Trimark // 2000 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 22nd, 2001
Un Sage Mein Doinken über! (or "Excuse me, but there's a mutant spider in my shorts!")
After a string of Anaconda imitations, including Shark Attack, Crocodile and Python, you'd have thought that these low-budget horror flicks would have sucked the life out of any and all other incarnations of this theme.
I, of course, stand corrected.
Now comes the B-movie extravaganza Spiders...
The tingle of fear!
The sensation of horror!
The cheapness of CGI!
Yes, it's all here in one explosively desperate film that actually transcends itself to become entertaining!
Killer spiders from hell terrorize small town! Who'da thunk it?
Spiders opens with the beginning of a new space program. A shuttle has been shot into space containing some astronauts and a large spider named "Mother-In-Law." As the shuttle orbits earth the astronauts start fooling around with "Mother-In-Law," injecting it with alien DNA they've brought on board (six gazillion tax dollars and this is what NASA is working on). As soon as the spider is injected it starts to go koo-koo roo all over the shuttle. Unbelievably, everyone in the ship actually looks surprised when this happens. Contact with the shuttle is suddenly terminated as it goes down over a desert somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
And wouldn't you know it? Right where the shuttle lands there are some nosey, extra attractive teens peeping around the area, led by Marci (Lana Parrilla). Marci is also a writer for a local college newspaper and believes in extra terrestrials. How convenient THAT is to the plot. They spot the shuttle and snoop around until they find all kinds of bodies that look like they were flown in from a Clive Barker movie. Being that these are not the most intelligent teenagers on God's green earth, they decide to hop aboard an army truck and leave with the debris and bodies to a military station somewhere under the earth.
In this station they are privy to watching a spider the size of vacuum cleaner crawl out of a dead man's mouth and create intense havoc. The spider bites a doctor. He sprays an assistant with silk webbing. He starts to eat people whole. In other words, this spider is sorely lacking in people skills. The spider chases everyone all over the place, trying to reach out to the frightened humans, letting them know that he only wants to be "loved."
Needless to say, the spider is able to escape to the outside world where we get to see some of the most eye-popping special effects ever recorded on film. Oops, did I say eye-popping? I meant eye-rolling. Hehe...my bad.
Soon the spider is 30 feet high and making a nuisance of himself all over town. Now it's up to Marci and her FBI pals to stop this creature before the whole world bows down to the evil that is known as...
BATTLEFIELD EAR --
...uh, I mean...SPIDERS!
Once again I side with a film no one else wants to love. I realize that many people out there who rent this are going to think, "Patrick said it was good. It's fairly obvious he sniffs coffee grounds hourly." They would be correct on both counts. Spiders is not a good movie in the traditional sense of the word. Spiders is good in a vastly different way. It's like watching your little brother squirt chocolate milk out of his nose after he has a good laugh. Gross? Yes. Nauseating? Somewhat. But after it's done you feel like you're a better person because of it. I had the same feelings after viewing Spiders.
I have always been a fan of what I like to call "small monster" movies. This entails A.) being enclosed in a small space for at least part of the film (i.e., an office or a hospital) and B.) a monster that is usually the product of bio-waste, ectoplasmic goo, or outer space contamination. These films are always fun because...well, because I am a sick individual. I derive intense pleasure from watching a large insect chew and gargle on a man's spleen. I need therapy. I'm the first to admit it.
The performances in Spiders are about on par with what you'd expect from a film called Spiders. Everyone acts like they were hand picked from a local community college at a base salary to perform in the movie. The only stand out is Lana Parrilla (Marci), who has gusto to spare (and can now be seen as a regular on the ABC show "Spin City"). Nonetheless, I wasn't watching Spiders to see the next Marlin Brando (or even Clint Howard). No, I was watching to see giant arachnids spurting big bulbs of silk out their butts.
The spiders range from fairly well done to most obviously computer generated. The effects team of KNB EFX (special effects guys on A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors and Wishmaster) do a good job most of the time with the mechanical-based beasties. Once CGI enters the picture, however, we start to roll downhill faster than those two fat motorcycle twins in the Guinness Book Of World Records. The spiders don't look horrible, the just look...cheesy. Though when the time came for these computer spiders to make their entrance, I wasn't disappointed or disillusioned. No, I knew full well what to expect when I stepped up to watch Spiders.
Spiders is presented in anamorphic 1:85.1 and, for a movie that cost probably around the same as my weekly allowance from 1984, looks pretty good. There was hardly any grain spotted, and digital artifacting was not present. Colors were bold and bright, blacks solid. This won't win any awards (there were a few spots where I spotted some color muting), but Spiders has been given a nice transfer from Trimark.
Audio is equally as good as the visual elements. With a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix, Spiders sounds much better than your average Z-grade horror flick. All elements were mixed well with rear speakers being used more than you'd think (and my thoughts would have been "none"). Bass was thick, dialogue clear of hiss, and music/effects blended nicely.
Spiders also includes a "making of" documentary. Included are interviews with the cast and crew, including star Parrilla, director Gary B. Jones (who also did the equally thrilling Mosquito), and producer Boaz "I put up my own cash for this?" Davidson. Everyone talks about how fun it was to make the film, and what high hopes they have for it. Just once I'd like to see a documentary where the filmmakers say exactly what you know they're thinking, basically "we're making a cheesy sci-fi/horror flick that we're PRAYING brings in at least over $200 in revenue. If not we're all back to being boom operators on porn films."
I will stand as the lone gunman for this film. I know that the majority of film buffs will find this to be complete drivel. But I argue that, sometimes, you just get in the mood to see a giant computerized bug climb a sports arena and squirt webbing at passing helicopters.
As for the bad things about Spiders...well, I think that's all fairly obvious. Amateur actors, cheap budget, ludicrous effects...ah, I love the smell of cheddar in the morning!
I don't know as I can say that Spiders is the best purchase when you're tooling along in Best Buy or Circuit City, but as a rental I found it to be loads of mindless, goofy fun. Come on, like the idea of a giant, colorful spider chompin' on pedestrians doesn't sound like a halfway good time? Am I alone on this, people?? Huh?
Innocent on account of the fact that any filmmakers that try and make a movie about mutant spiders are good news in my book. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* The Making Of Spiders