Do you hate spiders? Do you really hate spiders? Well they don’t like you either.
Chris McCormick (David Arquette), who was a slacker as a teenager and is now an adult mining engineer, returns to his rural mining hometown of Prosperity in financial chaos. His grandfather owned the mining town but the veins dried up (he died claiming he knew where there was a huge vein) and, in order to stay out of bankruptcy, the mayor, Wade (Leon Rippy), tries to make money for the town and himself was crazy schemes — his last idea was to make a huge shopping mall in the middle of the desert and now wants to build the highway right through the middle of their town. Much to the dismay of Wade, Chris, whose grandfather was the town’s patriarch, returns to state that he is not going to sell the mines.
Joshua (Tom Noonan) owns an exotic spider farm at the edge of town and the Sheriff’s son, Mike (Scott Terra), frequently visits. Toxic waste is being dumped into a nearby river and unbeknownst to anyone, some of the spiders have been near the water and is starting a mutation that causes the spiders to increase in size to giant proportions. Everything is okay until, one day, when some of the spiders get loose from their cages and then all hell breaks loose on the town.
Sheriff Samantha Parker, who used to be with Chris in their younger years, is now a single mother of 2 including, young Mike, who is a bit of a nerd, and teenage Ashley (Scarlett Johansson), who doesn’t get along well with her brother and is rather rebellious and hanging around with Bret (Matt Czuchry), the troublemaking some of Wade. She is trying to be a good Sheriff and raise her children as a single mother. If she thought that was difficult, wait until she sees giant spider attacking her town!
Harlan Griffith (Doug E. Doug) runs a radio station from his trailer and he is constantly discussing government conspiracies and alien abductions. He is prepared for everything except giant spiders!
“Eight Legged Freaks” pays homage to the giant insect movies of the 1950s and 60s like “Them!” (1954) and “Tarantula” (1955) but in a less serious fashion. This movie knows that it is campy and isn’t afraid to just go with it, not taking itself seriously and having fun entertaining us.
One thing that really is unique about this giant spider movie is the number of different types of spiders depicted in super size. Most movies like this show only one type of giant insect or animal, so it’s very interesting to see each of the different spider species acting the way nature intended. There are over half a dozen species of spiders shown in this movie including, the Orb-weaver spider, Jumping spider, Tarantula (several species including the Mexican red knee tarantula, the Pink Foot Goliath and the Goliath birdeater), Trapdoor spider and the Australian funnel-web spider.
I have never been a big fan of David Arquette, so I was kind of wary of this film. I’m glad I decided to watch this movie way back when it was first released and again just this past week because it really is good in a campy sort of way. I still am not a big fan of Arquette but this is definitely one of the exceptions.
Doug E. Doug is hilarious as the host of a radio show that would make Art Bell and Fox Mulder envious. His character is definitely one of the comedic highlights of this movie.
Kari Wuhrer is a little unbelievable as the town sheriff but does her role as well as can be expected for a movie such as this. Scarlett Johansson was 18 at the time of this movie before she really broke out as an actress. Her role is not very big but that’s a fine job. Wuhrer and Johansson definitely provide a lot of eye candy but there is no nudity. Sorry guys!
Aside from Doug E. Doug’s humorous character, there is also Rick Overton, who plays Deputy Pete Willis, the goofy policeman serving under the Sheriff. He is a Barney Fife of the film with a few very humorous scenes, some with Doug E. Doug. It definitely adds some extra comedy to this already over-the-top movie.
Leon Rippy plays the sneaky and annoying Wade so well that I wish I could strangle him.
Legendary voice actor, Frank Welker, provides vocals for Consuela the queen spider and other spider effects.
The story is pretty fast-paced without much time to get boring. You do need to forget about reality completely to get the most out of the story. At 99 minutes, the story seems to fly and I found myself wishing movie was even longer.
The estimated budget for this movie is $30,000,000 and opening weekend sales were $6,485,458, which is really a bad opening. I guess most of the actors were not big draws at the time. But it really did deserve better.
It is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief sexuality and language. I really don’t see too much of the latter but PG-13 is a good fit for this movie. It’s safe to show your children of almost any age.
Be sure to catch the Itsy Bitsy Spider song in the credits because it’s a creepy and fun version of the song that really is perfect for this movie.
Overall, this is a very good sci-fi comedy that has a small cult following but deserving of a bigger following. It has all the makings of a movie with long-lasting potential as a comedy classic. I encourage anyone who has not seen this movie to watch it for the first time and for those who haven’t seen it before, to watch it again and again — I say that about very few movies. Even though this is campy and cheesy, it’s still very entertaining.
Harlan is promoting the Prosperity mall on the radio and later, a mall worker witnesses Wade having toxic waste being moved in the mall basement.
After the mines blow up, the townspeople are walking down a desert road for help and they see Pete trying to explain to Harlan that the spiders were not aliens. The very last scene shows Sam and Chris kissing.
Joshua’s Parrot: I see dead people, I see dead people…
Joshua: He likes that movie, don’t know why…
Harlan: [broadcasting over the radio] Now people “the phones are down” and I know they’re gonna tell you that it’s a “technical error”!
Deputy Pete: They’re not aliens they’re spiders mutated by contaminated waste!
Harlan: That’s probably a more logical explanation!
Mike: Take these you’ll need them.
Chris McCormick: Perfume?
Mike: Well spiders have a highly developed sense of smell the perfume might confuse them.
Harlan: Great if we die we die smelling nice.
Harlan: There’s no way you’re telling me that thing back there is from earth!
Chris McCormick: All right! They’re spiders from Mars! You happy!
Harlan: Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t following me.