Eight Legged Freaks (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

Review byMatthew Turner08/08/2002

Five out of five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Eight Legged Freaks is like Tremors meets Arachnophobia, with Scarlett Johannson thrown in for good measure - happily it more than lives up to its glorious trailer and is easily one of the best films of the summer.

If you've been to the cinema at all over the last couple of weeks, you'll probably have seen the, frankly, splendid Eight Legged Freaks poster, with it's memorable tagline: "Do you hate spiders? Do you REALLY hate spiders? Well...they don't like you either!" This, coupled with an intensive publicity campaign has made Eight Legged Freaks one of the most anticipated movies of the summer and, happily, it doesn't disappoint.

Giant Spiders Attack Small Town

The plot, fairly obviously, boils down to 'Giant Spiders Attack Small Town', but manages to throw in several affectionate nods to the 1950s sci-fi creature features (such as Them! or Tarantula) from which writer-director Elkayem took his inspiration, alongside more recent sci-fi monster flicks such as Tremors and Arachnophobia.

To Elkayem's credit, he kicks things off pretty quickly. First a truckload of toxic waste ends up in the river. Then Harry Potter-alike whizz-kid Mike Parker (appealing child actor Scott Terra) visits his weird friend Joshua (odd-looking character actor Tom Noonan) and his spider-farm.

Joshua then gives a quick run-down on what each spider can do (jumpers, trappers, cocooners etc), then explains he's been feeding the spiders on 'bugs from the river' and that they seem to be growing quite quickly. Moments later, it's bye-bye Joshua and, as the other tag-line says, 'Let the squashing begin...'


From then on it's just a matter of introducing the other characters and spider-bait as quickly as possible. So we get nice-but-dim Chris McCormack (David Arquette, a good choice for 'will he make it to the final reel roles, as Scream proved), sexy Sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), her 'biker chick' teenage daughter Ashley (The Lovely Scarlett Johansson, from Ghost World and The Man Who Wasn't There), as well as Doug E. Doug as a paranoid radio host convinced the spiders are actually aliens.

The actors are all excellent, thankfully choosing to play it straight rather than go for out-and-out laughs, though naturally there are lots of funny lines / moments etc. Chief among these is the Jumping Spider / motorbike chase, which is hilarious and almost certainly destined for Classic Scene status.


Director Elkayem clearly has a lot of affection for his subject matter - he got the directing job on the back of two similarly-themed short films he'd made, Larger Than Life and They Nest (here's hoping they show up on the DVD). The effects-work is particularly strong - the spiders are genuinely scary and the film never looks 'over-CGI-ed'. In addition, the 'splatter' effects are pleasingly gloopy, in a way that will guarantee lots of 'Ewwww's from the audience.

If there's a flaw in the film, it's only that the script isn't quite as sharp as it could have been (as opposed to, say, Tremors), though there are plenty of good lines. There are also a couple of clumsily-shoe-horned cash-in lines, such as 'It's a spider, man!' However, this doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the film, particularly as some scenes (such as the spiders attacking the town en masse) will no doubt be drowned out by audience screams anyway...

In short, Eight Legged Freaks (which was originally titled 'Arac Attack') is definitely worth seeing, unless, of course, you're arachnophobic. Giant spiders, lots of squashing, plucky townsfolk armed with chainsaws. What more could you want from a film? Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Eight Legged Freaks (12)
Eight Legged Freaks has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 16/07/2018 06:00

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