|STARS:||TWO and 1/2|
|Starring:||David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Doug E. Doug, Rick Overton, Scarlett Johansson, Scott Terra, Leon Rippy, Eileen Ryan|
|Length:||1 hour 40 minutes|
Prosperity, Arizona is a dying mining town. Prosperity is a desert version of the quirky town in TV's Northern Exposure. It even has a lone voice of (paranoid) reason broadcasting from a radio station based in a trailer. Harlan (Doug E. Doug) spreads government conspiracy theories and alien invasion rumors like a low-budget Art Bell.
How are the performances? We're talking about a giant-bug movie! The cast is fun. Doug E. Doug and Rick Overton steal the show. Doug E. Doug provides the film's slapstick comic relief while Rick Overton is more subtle. Overton's deputy Pete is a timid, lumox who doesn't realize how dumb he is. I found myself laughing every time each man was on screen, and worrying when they appeared to be in danger of dying! David Arquette has a likeable screen presence, but he wasn't strong enough to keep Doug and Overton from stealing the show. Maybe he should have studied Kevin Bacon's performance in Temors before filming. Kari Wuhrer was sexy and competent. I enjoyed Eileen Ryan's performance as the crotchety old secretary. It's easy to see where her sons Sean and Chris Penn get their talent.
The spiders also have to be considered characters in this movie. They deliever the best performances of all thanks to their CGI creators. There are a wide variety of eight-legged nasties. There are a couple of giant tarantulas, some very scary trap-door spiders and some bad-ass jumping spiders. I haven't seen this much variety in the various monsters since Starship Troopers. Unlike Arachnophobia which had me shaking out my shoes every morning before I put them on, Eight Legged Freaks delivers a different type of fright. These spiders scare the crap out of you by their massive size and numbers. My wife and daughter refused to go see the movie because they hate small crawly things. I hate spiders also, but the movie didn't play on that fear except during the first scene when they were still small.
Eight Legged Freaks has the potential to be this summer's sleeper hit. I was surprised that the sneak preview I attended wasn't full. My friend, John Beifus, who is the film critic for "The Memphis Commercial Appeal" made the same observation. He said, "maybe there aren't enough two legged freaks" that would enjoy the film. I hope there are. One thing producers listen to is the sound of money at the box-office. Tremors came out in 1990. It would be nice not to wait 12 years before the release of another monster movie as good as this one.