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Case Number 01841

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Lionsgate // 2001 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 26th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

They have come from another world…to stay.

Opening Statement

In the annals of killer bug movies, I think that the most feared of all creepy crawlies is the eight-legged spider. I don't know about you, but when I see even the smallest of Satan's little minions, I curl up in the fetal position faster than you can say "arachnophobia." In fact, just the other day I was in my parents' basement doing some work when I came across one of those furry spiders that's roughly the size of a Buick and moves just as fast. Needless to say, I immediately lost all bowel control. For those of you with the same problem, maybe you should steer clear of the gooey fang faced mutant-spider-from-another-planet horror movie Arachnid. Produced by Brian Yuzna (Bride Of Re-Animator, The Return of the Living Dead Part 3) and directed by Jack Sholder (Freddy's Revenge: A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies), Arachnid comes crawling to DVD care of Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Did you ever wonder where giant mutant spider come from? Well, if you're lucky enough to see Arachnid, you'll be surprised to discover that they come from outer space! Yes, I was just as surprised as you, as my initial guess would have been Guam.

After a military aircraft runs headlong into an alien ship using a cloaking device, the pilot discovers that the cute lil' E.T. looking creature is actually carrying a parasite that looks suspiciously like earth's own spiders! Flash forward a while later to a group of scientists who are visiting the crash site to investigate a mysterious virus that's killing off the local island tribesmen. This group includes an aggressive black man, an old Greek guy, a young sexy Caucasian women, a Hispanic lady, a tough-as-nails all American hero, and some ethnic tribesmen. Throw in a midget and a one armed gorilla and you've got the staff of your local Tower Records outlet. As fate would have it the chartered plane carrying this cornucopia of characters crashes on the island leaving them to become one big buffet for a pretty nasty spider. As the group snoops through the forest they will come face to face with the deadliest creature ever known to man: Regis Philbin! Or, if his cameo falls through…mutant alien spiders from BEYOND!

The Evidence

Quite a while ago, I reviewed a little movie from Trimark called Spiders (bonus points to the marketing people for the clever title). This movie wasn't great art—in fact, it wasn't even close to being a paint-by-numbers set. The monster movie featured stupid teenagers and really big spiders who enjoyed doing nasty things to people's faces. All in all, it was a fun little horror flick. Unless you hate spiders. Then it's your worst nightmare come true.

There have been many killer spider movies in the past. Aside of Spiders there's Frank Marshall's Arachnophobia, the Stan Winston effects flick Earth vs. the Spider, and coming this summer is the big-budget Eight-Legged Freaks. The only other movie about an eight-legged blood sucking freak that I can recall is The Prince Of Tides, and we all know how THAT turned out.

Arachnid is exactly what you'd expect from a movie about spiders from space: cheesy, derivative and utterly silly. Let's go down the checklist of B-movie clichés included in this film:

• A sexy heroine that gets down to her skivvies at least once (even if it's in a dangerous jungle): check.
• A rag tag group of nobodies who are just along for the ride so the audience can watch 'em die: check.
• Dead bodies that have their heads thrust back, mouths agape and some identifying mark to let us know that THIS is the body the group is looking for: check.
• Scenes of mass destruction filmed so choppily that only the filmmakers know for sure what's going on: check.
• A mean looking monster that drools profusely, screeches like a banshee and won't die even though it's been shot more times than Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. Double check

Yes, Arachnid has all of these things and more. The characters are all paper thin. The effects are mediocre at best. The spider itself appears to be a leftover relic from some 1980s horror movie starring Sybil Danning and Shannon Tweed. The story is one that's been told millions upon millions upon millions…upon millions of times before in B-movies. Take some people, throw them in with a monster and watch the mayhem blossom.

Your enjoyment of this film will rest solely on how much you have to drink. For your convenience, I've put together a handy chart to help you out:

2 Beers = mild fun
4 Beers = you'll get the giggles
6 Beers and a wine cooler = uncontrollable laughter followed by flatulence
9 Beers and a shot of tequila = you accidentally shove the DVD remote up your nose and pass out

Arachnid is presented in what appears to be 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The package makes no mention of the aspect ratio, but my TV shows it to be 1.85:1—and the good news is it's definitely enhanced for 16:9 TVs. Lions Gate has done a surprisingly good job at making sure that this fairly low-budget bug flick looks better than average. While I spotted a few instances of edge enhancement and grain, they are thankfully kept to the bare minimum. Overall, the colors appeared bright and solid with the black levels well saturated.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Again, Lions Gate has done a fine job of producing an aggressive soundtrack that works well within the confines of the film. The surround feature is used often, especially when gunfire, bongo music, or screaming comes into play. While this isn't an A-level Hollywood soundtrack, it's certainly better than expected. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.

The extra features on Arachnid are kept to a bare minimum: a few measly theatrical trailers located under the "Lions Gate" logo in the corner of the main menu.

Closing Statement

Mutant spiders. Special effects on par with Fraggle Rock. Two actors who get half naked in the jungle. It's no Citizen Kane, but it'll do.

The Verdict

Ask me later after the hangover wears off.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 87
Extras: 25
Acting: 70
Story: 70
Judgment: 72

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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