wouldn't go so far as to say that "Eight Legged
Freaks", a movie about mutated spiders that go on the attack, is a good
film. I'm just saying it's not all that bad; in fact, it's actually quite fun to
watch. "Freaks" is a throwback picture that manages intentional humor
by being self-irreverent and tongue in cheek, both things that elevate it from
being just downright dumb, which is such a possibility with movies in this
Like all movies in its subgenre, "Freaks" takes
place in a remote town in the middle of nowhere, all the better to have just
about anything happen to its poor townspeople and not have the National Guard be
called in. (Consider another Animals Attack film, "Komodo",
which also takes place at a remote location. Remote locations is a criteria all
Animals Attack films can't live without.)
The spiders, the "eight legged freaks" of the
title, reside in a spider farm in the outskirts of town when a toxic chemical
spill mutates their size so that some of them are as big as trailer homes. Now
with the power to break free and run amok, the spiders, well, run amok, and
before all is said and done, a lot of townspeople have been eaten, cocooned, or
beaten down by huge shadowboxing arachnids!
Kari Wuhrer ("Poison")
plays Sam Parker, the town sheriff, whose son, it turns out, knows more about
spiders than he should for a boy his age. It's up to Sam and Chris (David
Arquette), her love interest, to stop the invasion before it's too late. There
are some minor back stories, with Chris nursing the longest crush in the history
of mankind for tough chick Sam, and Sam dealing with her 16-going-on-30 daughter
Ashley (Scarlett Johansson, of "Ghost
World"). All of this is mildly amusing, but in a movie called
"Eight Legged Freaks" you shouldn't expect more than what is given,
and be grateful they even bothered with that in the first place.
The plot breaks down like this: spiders grow big, spiders
attack, townspeople runs, townspeople fights back, spiders are defeated. It's
really as simple as that. The spider cgi is surprisingly very good for a movie
of this budget; the sound effects for the spiders when they attack, or are
beaten back, are also quite funny. "Freaks" works because it plays for
laughs, and the spider attacks, where people are snatched off their feet or get
smothered by "jumping" spiders, are never gruesome. There is no gore
to speak of unless you count spider goo.
The actors all do their parts well enough not to be a
distraction. The sometimes annoying David Arquette is not so annoying here, and
Wuhrer is always easy on the eyes, and actually plays tough very well. Scarlett
Johansson, a burgeoning star, seems out of place in a B-movie like this one, but
maybe she just wanted to get the generic picture bug out of her blood. Doug E.
Doug turns in a hilarious performance as a pirate radio DJ who believes in
aliens and refuses to believe the spiders are actually spiders, but rather
aliens in disguise.
There are a number of gaping plot holes to find in
"Freaks", but I won't waste my time (or yours) by listing them all.
Something as minor as "plot holes" is insignificant when you're
talking about a movie like this one. The film is funny, moves well, and the
spider attacks are a heck of a good time. That's all that could possibly be
asked of "Freaks" and that's all that was given.