Director: Frank Marshall
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Julian Sands, Harley Jane Kozak, John Goodman .USA. 1h 43m
It seems so odd writing a review for this so many years after watching it, but the fact that the film is still one of my favourites is a testament to it’s amazing ability to thrill and entertain, but this is coming from an old timer who’s love of horror will never die and when a new golden age of creature features was descending upon us.
I never quite knew how to take the film when I first saw it, being caught up in psychological and graphics stories from the likes of Stephen King and Clive Barker, seeing robots and giant monsters ripping people apart in the darkness, then this family film is released that started freaking people out. The film is still classed as PG but if you actually have a fear of spiders then it’s cinch.
Eight Legs, Two Fangs and at attitude.
I don’t have a phobia of spiders, I’m weary of them, especially with the rise of false widows and all sorts of horror stories, which this film didn’t help! What I really adore is the level of comedy (not too much, you know how I loathe it) and it’s ability to create this feeling that there is something crawling right next to you.
The film starts innocently enough, a team are exploring the amazon, and after deploying some smoke they start collecting a ton of insects, the team is headed by Doctor James Atherton (Sands) and strangely enough the Collector is present and an active member of the team, look out for him… after finding many rare and new species, a particular breed of spider makes itself centre focus from it’s unusual size, and after being transported back to the USA in an unsuspecting corpse it does some nesting in the home of a new resident doctor who, unsurprisingly has acute arachnophobia. We just wouldn’t have a film otherwise. After lots of fumbling around the new doctor (Daniels) and his family start noticing lots of deaths in his new town, but it takes ages before they are taken seriously, bodies get exhumed and he, along with a specialist or two are on the case.
With the cute soundtrack and comedic characters such as John Goodman who is a know it all pest exterminator, who meanders and mumbles his way through the movie. It’s really hard to call this horror, ultimately it’s only terrifying to those who aren’t likely going to watch it as they do actually have the specified phobia.
Marshall is an expert producer and it goes to show that his influence and experienced paid off here, but this all outshone his directorial mishaps, but even as a debut this is still outstanding work, long time buddy Spielberg had some input which is evident with the general upbeat feel of the film. If it has a different influence this could have been way more terrifying and do for spiders what Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds (1963) did for … well birds.. When it’s all said and done there are plenty of scary horrors out there that enforce our fears of spiders, but this entertains and slightly parodies that fear, but does offer up some great suspense instead.
Rating – 7/10
R – Tremors (1990), Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
L – Phobia films
A – Filming Phobias