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Bob Smithouser

Movie Review

There’s something disconcerting about a movie that one minute has the audience laughing and the next shows a victim, still alive, being penetrated and sucked dry by a huge arachnid. That juxtaposition of humor and horror in Eight Legged Freaks puts it in a class with other modern B-movie yuk/yecch-fests including Mars Attacks! and Tremors.

“The laughter is a good release,” says director Ellory Elkayem. “It’s exhausting to be terrified every minute.” Perhaps, but it seems rather callous to plumb for giggles by showing cute household pets dragged to their doom, or teen motocrossers gang-tackled by giant spiders that reduce them to inert lumps of chow. Fleeing masses are besieged by ravenous creepy crawlies for a sizable body count. And while it could be argued that the film’s sheer ludicrousness begs audiences not to take any of it seriously, some viewers may be further desensitized to real pain and suffering.

The plot couldn’t be simpler. After exposure to toxic waste, overgrown trap-door spiders, orb-weavers, tarantulas, jumping spiders and other species inhabit a small Arizona town and the empty mines beneath it. The locals unite to squash or blast the predators into green goo.

In addition to arach-attack violence, more than 30 profanities are spun into the dialogue (mild except for exclamatory uses of God’s name and two s-words). The only sexual content involves a girl resisting the advances of her boyfriend. Selfless heroics and a few pro-family moments notwithstanding, Eight Legged Freaks is an unsettlingly savage comedy.

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Bob Smithouser