Worth A Look: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 46.15%
Total Crap: 23.08%
1 review, 7 user ratings
by The Freshmaker
I thought about reviewing the first movie I saw from this studio, a comic book adaptation called FAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED, but I ended up scouring it from my brain for fear it might do lasting damage. Thankfully their latest, ARACHNID, isn't nearly that bad (but that ain't saying much, now is it).If you rent this thing expecting the whole DVD magilla, you've got another thing coming. All you get is a splash screen with the movie, a scene list, and subtitles. No trailers, no interviews, no extras, no nothing. Unless they were hidden, of course, in which case I just wasn't motivated enough to look for 'em.
"More cheese from Fantastic Factory (but at least they're trying...)"
Anyway, on to the movie. I think we’re all familiar with opening credits, like "Warner Bros presents, an Icon Production, of a Richard Donner Film”, blah blah, right? Well, this flick has ‘em all beat. Check out the following, each with its own screen (and pardon any mispelling, some of the smaller letters were hard to make out):
-Lions Gate Home Entertainment
-A Julio Fernandez/Brian Yuzna Production
-For Castelao Productions
-In collaboration with "Televisio de Catalunya S.A. – T.V.C.", Televisio de Catalunya
-With the participation of VIA digital
-Television de Galicia
-Generalitat de Catalunya Department de Cultura
-Developed with the support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union
-a project of...Fantastic Factory
and then on to the movie (finally!) Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle, that's fourteen screens! No wonder this thing went straight to video; people would’ve gotten tired and walked out of the theater before they ever got to the opening scene.
Okay, here’s the skinny: we open on the ocean, where a pseudo-invisible space ship that shimmers like a bashful Predator is pulling a funnel of water out of the ocean, sharks and all. Suddenly a Stealth bomber happens along; we hear radio chatter but I couldn’t tell if the pilot was actually saying anything ‘cause his facial muscles weren't moving much and he just looked bored. Anyway, he sees the space ship and gives chase across the open ocean. When he gets too close his plane goes bonkers and the pilot has to eject, just before the bomber hits the ship and both explode.
Cut to a jungle island where the pilot comes down in his chute. Where this land came from is anyone’s guess, ‘cause we certainly didn’t see any in previous shots. The pilot finds the wreckage of the downed ship and sees a grasshopper-lookin’ alien shimmering in and out of view and waving for help. But then we see big spider legs appear from behind him and a big ol’ tooth punches through him. The pilot tries to shoot at this new creature but then it jumps at him too.
Cut to somewhere in the South Pacific (Guam?), where tough chick pilot Mercer is readying her plane for a charter. We know she’s tough ‘cause of her generally pissy “I can take care of my own self” attitude, and we know her name is Mercer because people tend to say it every time they address her (and since she’s all broody and glowering through most of the movie, it usually takes a couple just to get her attention -- “Mercer? Hey Mercer, c’mon, we have to stay together…”) The charter is a South American doctor with an accent so thick you can barely understand him, and his busty nurse is equally indecipherable and has an irritating voice to boot. They are to be led onto a jungle island by soldier-of-fortune Valentine, played by Chris Potter, best known as Caine’s present-day son on KUNG-FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES. I have nothing against Potter, he’s a decent enough actor, but a little too sensitive at times (i.e., in whispery voice, “Mercer? Mercer, don’t worry, we’ll find your brother, Mercer...”) Valentine brings along two paramilitary cohorts plus a whole contingent of native redshirts to carry their supplies. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the nerdy comedy-relief entymologist who’s there to tell us things about spiders that no one else would know otherwise.
They reach the island (and crash, naturally), then set off to reach the village where one of the doctor's patients had contracted some kinda disease, probably from a spider bite. But the rest of the natives are dead/gone and all they find are mutant insects, like big honkin' ticks that burrow beneath the skin and crawl back out in interesting places like the mouth and eye socket. Ticks 1, paramilitary cohorts 0. There are also large millipedes that move like quicksilver and can’t be hit no matter how many rounds you fire at ‘em (and they fire plenty, believe me). But that’s nothing beside the title monster, a pony-sized prop spider that’s seemingly impervious to both machine-gun fire and machetes, though if you can catch one of its legs in a steel door it’ll cut it right off (the next time I blaze a trail through the jungle, you can bet I’m leaving my machete behind and taking a nice sharp steel door instead...) The puppet for this creature is okay, as long as it’s not moving; then the jig is up. Why they didn’t find some unemployed stop-motion animator and give him a couple of days work is beyond me; it certainly would’ve been more convincing in long shots.
While running through a jungle that's draped in Silly String (“Don’t touch the webs, they’re like steel!”), they find the body of Mercer’s brother, the pilot who bailed at the first. Thankfully the giant spider is a light eater, otherwise his cadaver would’ve been a pile of picked-clean bones rather than intact and hanging on the wall and so easily recognizable. Of course, now it’s personal, mind you, and our tough gal wants payback! They follow the spider into a cave where it promptly attacks, and for some reason the previously ponderous puppet now moves a lot like Michelle Yeoh in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (i.e., sailing through the air with feet barely touching anything). Mercer flees through the cave but she’s bound by the tenets of the Film Heroine’s Union Local #513 and must trip over her own feet when an open spot of floor becomes available, then flail about helplessly. The spider catches up but decides not to kill her right away (maybe it plans on confessing its maniacal scheme for world domination?) so Potter and the native boy have a chance to catch up and pincushion its ass with blowgun barbs. Who needs heavy ordinance when a hollow tube will work! Sure beats lugging all that ammo around the jungle...
Lessons learned during this movie:
- When your gun has only “half a magazine” left, it doesn’t really mean you’re almost out of ammo, so go ahead and fire away indiscriminately.
- When a big meanie is trying to get into the door and then suddenly everything gets quiet, do NOT squeal “It’s gone!” and open the door or you’re just asking for trouble.
- Don’t try to shoot a giant spider from fewer than ten feet away or you will be hyp-mo-tized with fear and unable to fire a single round!
- If you’re the lead in the movie, you don’t have all that much to worry about; the spider will only scratch you a little and slap you around or try to coccoon you in silk, but everyone else it will dissolve and eat in record time.
- Gunfire that excises/destroys whole chunks of tissue is much less effective than blowgun darts tipped in spider venom. So why didn’t they just dip the bullets in the shit too? (And speaking of spider venom, try to carry it in one of those hollow gourds that shatter like glass just in case you have to throw it at whatever’s chasing you...)
- No matter how blunt a stalagmite is, you can still be impaled on it, even if you’ve got a skeleton on the outside AND inside. So be careful.
So why was the inviso-ship sucking up ocean water and sharks and stuff at the first? Dunno. What was the little grasshopper alien trying to tell us? Shrug. Was the spider that killed him something that survived the crash, or was it one of ours and just mutated really really fast? Must've missed that part. Maybe it’ll say in the DVD extras...oops, ain’t none. Oh well, guess I’ll have to wait for ARACHNID II: THE RETURN OF MERCER (MERCER?)In the final analysis, it’s certainly a step up in quality from crap like FAUST but that's not the kinda quote you wanna put on a movie poster. If you like really cheesy monster movies like THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION and FOOD OF THE GODS, then this might be your cup of tea. Personally, I've heard good things about Stuart Gordon's DAGON so I'll give the studio one more try. Hopefully they can get it right next time.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5850&reviewer=295
originally posted: 03/31/02 20:48:36