[box cover]

Eight Legged Freaks

After feasting upon toxic-waste-filled crickets, an entire exotic-spider farm grows exponentially bigger and begins to take over the mining town of Prosperity, Arizona. Only the smart-allecky son (Scott Terra) of the town's female sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wurher) knows what's going on, and he tries to explain the crisis to returned mining engineer Chris McCormick (David Arquette) — who also happens to be Sam's long lost love interest — but before long it's too late, and the town is crawling with gigantic, hungry spiders. For those who are a little bit (or a lot) arachnophobic, Eight Legged Freaks (2002) will do them no favors. Though the film has the old standby tarantulas, there are also leaping spiders (which take out a team of motorbike riders), trapdoor spiders, and web-spinners that plaster their victims in webbing, only to take their prey to the enormous female web-spinner who drains them alive. But if you like movies that attempt to capture the B-flick magic of pictures like Them and The Deadly Mantis — well, you're probably better off renting Ron Underwood's entirely more accomplished Tremors. If that's checked out, then Eight Legged Freaks probably is on the same level of Arachnophobia at provoking both nostalgia and chills. Thoroughly dumb, the movie manages by on its cheap scares and good comic support in Doug E. Doug (as a paranoid, conspiracy-ridden DJ) and Rick Overton (as the befuddled deputy), while Scarlet Johansson makes the most of a nothing part as Sam's attractive daughter. Otherwise, Wurher and Arquette make fine (if bland) leads, and the picture delivers the requisite spider terror. Warner has released Eight-Legged Freaks in separate anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan versions with good transfers. Audio on both is Dolby Digital 5.1 with an engaging mix (along with French 5.1, and English, Spanish, and French subtitles). Extras include a commentary from director Ellory Elkayem, Arquette, Overton, and producer Dean Devlin (who dominates the yack-track), 11 deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, notes on the genre, and "Larger than Life" — the 1998 short film Elkayem made that scored him the job. Snap-case.

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