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Overall Rating
3.36

Awesome: 13.58%
Worth A Look41.98%
Average: 17.28%
Pretty Bad: 20.99%
Total Crap: 6.17%

6 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Eight Legged Freaks
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by Scott Weinberg

"Makes 'Arachnophobia' look like 'Chariots of Fire'."
4 stars

Some films move you and help you to expand your thinking. Others inspire deeply emotional responses and help you to grow (just a little) as a human being. Then there are movies in which the audience becomes a 90-minute community - hooting, hollering, and screeching in unison, yelling, squirming, and just having a plain old ball. There’s the pair of goofy 14-year-olds in the front row who scream at any provocation; behind them are three young women who involuntarily JOLT upwards seven inches from their seats every nine minutes and then giggle contentedly; there’s the one goofball way in the back screaming at the character onscreen “Run you FOOL!” while other spectators laugh appreciatively at the tension release; and then there’s you, just sitting back and letting it all soak in.

Eight Legged Freaks is a whole lot like that. The relatively packed crowd surrounding me screamed and laughed and screamed “Oh Shit!” in one joyous voice, and we all had a helluva time together. This gleefully giddy giant spider invasion may never win any Oscars, but it delivered one of the most entertaining 90-minute spectacles I’ve witnessed in a long time.

Producer Dean Devlin described the tone of Eight Legged Freaks as ‘Half Tremors, half Gremlins’, and as I read that interview, my only thought was “Oh, I only pray that you’re right.” Well, turns out he was correct, since Eight Legged Freaks is a longtime creature-feature freak’s fondest dream come true. It’s a sinfully silly and surprisingly clever homage to old-school monster movies, and Eight Legged Freaks also puts its own unique spin on the age-old horror cliches. First-time director Ellory Elkayem obviously knows his monster movies, and the young filmmaker presents an unapologetically frantic tone in his debut effort. In ten years, Eight Legged Freaks will be discussed as fondly as Tremors is these days. (I mean, who doesn’t like Tremors??)

The plot is as you’d expect: thanks to an inadvertent spillage of some goopy toxic waste, the sleepy desert town of Prosperity, Arizona is suddenly overrun by massive and ridiculously aggressive spiders. There’s the bouncy hopping spider, the ‘wrap you up in webs’ spiders, the big fuzzy tarantulas, and (my favorite and soon to be yours) the infamous ‘trapdoor’ spiders. And if you’re worried that a PG-13 flick may necessarily offer a skimpy body count and only a few isolated spider attacks, let your worries end here. Despite an opening act that drags a bit while introducing the various townsfolk, Eight Legged Freaks is nearly non-stop kinetic mania for almost the entire second half.

The cast is comprised of a collection of familiar faces, with David Arquette (star of Scream, as well as those stunningly obnoxious 1-800-collect commercials) assumes the ‘hero’ role with a notable absence of trademark shrillness, while the lovely Kari Wuhrer (Anaconda) gets to play sheriff. Maybe I’m just a sap for a pretty face, but I’d contend that Wuhrer acquits herself quite well throughout the entire film. There’s a colorful assortment of off-center caricatures which make up the rest of the townsfolk, with Ric Overton (as a befuddled deputy) and Doug E. Doug (playing the world’s most paranoid radio personality) as the guys offering the best laughs.

Yes, I said laughs, because comedy is half of what Eight Legged Freaks is all about. Sure, the gorehounds will enjoy the extensive arachnid attacks (particularly those nasty web-spinners!), but the film is infused with a truly irresistible blend of comic-book attitude, surprisingly effective slapstick, b-movie kitsch, and outright monster madness. Try to not crack a smile as composer John Ottman weaves the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ theme into one of the film’s creepier sequences and those who adore sly movie in-jokes and not-so-subtle film references will find much to enjoy. Horror devotees will also be thrilled to learn that in no way does Eight Legged Freaks skimp on the body count; this flick has more conspicuous feasting than did your last 45 trips to the Wendy’s drive-thru window.

If you’re judging a film based on how well it accomplishes its intended mission, Eight Legged Freaks is a rousing and wholly entertaining success. Sure, there are a few subplots left dangling, many of the actors are wooden at best, and a few of the gags fall just this side of being too silly, but the bottom line is that this is just one fun movie. It never aspires to be anything more than an exciting and clever piece of eye-candy and on that level – I’d call it an instant classic. Nobody would ever mistake a Big Mac for a Filet Mignon, but sometimes that greasy fast food is a blissful treat. This flick is that Big Mac.

Eight Legged Freaks is a textbook example of how to create an absolutely delicious b-movie treat: Take a bunch of likeably goofball characters, mix ‘em in with a gigantic, writhing bunch of disgusting creepy-crawlies, toss in a witty and fast-paced screenplay, and coat liberally with a tone of loving homage and plain old playfulness.

If I were 13 years old again, Eight Legged Freaks would easily be my new favorite movie – but don’t let that fool you, because I’m 30 now and I’d absolutely recommend this addicting little thrill-ride to just about anyone (from 13 to 103) who’s asking my opinion…and can handle the sight of a thousand giant carnivorous spiders!

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5599&reviewer=128
originally posted: 07/18/02 05:59:25
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival For more in the 2006 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/29/14 PAUL SHORTT FUN, SLICKLY MADE COMEDY-HORROR 3 stars
11/15/12 Dragoon the great ;) Great fun with a bit of a scare factor. THE POOR CAT! If you seen it you know what I mean 4 stars
11/17/08 Nick Great B-movie fun. Hilarious! 4 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Laughed my ass off! 4 stars
3/28/08 Renzo Funny, not scary. 3 stars
4/23/07 David Risser Spiders grow to rediculous sizes due to toxic waste, yeah, right. 1 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega B-movie fun. Watchable for both laughs and shocks. 3 stars
1/29/07 Stanley Thai A very enjoyable film with very funny scenes. 4 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist A lame attempt at a popcorn flick; campy,unamusing,& desicration to arachniphobia!! 2 stars
4/22/06 Jack The most comedic horror ever. Like it 4 stars
1/18/06 JM Synth Okay, but not as good as the "Tremors" films. The trailer was great though 3 stars
8/19/05 ES ho-hum movie from the losers that brought us ID4 and Godzilla (no the bad one) 3 stars
7/05/05 Jeff Anderson Everything the godawful GODZILLA & ID4 wasn't, LOTS OF FUN! Kari Wuhrer ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/03/05 Quigley total envy of godzilla! the bullcrap is so high you'd need a footstool to see over it. 1 stars
5/17/05 sbpat21 very, very fun 4 stars
11/18/04 sd you SUCK 1 stars
5/13/04  Shaun Rose decent popcorn flick 3 stars
5/09/04 Charlene Javier Not fun enough. 2 stars
3/14/04 J A funny story of chaos with spiders. 4 stars
1/22/04 American Slasher Goddess Uneven balance of comedy and horror, which makes it extremely bad. 1 stars
12/20/03 Littlepurch Funny, exciting and enjoyable. 5 stars
9/06/03 Charles Tatum Big fun, good looking girls...and I still hate Arquette 4 stars
8/04/03 Kristina Scarlet was great and looks sure wasn't a problem. She looked so good. 5 stars
7/11/03 Eloise i like it, i like it alot, naf...... yet pleasing 5 stars
2/05/03 123 honestly, this is a rather boring movie 3 stars
2/04/03 Turtle I loved this CGI-crazy Tremors with attitude. It's lots of great, hilarious fun. 5 stars
12/30/02 Jim Kind of like "Gremlins" with spiders; Arquette actually turns in a performance. 4 stars
12/23/02 E-Rock David Arquette is a retard, and any movie he's in isn't worth being paid to see... 1 stars
12/18/02 Matthew The sound affects the spiders used were kind of funny but all in all it was pretty cornie. 2 stars
12/17/02 palaboy101 Great fun! Highly recommended! 5 stars
9/29/02 Matthew Smith great fun and it will make you Laugh, squirm and jump out of your seat 4 stars
9/20/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite Collin Souter, a rabbit isn't a rodent, and all mutations involve DNA. Study biology. 4 stars
8/16/02 scott AWSOME 5 stars
7/26/02 Matthew Sanchez A beautifully bad movie. bad can't be done much better. 5 stars
7/25/02 Greg Great! 5 stars
7/24/02 STEVE THE ITSY BITSY SPIDER WENT UP THE WATER SPOUT HERE CAME ARQUETTE GETTING BEAT UP BY 8LEGFR 5 stars
7/24/02 Courtney Tons of mindless fun! 4 stars
7/22/02 ajay a couple laugh-out-loud moments. And I like Doug E. Doug. 4 stars
7/22/02 trevor Get away you EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS! 4 stars
7/22/02 Flick Chick not scary, not hilarious, not interesting 2 stars
7/22/02 Rampage After seeing this, I wanted to squash spiders... 2 stars
7/21/02 Ren Bacon I thought it was toe-tapping fun, esp. Kari Wuhrer. Only Doug E. Doug failed. Un. Talented. 5 stars
7/19/02 Alan Hecker OK so a toxic spill in a *lake* creates crickets that give rise to giant spiders.... 4 stars
7/19/02 Kyle Somebody who's seen the movie. 4 stars
7/18/02 Danielle Ophelia It's a movie about giant mutant killer spiders...what the hell are you bitching about? 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Jul-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Sep-2002




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