EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (REVIEW)
Dir. Ellory Ellayem
Reviewer. Dan Cook
We all have that one comfort movie that we turn to when we want to unwind. For some, it may be a cheesy romantic comedy. For others, it may a nostalgic childhood favourite. For me, it’s Ellory Ellayem’s brilliantly silly creature feature EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS. Inspired by the entertaining giant bug pictures of the 1950’s and developed from a very effective short film, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS is a spider-squashing good time as oversized arachnids start to munch on the inhabitants of a small Arizona town after being exposed to toxic waste.
To say that the movie is daft would be an understatement but the game cast all do a good job in their respective roles. David Arquette is very charming and often times hilarious as the prodigal everyman who becomes the unlikely hero while Kari Wuhrer is delightfully feisty as the towns no-nonsense sheriff. Other casting highlights include Rick Overton as the trusty town cop, Leon Rippy who follows in JAWS icon Murray Hamilton’s shoes as the money-grabbing mayor and there’s even a small but significant appearance from future Academy Award nominee and soon-to-be Avenger Scarlett Johansson as the teenage daughter of Wuhrer’s sheriff.
However, the unequivocal stars of the show are the titular beasties, all bought to life thanks to some deliberately hokey yet pretty solid CGI work as well as the vocal talents of legendary voice actors Frank Welker, Rob Paulson and Kevin Michael Richardson who imbue each of the giant critters with a distinctly unique comic personality. From an enormous Mexican red-kneed tarantula which roars like a dinosaur to the vicious male orb weavers which excitedly scrabble about their victims like hyperactive toddlers, the many hundreds of spiders on show in EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS are both suitably creepy yet undeniably funny; screeching and cackling like deranged Chuck Jones characters as they make human-sized aperitifs of the cast.
There are too many standout scenes of creature carnage in EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS to count but be assured that each and every squishy sequence of man vs monster action are thrilling, scary and often times, extremely humorous - with one particularly memorable scene involving a spider, a cat and a sheet of dry wall proving to be not only the funniest scene in the entire film but one of the funniest scenes in cinema history.
Obviously those who are arachnophobic will avoid this movie like the plague but for those in the mood to watch a bunch of mega-sized spiders being squashed, shot, punched and exploded over the course of 90 short minutes, then EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS is the film for you. High in the yuck factor and rich in gags both physical and spoken, this sorely appreciated gem deserves a place alongside EVIL DEAD II : DEAD BY DAWN, SHAUN OF THE DEAD and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON as one of the best horror comedies ever made. I’m now just waiting for the long-hoped-for BluRay release which Warner Bros. should be announcing any day now. And day now. Any day now...