"Eight Legged Freaks" is a four-star movie but five-star fun, especially for those with fond memories of 1950s Sci Fi B-Movies at the drive-in. "Eight Legged Freaks" is everything "Mars Attacks" was not, namely, funny and scary. This is a film that knows its cinematic roots and embraces them whole-heartedly. Take all those spiders in "Arachnophobia," with as many different types as there were monsters bugs in "Starship Troopers," give them some toxic waste in the great tradition of "The Toxic Avenger" so they grow as big as the ants in "Them!" rather than the tarantula in "Tarantula," put it in a southwestern town like in "Tremors," have a paranoid guy warning about alien invasions like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," have humanity make a last ditched stand in a mall similar to "Dawn of the Dead" before they end up cocooned like in "Alien," and make David Arquette the hero like in "Scream."
Arquette is the big name in the film but he really does seem a bit out of his element (i.e., playing it for laughs when everybody else is doing it straight). He plays Chris McCormack, who returns home to the town of Prosperity, Arizona, just as the town is going down for the last time. The mayor (Leon Rippy) is a schmuck who has failed with a mall and an ostrich farm and now wants to sell the town to a company that will use the abandoned mines as a toxic waste cite. But Chris still believes his father's claim there was a vein of gold in that thar mine. However, this all becomes moot outside of town there is a crazy old coot (Tom Noonan) who studies spiders. Through a nice series of events a drum of toxic waste is spilled and eaten by grasshoppers, which are then eaten by spiders with predictable results in terms of 1950s Science Fiction films and 1960s Marvel comics. Fortunately young Mike Parker (Scott Terra), the son of the world's most beautiful sheriff, Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), knows everything there is to know about all the different types of spiders that are starting to make their presence known as they work there way up the food chain from grasshoppers to cats, ostriches, and dirt bikers. The question is whether anybody will listen to the kid in time...
Director Ellory Elkayem parlayed his 1997 short subject "Larger Than Life" into this gig, showing an ability to put in the comic touches (e.g., the music for "Ittsy Bitsy Spider" sounds ominously as a giant tarantula makes its way along the street) along with the special effects creepiness in equal measure (e.g., the hopping spiders). There are so many scenes where you will have to choose between laughing and screaming but will probably end up doing both almost at the same time. Obviously this film is grounded in the Fifties in terms of the monsters and their origins, but it has modern sensibilities. This is not only in terms of the computer effects that generate the many varieties of spiders, but also the characters, as when both the beautiful sheriff and her sharp daughter, Ashley (Scarlett Johansson), have more brains and nerve than all the guys in town. The middle part of the film, where the spiders pretty much have their own way until the humans get up to speak, is the best part. You come out of "Eight Legged Freaks" arguing about which was your favorite bit involving a spider claiming a victim. This is such a fun monster movie that people who do not like monster movies might find themselves liking this one simply because there is a joy behind all the death and destruction that catches you up early on in the film and takes you along for the ride.
on February 4, 2003
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS was not well received by the critics and it did poorly at the box office--and frankly I'm surprised. Obviously we're not talking about "deep meanings" in reference to this film, but what it does, it does extremely well: part hommage, part spoof, part horror, part comedy, and all of it a tremendous amount of fun! The film is essentially the classic 1950s "big bug" movie brought up to date and given a comic spin. A truck driver skids on the road and accidentally releases toxic chemicals into a pond; unfortunately, an "exotic spider farm" happens to be nearby, and when the spiders are contaminated by the chemicals they explode into creatures of monstrous proportions, nasty dispositions, and insatiable appetites. Cats, dogs, and even the occasional ostrich goes missing--can human victims be far behind?
The cast plays expertly, and two deserve special mention: Doug E. Doug, who is hilarious as the independent radio station broadcaster obsessed with UFOs, aliens, and government cover-ups, and Eileen Ryan as the chain-smoking, drop-dead-talking Aunt Gladys. But although every one does well with their often-comic characters, the emphasis isn't on the cast: it's on special effects, sight-gags, and a traditional "big bug" plot played at a breakneck speed. It's all smoothly, slickly done, and the special effects are terrific without going into overkill.
Now, the film is rather icky: after all, the spiders jump and bite and slurp, and when the townfolk go after them with everything from guns to pitchforks to chainsaws they also splatter in an appropriately disgusting way. Some viewers will be turned off by the black humor of the piece--particularly as it references the pets that go missing early on in the film. (I admit I winced a bit myself there!) Some viewers may be turned off by the "ick" factor and the violence, of which there is aplenty; others may take issue with the plot itself, which as noted is pretty traditional. But this isn't an Ingmar Bergman or Fellini film we're talking about here, and if you want a modern twist on a classic sci-fi theme, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS is sure to please. The DVD has several extras, some of which are fun as well. On the whole, I give it four big squishes!
on March 2, 2003
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS isn't a horror movie. It's an action/comedy mingled with a touch of horror. I really don't like spiders much and didn't know if I would like this movie or not. However, I loved it. The film is full of comedy and action with just enough violence and suspense to give a person a few shivers.
The movie is a modern update and homage to the classic killer bug movies of the 1950s and 1960s. Toxic waste cause natural predators to grow to tremendous sizes, which in turn leads to them overrunning the town, which of course leads to the ultimate showdown. Besides the big bug movies, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS also pays homage to movies such as DAWN OF THE DEAD, TREMORS, and GREMLINS. The acting is pretty good and the cast seemed to enjoy making the movie. The special effects are pretty impressive with the spiders looking exactly like real spiders. There are a lot of great scenes, e.g. the cat and spider fighting in the wall, and I laughed a lot.
Overall, the film will appeal to a lot of different people, but if you really don't like spiders and can't stand the sight of a little blood and guts, then you probably won't like this movie.
on June 15, 2003
When 8 Legged Freaks first came out, I thought it was pretty stupid mainly because of the idea of giant spiders. Then this movie came on a movie came on a cinemax channel and I decided to watch it to see how it was and I liked it! Before I go on, let me state that this is not a scar movie, it is an action movie. I loved seeing David Arquette and others battling against an invasion of mutated spiders. I especially loved the quote, "GET BACK YOU EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS!". Anyway, here is the movies plot.
An illegal operation of hiding toxic wastes inside mines is being one in a small Arizona town. On one shipment of the toxics, one barrel falls into a swamp and a museum of spiders is right next to the swamp. The spiders one day escape the museum and smtime after they grow to enormous sizes. The only person who starts to realize what may happen is a little boy named Mike Parker (Scott Terra) who is basically a kid that is really into spiders. But it seems that nobody believes cuz he is a kid. Later a guy named Chris (David Arquette) starts to believe what the kid said. Chris is a guy who recently returned to that Arizona town after ten yrs. He returns only to stop the town's mayor from basically selling the whole town's business' so he can get rich and everybody will be unemployed. He is also their because he has always had a crush on Mike's mom, Samantha (Kari Wuhrer ) who happens to be the town's sheriff but Chris is too shy to tell her. Chris starts to believe Mike's theory when he finds something that appears to be a spider leg except that it is about 3 feet long. Soon everbody learns about the giant spiders and now it is up to the town's people to stop these giant before they create havoc around the world.
Anyway this overall was a good movie. It filled with action and has a twist of comedy in it. I'm definitely getting this when it comes out.
on June 9, 2003
Do you like 50's scf-fi flicks about giant mutated insects? If so, then Eight Legged Freaks is for you. In the tradition of THEM!, Eight Legged Freaks is the story of a small town in Arizona that is attacked by giant spiders mutated by toxic waste. The movie benefits from excellent CGI effects as several species of spiders ranging from "jumpers" to tarantulas wreak havoc on the town. The film uses just the right amount of tongue and cheek humor and dark comedy to offset the simplistic story line. While not particularly gory, there are quite a few scenes of the spiders attacking people and animals so it's not for the squeamish. Arachnophobes are guaranteed to get the "willy's".
The picture of the widescreen DVD is crisp and clear. Much of the action takes place at night and no detail is lost on the dark colored spiders against the black background. Good use is made of the Dolby 5.1 track. Listed closely to the sounds the spiders make. It tended to remind me of "Gremlins". Extras on the disc include a commentary track, an alternate ending, and deleted scenes. I would have liked to have seen a feature on the special effects used to create the spiders.
Overall the film is a great example of what 50's sci-fi would look like today. The "shock" factor keeps it from being suitable for very young kids. It is highly recommended for fans of the genre and a must for your creature feature DVD library. Give it a try on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
on June 7, 2003
The 1950s were the golden age of monster movies. We had rebuilt people, atomic praying mantis, ants, grasshoppers, and slugs. Later we even had giant rabbits eating their way through the desert. And of course you don't want to forget the giant Gila monster. In the grand tradition of B-horror movies comes "Eight Legged Freaks".
A truck carrying canisters of toxic waste swerves to avoid a poor innocent bunny rabbit, sending a drum of toxic waste careening into a local watering hole. Once you finish rolling your eyes at how carelessly lethal toxic waste was secured in this truck, we find that the local nut case has dozens of huge spiders in his house, as some sort of spider zoo. Naturally this guy feeds bugs that have absorbed some of the toxic waste to his spiders, which then commence growing to unbelievable proportions. As in all good bug monster movies, the first person to die is always obvious.
Soon the digital spiders are chomping all the neighborhood pets, and start lusting after people as well. In one rather marvelous scene we see larger than life jumping spiders chase down a bunch of nice neighborhood boys trying to escape them on their dirt bikes. We also see an intentionally humorous scene where ostriches are being devoured by trap-door spiders larger than the ostriches, while their owner is clueless as the birds disappear in explosions of feathers. Interestingly enough, he's never looking when a bird gets taken.
This movie is played for laughs, and the general predictability is part of the humor. Even the end of the movie has the kind of "are you kidding me?" kind of ending that we all remember from monster bug movies of the 50s and 60s. Watch this movie for the wonderful digital effects and to relive those wonderfully campy and corny bug movies of yore, or to paraphrase a famous actor, fangs for the memories.
on June 6, 2003
"Eight Legged Freaks" was (and is) an underrated movie, largely because people don't like spiders. And I most certainly don't, so I was a little skeptical about seeng this movie. But quite frankly, the spiders don't freak you out that much, even the real ones. So as long as you're not arachnaphobic or anything like that, you should check out this movie for a good time.
Anyway, this is a good movie. Despite the tired plot (a chemical spill in a lake, a spier farm owner gets crickets for spiders to eat from the lake, the crickets make the spiders grow, the spider get free and terrorize a town, etc.), they still put a fun twist on it by not taking it so seriously like the old giant animal horror movies did. They blend action, comedy, and horror (nothing gruesome though) in to this movie and it suceeds. The spiders actually look real! And there's not that much corny dialogue as you'd expect from it, and the acting's pretty good too. If you're looking for a good movie to watch with a friend, watch this. It's pretty damn good.
on May 12, 2003
I was kind of disappointed in some reviewers in their opinion of this movie. My impression of the movie wasn't that it was supposed to be some big blockbuster, special effects extravaganza, but a homage to the great 'giant bug' movies from the 1950's. In that respect, I think the dircetor and actors did a pretty good job. Another reviewer commented that there wasn't enough gore. Again, if you go back and watch those classics, it wasn't about the gore, but trying to scare the bejesus out of somewhat naive movie viewers. I think the actors did a pretty good job, and I noticed the deleted scenes contained a fair amount of the character development scenes. I am asuuming these scenes were removed in order to make the movie move at a speedier pace, keep the action going. The story involves a town trying to deal with the invasion of giant spiders. The cause of the giant spiders in not atomic radiation, as was the cause for so many terrors back in the 50's, but the accidental release of toxic chemicals in a local water supply. I would have liked to seen this movie take a more serious approach, but I enjoyed the humor. The original movies always had a serious tone, but watching them now, they can seem unintentionally funny. I don't care for so much CGI work in movies, but if it's done well and not used to cover plot holes or lack of stories, then I will accept it. I thought the spiders were done quite well, and I got some genuine creeps out of watching them attack the townspeople. All in all, this was a fun movie that reminded me of those classics I love so much.
on April 16, 2003
The Bottom line- this is a fun movie. it never, ever, takes itself seriously, so if you are expecting a serious film noire than this movie certainly isn't for you. If you like creature features or oddball movies that are fast, frantic and fun, then it ceratinly is. Personally, i enjoyed this movie, and for me, it falls somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, although i'm generous, so i gave it four. This movie is lively, entertaining and un.
Eight legged freaks is a horror-comedy film, that is, a horror that doesn't take itself seriously, and at times the attitude is almost sarcastic. But unlike some other films of it's genre, this film does provide shocks when it needs to, and i certainly would not recommend it to someone who is very arachnophobic. More than most, i personally dislike spiders, so if this film does shock someone, it may be me! Unexpectedly, i didn't have many hair-raising moments, although some scenes made me, and i imagine many others, jump.
Eight legged freaks may be looked down upon by some so- called 'highbrow' film buffs, but to the average film viewer, it should be very enjoyable. On a critical level, eight legged freaks is marked out as a cut above your average horror fare, as it has something most horror films alck, or don't have altogether - character development. Character development is as vital to a film as eight legged freaks as it is to most love stories, and that is because to make the action and suspense scenes thrilling, it is imperative that you have a feeling about the people featured. If you could not care less about the people involled in the story,the film would flop. But realatively speaking, eight legged freaks does have good character development, so the death scenes are all the more thrilling because of it (and believe me, the death scenes come thick and fast!). Eight legged freaks also delivers on the bug set-pieces, and this is also important to the genre. Such development means eight legged freaks is a winner... If you enjoy this sort of thing, than i would highly recommend it, and if you don't, then at least enjoy it for what it is- a welcome addition to the genre.
on December 26, 2002
This 'un raises the bar on "B" movies. It was so horrible I laughed all the way through it!
I think that was the aim on this one (God, I hope so). Along the lines of movies like Tremors, Lake Placid, etc... it's so bad it's good.
The story is a barrel of toxic waste drop into a nearby pond, the guy (Tom Noonan) who catches bugs at that pond feeds them to his spiders and the fun ensues! The spiders grow to the size of horses, and disappear into the mines where the males go forth and bring back alive-and-kicking human beings for the female (who is soemthing like five times the size of the males). I'm not sure exactly why the town wasn't over-run by mutant crickets and stuff as well... but hey, it doesn't have to make sense!
The spiders sound a lot like Donald Duck, and the chase scenes are a riot (Yes, it's a B flick). The "Web effects" were kind a trip, and the characters are memorable.
If you like really bad horror flicks (this one has GOTTA make it "Cult Classic"!), you'll love Eight Legged Freaks!