He fit in well with the cast and it's a credit to his abilities that he can deliver his role without getting too carried away. There are several additional co-starring roles in this film which make the picture well rounded in the casting department. Kari Wuhrer, Scarlett Johansson and Scott Terra make a convincing case as a mother and her two young children and Kari and Scarlett even resemble one another. Doug E. Doug has the funniest role in the film, as a paranoid conspiracy theorist who thinks the government is hiding alien landings from the American public. He has many of the funny lines in the film and his delivery is right on target.
Most importantly, this film is a fun experience. There is a lot of comedy in it and it walks well the fine line between cheesy monster movie and exciting action film. As a homage to the monster films of the 1950's, this film is more than a success. It is a film that can entertain multiple age groups. It is well made and, probably more importantly, intelligently constructed. There is no confusing this picture with a low-budget horror film. For a movie that did not receive a fifty million dollar advertising budget, this movie is something probably only the adventurous type will see in the theater. But for those audience members who wander into the theater for this film, they will come out knowing they have spent their money well.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.