I hate spiders and tend to freak out when I see them around the house. Despite that, I'm not bothered when I see a spider or many spiders in a movie like I am with snakes. I've actually enjoyed some movies dealing with spiders. I recently watched one of those movies, Eight Legged Freaks, again.
Outside the small town of Prosperity Arizona, a barrel of toxic waste ended up in a swamp where a lot of insects lived. Joshua owned an exotic spider farm near the swamp. He actually caught insects at the swamp to feed to his spiders. Within a week, the spiders were bigger when Mike Parker, a young boy from town, came to see Joshua and his spiders. After Mike left, Joshua was bitten by one of the spiders and he fell onto the cases of some of the other spiders, setting them free. After another week, the spiders were on the verge of taking over the town. Sheriff Samantha Parker had to figure out how to handled the situation while also dealing with a few issues with her daughter Ashley and son Mike. Chris McCormick, who owned the mines in town after the death of his father, returned to town. He ended up working to help Sam deal with the spiders.
The events that led to what happened with the spiders and how they got so big was covered in the first few minutes of Eight Legged Freaks. The incident with the toxic waste provided the explanation for how the things with the spiders could happen. Once they were mutated, the spiders still seemed to act the same, like how the one type was jumping. They were able to do so much damage because they were so huge. Even with the explanation for how the spiders grew, that aspect of the plot really wasn't that believable. I wasn't bothered by that and thought that the plot was interesting and entertaining. It did seem like the movie was a newer version of some of the old horror movies that would feature some sort of giant creatures attacking people. People really need to be able to suspend their disbelief to full enjoy the movie.
There was a good amount of humor used throughout Eight Legged Freaks. Some of what was done to add humor was silly, but I thought it worked for the movie. Many of the things that were happening made me laugh. Chris said and did several things that made me laugh, including using perfume against a giant spider at one point. Harlan had a lot of odd theories about things and he broadcast them over the radio. He came up with some downright bizarre things at times and he made me laugh many times as well. I thought that the humor worked well with the scary elements used throughout the movie.
There was a little bit of action in Eight Legged Freaks once the spiders were bigger and started attacking. People were trying fight to protect themselves from the spiders by grabbing whatever they could use as a weapon. Some people did better with that than others. Some of the attempts at fighting did add some humor to the situation as well. Several characters used guns against the spiders, which were shown sort of exploding when they were hit. When that happened, there was this gross green slime stuff coming out of the spiders. It was shown when some characters were attacked by the spiders, but there really wasn't anything too graphic or violent shown. The movie was rated PG-13, so there wasn't anything too objectionable in it. Some characters did swear without getting excessive with the profanity. The movie really isn't one for younger children.
Chris had been gone from town for a long time when Eight Legged Freaks started. He was barely back before he had an encounter with Sam and it was made clear that he had feelings for her and had felt that way years before but never did anything about it. Sam was single, having left her husband some time before. It did seem like there was an attempt to add in a bit of romance between Sam and Chris which really didn't go anywhere since they basically had no time for anything other than fighting the giant spiders. Ashley was dating a boy, but not much was shown with that either other than to illustrate that Sam wasn't happy about Ashley dating. All that was shown was a few kisses.
Samantha was a single mom who was also the sheriff. She was trying to juggle her work and her family, which wasn't always working. She was having trouble with Ashley at times. Sam did seem like a nice character. Kari Wuhrer was fine in the part. Mike was Sam's son. He was smart and knew a lot about spiders. He didn't always do what his mom told him to do, but he wasn't a bad kid. Scott Terra was fine in the part. Ashley was Sam's teenage daughter who was running a bit wild. Ashley did seem to resent her mother, especially when she tried to do things to protect her. At one point, Ashley said something very hurtful to her mom. That made it hard for me to like her later in the movie. Scarlett Johansson was fine in the part, though I didn't see anything special about her performance.
Chris inherited the mines around the town when his father died. He came back because he intended to reopen the mine. He was trying to help fight the spiders once everything started happening. There really wasn't much shared about him, but he did seem like a nice enough person. David Arquette was fine in the part. Harlan was sort of seen as a nutcase by other people around town because of all the wild theories he came up with and broadcast on his radio show. He was kind of goofy and did help to add some humor to different situations. Doug E. Doug was fine in the part. Wade, the mayor of the town, turned up in a few scenes. He had his own plans for the town. Pete seemed to be the only deputy and he got pulled into helping deal with the spiders.
David Arquette - Chris
Doug E. Doug - Harlan
Scarlett Johansson - Ashley
Rick Overton - Pete
Leon Rippy - Wade
Scott Terra - Mike
Kari Wuhrer - Sam
Ellory Elkayem - Director
Eight Legged Freaks is available on DVD with a few extras related to the making the movie. It also turns up on television every so often.
Eight Legged Freaks was silly and unbelievable, but it was a very entertaining movie that I enjoy despite my dislike of spiders. People that like movies about giant creatures or horror movies that had a decent amount of comedy should give this one a chance. It isn't a movie that will appeal to everyone though.
This review is part of CaptainD's 2008 Good Movie Write Off.
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