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A toxic chemical spill in a run-down mining town causes an arachnid collector's spiders to mutate to the size of four wheel drives. The spiders are hungry for humans, and have a unique way of liquefying their victims' insides so they can slurp up the goo. Soon cut off from the outside world, it's up to the town's sexy sheriff (Kari Wurher) and her long lost flame (David Arquette) to mobilise the residents and fight off the giant creepy crawlies.

Review by Shannon J Harvey:
For film fans – especially those of tacky B-grade horror movies - the trailer for Eight Legged Freaks promised something tantalising; a camp modern day homage to all those silly B-monster movies from the 1950s. You know, movies like Them!, Tarantula and Empire of the Ants, where deadly chemical reactions, bizarre scientific experiments, and that old chestnut - nuclear testing - causes normally benign bugs to mutate into gigantic killers who wreak havoc on small town America. 

A modern day tribute movie that uses all the latest gadgetry to create a light-hearted, self-reflexive monster mash might be worth the popcorn. After all, it’s fun watching humans run screaming from big ass bugs before being squished, squashed and splattered all over the screen. 

You might feel a little walked over too by this mild attempt at homage, which plays more like a simple B-grade horror itself, only given an A-grade budget and a Z-grade script. Don’t get me wrong - Kiwi director Ellory Elkayem has included all of the genre’s traditions; the remote country town cut off from the outside world, a nerdy kid (Scott Terra) who no-one listens to, a bumbling cop (a scene stealing Rick Overton), a true believer (radio station DJ Doug E. Doug), and a loner who saves the day (a surprisingly straight David Arquette). Then there are the animatronic-looking spiders, which certainly have fun pouncing on unsuspecting teens, popping up in tents, and eating pet cats stuck between the walls. Yet Elkayem’s film neither enriches nor truly spoofs the genre in the same way Tim Burton did (for alien invasion) movies in Mars Attacks! or Mike Myers did (for Bond) in Austin Powers. Instead, his film simply straddles the line between horror and comedy, and it ends up being neither. It's not as colourfully demented as Tremors nor as gruesomely clever as Starship Troopers. It’s simple crowd-pleasing silliness that should be enjoyed by undemanding viewers or anyone in the mood for a lark.

The DVD format, however, is perfect for watching such creepy-crawly fun. The 5.1 sound has you looking over you shoulder for furry nasties, and the small screen matches the film’s B-grade feel. The extras are minimal. You get Elkayem’s pedestrian commentary, his mildly enjoyable short film that inspired the movie, a DVD-ROM game and 10 minutes worth of ho-hum additional scenes.

And then there’s that trailer again. Like the film, it’s fun, but alarm bells should ring when you hear them announce, “From the producers of Independence Day and Godzilla!”

Published February 6, 2003

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CAST: David Arquette, Kari Wurher, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug, Scott Terra, Rick Overton

DIRECTOR: Ellory Elkayem

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Additional scenes; commentary with co-stars David Arquette, Rick Overton, director-co-writer Ellory Elkayem, producer Dean Devlin; Larger than Life – the director’s original short film that inspired the movie; High Voltage Spider Killing Challenge ROM game; Hidden spider trivia; cast/director film highlights; theatrical trailer.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 5, 2003

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