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Eight Legged Freaks Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/17/2002

Many times when I go to see a preview screening of a movie, I tend to notice the reaction of the other people around me. When I went to see Reign of Fire last week, most of the people around me seemed disappointed with the film, although my brother and I loved it. I went alone to the screening of Eight Legged Freaks, and the opposite thing happened. I didn’t like the movie, and everyone around me seemed to really enjoy it. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been a decent monster spoof in quite a while and they were grasping for straws (though I would consider this year’s Jason X a hilarious monster spoof; see my review.) I just thought that was odd.

Eight Legged Freaks is the story of giant spiders terrorizing a town. It’s as simple as that…but if you want more details, then…okay. For the most overused and generic reason, the spiders become giants because of toxic waste that is spilled into the ponds. More specifically, the crickets fed to the spiders were from the ponds with the toxic waste in it. Of course, the only one who believes that there is a giant spider problem at first is a kid named Mike Parker (Scott Terra) who obsesses about spiders and hangs out with a weird spider rancher. What makes it all the dumber is that the kid points out the cliché! He tells the movie’s hero, Chris McCormack (David Arquette), that he is the only one who believes the spiders exist (what is it about being in a movie with Arquette that makes people want to point out movie clichés, ala Scream?) Soon everyone believes the kid when the spiders start overtaking the town of Prosperity, Arizona. They of course have to save the town by either finding a way to contact outside help or blow them up somehow. Oh, and there is a flimsy subplot about the town on the edge of ruin because they can’t find the gold in the mines owned by McCormack’s late father. That is a story that goes absolutely nowhere and is wrapped up a little too neatly.

The movie has all the staple characters: the heroic Sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer, in a little gender twist on the cliché; she is also Mike's hot-looking mom), the goofy sidekick Deputy Pete (Rick Overton), the conspiracy theory freak Harlan (Doug E. Doug), the greedy Mayor Wade (Leon Rippy), the hot older sister of Mike named Ashley (Scarlett Johansson), and Aunt Gladys (Eileen Ryan), the old lady who looks like she is near death anyway.

If it wasn't already widely known, Eight Legged Freaks has confirmed that David Arquette cannot act. His attempt to be a sweet loner who is in love with Sam comes off as a little too stilted. I really didn't have a problem with Wuhrer's acting, though I didn't think she and Arquette had any chemistry whatsoever.

I know that I was supposed to take this movie in the vein of classics (or at least classics to me) like Gremlins or Tremors, but I couldn't ignore the bad acting, stupid and clichéd plot, and just-okay special effects. It did make me jump (it actually doesn't take much to make me jump) and I did chuckle once or twice (there is a clever reference to this year's biggest movie when one character asks Pete what these things are and he responds by saying, "It's a spider...man"), but I just thought it wasn't as clever or cool as those classic monster flicks. I actually thought another movie that I consider a classic, 1990's Arachnophobia, was a much funnier, scarier spider movie.

I am taking into consideration the few jumps and laughs I got from the movie, combined with my fellow moviegoers' reactions to the movie when giving my rating. If you are like them, you might have a fun time at the movies, but if you are like me, you might find yourself driving to the video store to rent a variety of much better monster movies!

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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