"Low-budget Giant Spiders Eating Idiots - In other words, good stuff."
I make no apologies for enjoying films in which giant monsters eat screaming people. Budget be damned; if you give me the goopy goods and you do so in colorful fashion, I'll enjoy your movie. I proudly list Eight Legged Freaks as one of my Underrated Treasures of 2002 - and the rather similar Arachnia now makes my list of Enjoyably Silly Cheapo Monster Movies of 2003.There's precisely nothing new about Arachnia - so writer/director Brett Piper uses this to his advantage and tweaks every convention, cliche and overbaked line reading with a knowing wink. Clearly this is a filmmaker who grew up on horror movies - and continues to do so currently.
The plot here is a knowing pastiche of Tarantula (giant spider), Arachnophobia (several hungry spiders), The Evil Dead / Night of the Living Dead (cabin-bound terrors) and it boasts a third act straight out of Cameron's Aliens.
The plot sees six archetypal Horror Movie Characters (the spunky heroine, the swaggering hunk, the sniveling WASP, the whining bimbos) survive a meteorite-induced plane crash only to come across...you guessed it...a deserted forest infested with gigantic carnivorous spiders.
It's all comfortably familiar, and Arachnia seems like it would (aside from some welcome moments of bare breastage and brief flirtation with lip-locked lesbians) be right at home alongside old chestnuts like The Deadly Mantis and Frogs. If a movie promises giant spiders eating people and it delivers with a fair amount of consistency...I don't care if it was made for 200 bucks and stars Dustin Diamond...I'm going to have a good time. (And for the record, Arachnia features a cast of unknowns - all of whom are more entertaining than Dustin Diamond.)
The performers emote on a scale ranging from intentionally theatrical to capably amusing, though each actor is easily upstaged by all the screaming rabid mutated spiders. Presented in a wonderfully old-fashioned stop-motion fashion, the big nasty spiders look as fake as the day is long - if that's the sort of thing you like to look for. I for one enjoyed every animated antic of the eight-legged arachnids. Clearly someone making low-budget indie horror flicks still remembers the beauty of Harryhausen-esque FX techniques.
Some of Arachnia is funny by accident, but for the most part this is a self-referential and good-natured little monster movie that should give Gorehounds a few moments of glee. Sure, there are a few dry spots in between the broad humor and campy kills - but I see so many "on the cheap" horror flicks that just suck across the board that it pleases me to find one that's simply NOT BORING.Arachnia is by no means some revolutionary new spin on the Monster Movie; it's simply another low-budget monster movie - but one clearly crafted with an affection for the genre and a flair for the enjoyably dumb.