Eight Legged Freaks
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
let the squashing begin With a serious Attack of the Killer Tomatoes vibe, director-cowriter Elkayem and the producers of Independence Day obviously had a great time making this cheesy giant-spider thriller. Every mutant-monster-movie cliche is here: remote Arizona town; bad boy (Arquette) home after years in the big city; sexy ex-flame sheriff (Wuhrer) raising two kids on her own--a nerdy insect-expert son (Terra) and a daughter (Johansson) rebelliously dating a motorbike-riding hunk (Czuchry); money-grubbing land developer (Rippy) putting the town in danger in more ways than one; gonzo pirate radio announcer (Doug); and of course colossal spiders everywhere. As the posters shout: "Let the squashing begin!"

The plot needs no explanation, as you've seen it a million times. But the screenwriters have such fun tweaking all the signposts that you can't help but giggle at it all. They also continually go for laughs amid the carnage and mayhem, and for the most part it works. The silly story isn't remotely coherent, but you can't exactly criticise a film like this for being illogical, can you? The actors give their all, running, screaming, shooting and stomping like mad, without a moment of wink-wink parody, which makes it all the more effective as a spoof along the lines of Mars Attacks. What the film lacks in directoral skill (it seems a bit flat and timid) is more than made up for in post-production; the special effects are absolutely fantastic ... and startlingly realistic! This is not a film for someone suffering from arachnophobia. Unless of course they go see the film with someone they want to squeeze the life out of.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 16.Jul.02

dir Ellory Elkayem
scr Jesse Alexander, Ellory Elkayem
with David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E Doug, Rick Overton, Leon Rippy, Matt Czuchry, Jay Arlen Jones, Eileen Ryan, Riley Smith, Jane Edith Wilson
release UK 16.Aug.02; US 19.Jul.02
02/US 1h39

Spider hunters. The gang stupidly head deep into the arachnid's lair. I mean, honestly!

arquette johansson

ONE PEDANTIC NIGGLE: Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the typo in the title? As written, it refers to eight freaks with legs. Hmmm. It should be Eight-Legged Freaks, unless the filmmakers meant to do that. --Ed.

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall