"Eight Legged Freaks" (2002) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #46 Gem Mint 10.0
“Eight Legged Freaks“ (2002)
Director: Ellory Elkayem
Writer: Ellory Elkayem (story, screenplay), Randy Kornfield (story), Jesse Alexander (screenplay)
Starring: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief sexuality and language
Runtime: 1h 39min
Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror, Fantasy/Sci-Fi
“Venomous spiders get exposed to a noxious chemical that causes them to grow to monumental proportions.”
You might like this if you like: horror movies, cheesy horror movies, spiders I guess (not a fan of them but loved this movie), comedies, spoofs, 50s Sci-Fi, David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug, "Tremors" franchise, zombie movies, monster movies, giant monster movies, survival movies, Steven Spielberg, "Mad Max" franchise, Netflix's "Stranger Things", "Buffy" perhaps? "Spider-Man"? Sam Raimi's/Tobey Maguire's "Spider-Man" trilogy maybe.
David Arquette & Kari Wuhrer in "Eight Legged Freaks" (2002)
"Eight Legged Freaks" was a huge favorite of mine growing up! I have no idea how I got my hands on this film in the first place or why I was interested at all in having it in my collection. I was probably too young to appreciate any filmmaking aspects of the movie but maybe would've recognized David Arquette from NBC's "Friends" or "Scream" (1996). As big of a Scarlett Johansson fan as I am now (cannot wait for "Black Widow" movie), I don't think I had any idea who was she was when I first saw this and could easily be the first thing I ever saw her in.
Another reason I'm surprised I owned / watched this so many times growing up is that I have a decently sized fear of spiders. They're not my favorite. So the idea of watching, owning, re-watching and more is strange to me, but upon a 2020 re-watching and with my fiance who hadn't seen it before, I felt I understood what I loved about it so much; it's an action-packed, drive-in, modern monster B-movie! They make it fun, maybe it's the cast, the setting or the fact that I just love disaster/monster movies! I think it's getting to exploring my phobia through cinema which is what I love about it so much.
"Eight Legged Freaks" (2002)
For its B-movieness, which shouldn't be a negative term in anyone's books, it's filled with cleveriness, comedy and echoes the adventure and mystery of some of Spielberg's classics. All at the same time embracing the genre and B-movie culture it's living in.
The effects are great! I try not to take this film too seriously as it's very funny and is pretty self conscious of what it's trying to make, let alone what it's called itself. It's genuinely funny to me as well as completely campy funny. It's a great blend if you're into that sorta thing! Keep in mind though it's still paying a lot of homage to its horror genre brethren.
Kari Wuhrer in "Eight Legged Freaks" (2002)
Kari Wuhrer is great in this film as the leading police officer mom. I haven't seen her anything since but re-watching in 2020 her performance really stood out to me. Watching Scarlett in a role she was so young in and knowing how far she's come in her career is just a treat to watch. It's like you know the future and this 2002 version of Johansson has no idea. It's the beauty of photography, recording, capturing a moment. Just the fact that you get to see her in a fun, cheesy horror movie makes it enjoyable enough. Scott Terra does a fantastic job as well as our lead kiddo.
It's got that good mix of ensemble of three different generations seen through the family of Wuhrer, Johansson and Terra's. Reminds me of "Logan" (2017) a little bit but with a small town vibe to it. More in the sense of "Stranger Things" or some of Spielberg's older work and they do a wonderful job paying homage to it! I thought they created a really likeable family to watch go through a disaster/monster attack.
Scott Terra (left), Matt Czuchry (middle) & Scarlett Johansson (right) in "Eight Legged Freaks" (2002)
So if you want something fun, crazy, silly and action-packed this one could be the place to start!
Written by Sam Gall on 09/22/20
CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0
"A fun, fantastic homage to the B movies of the golden age of horror cinema..." - Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"Fun comedy horror that recognizes its limitations and revels in its own absurdity, though too polite to be a classic in its genre." - Andrew Manning, Radio Free Entertainment
"After rolling out the trusty old 'radiocative barrel in the lake' routine, Eight Legged Freaks flips through the pages of the monster movie manual - written in the 50s by classics such as Them and Tarantula - and doesn't miss a trick." - Urban Cinefile Critics, Urban Cinefile
"A ridiculous but enjoyably campy 'creature feature' that serves as the logical extension of goosey, B-movie matinee shenanigans in a world gone 'X-treme.'" - Brent Simon, Entertainment Today
"'Eight Legged Freaks is drive-in-flavored arachnid anarchy...[a]cinematic fun ride where creepy-crawly things constantly pop out from off-screen.'" - Anita Schmaltz, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
"...I thoroughly checked for spiders under my pillow before I went to bed." - Blake French, Nutzworld
Available on various VOD platforms
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