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The Weekend Horror Double Bill: They’re going to need a really big slipper… March 18, 2007

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Horror , add a comment

Spiders (2000) Region 2

When you’re dealing with giant spider movies you can be pretty sure you’re in for some cheese, the question is will it be tasty cheddar or stinky Gorgonzola. Well in the case of Spiders it’s definitely the latter.

What we have here is an attempt to merge Alien with Arachnophobia, with a secret government experiment to combine extraterrestrial and spider DNA. A dim-witted reporter and her equally intellectually challenged crew stumble on to the scheme and end up trapped in a secret base with the hybrid spider.

The DVD sleeve says this is from the FX team who created From Dusk Till Dawn, Spawn and Wishmaster. That may be so but here they are responsible for some of the worst CGI effects I’ve ever seen. It’s bad enough when the film stays in the confined space of the base but when things head outside for the over the top climax with a spider of King Kong sized proportions, it’s so bad it’s not even funny.

Ineptly directed by Gary Jones, a man whose career highlight was working on the Xena and Hercules TV series, this was a real chore to sit through. Lead actress Lana Parrilla is a familiar face having had recurring roles in 24, NYPD Blue and Boomtown but here, with everything working against her, she’s not up to the task of saving a very bad movie, still even Sigourney Weaver couldn’t have salvaged this one.

Hard as it may be to believe they actually made a sequel to this abomination - Spiders II: Breeding Ground. Needless to say I’ll be avoiding that one like…well like a spider.

The film was shot in 1.85:1 but is presented here in a 4:3 transfer, perhaps this cropping of the image has turned a classic into a turkey but somehow I doubt it. The audio is stereo and clear enough for you to hear every badly written word of dialogue.

The only extra is a trailer.

Arachnid (2001) Region 2

Several rungs up the ladder from Spiders but still firmly in B Movie territory, this alters the mix replacing Alien with Predator as a group of intrepid scientists and soldiers head for an isolated island to find out what’s been killing the natives.

Jack Sholder made the extremely enjoyable low budget SF movie The Hidden and while this comes nowhere near that’s level of competence he knows how to generate some tension. What lets this down most is a badly written script with some poorly realised characters. There is also an ill conceived plot twist that ties one of the characters to a plane that went down on the island years before.

The effects are pretty poor, although compared to Spiders they’re the height of realism. This time it’s the special effects crew of Species and The Abyss doing the business. Those films showed what they could do when a ton of Hollywood money was thrown at the film, here we see what they can do on a shoestring budget and they deserve an A for effort even if the finished product is a little lacking.

The cast is the usual bunch of nobodies that you’ve never heard of and probably never will. Given a script that requires the characters to act in the most ridiculous manner it’s not fair to blame the actors too much and no one stands out as particularly bad. Or particularly good either.

Produced in Spain by Re-Animator’s Brian Yuzna this must rank as one of the low points of his career as it must for Jack Shoulder who never fulfilled the promise of The Hidden.

The film gets a decent 1.85:1 transfer on DVD. The picture quality is even good in the night scenes, of which there are a lot. The Dolby Surround soundtrack gets the job done, although a 5.1 track could have added a lot to the atmosphere.

No extras.

Next Week: Watchers and Phantoms

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