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Eight Legged Freaks
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: October 30, 2002
Running Time: approximately 99 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Giant spiders overrun an Arizona town, but they didn't count on David Arquette figuring out how to stop them. Who would?

  • Commentary by David Arquette, Rick Overton, director/co-writer Ellory Elkayem and producer Dean Devlin
  • Deleted Scenes (including alternate ending)
  • short film: Larger Than Life
  • photo essay: Creepy Crawly Giants
  • limited cast and crew information
  • theatrical trailer

    Choice Scene: Jumping spiders taking down a pack of dirtbikers. This sort of thing just doesn't happen enough in real life.

    Tech Specs: Wide Screen (1.85:1), English and French Dolby Digital 2.0, English, French and Spanish subtitles

    Sometimes a movie achieves greatness through superior camera work, excellent writing, and subtly nuanced performances from fine actors. And sometimes a movie just kicks ass because it promises giant spiders, admits that giant spiders are both a little hokey and a lot icky, and then wallows in the stupidity of its premise. Being giant spiders, of course.

    This is why when 2002 comes to a close, and other critics will be pushing rather snooty and high-minded Top Ten lists, Fanboy Planet may stand alone in having both its main film critics agree that Eight Legged Freaks belongs near the top. Like a regular-sized spider, the movie quietly crawled into theaters this past summer, then quickly skittered away before anybody could really turn the light on. Hmm. Maybe that's more like a cockroach. You can judge for yourself and read the original review here.

    At any rate, just before a slightly more popular spider movie debuted on DVD, Warner Home Video released Eight Legged Freaks to an unsuspecting video audience. Through its general unpretentiousness, it makes for an extremely satisfying experience.

    This DVD has revived my interest in audio commentary. Having fallen victim to too much inappropriate reverence for mediocre filmmaking, I listened to the track with dread. But the genial co-stars David Arquette and Rick Overton seem just so darned grateful to have had fun on the movie that it's infectious. Teamed with crappy movie king Dean Devlin and New Zealand director Ellory Elkayem, their commentary remains low-key and never out of proportion to what they've achieved.

    Best of all, these guys realize that when they have nothing to say, they shouldn't speak. For a change, most of their commentary is pretty incisive, and on a couple of occasions offering great tips for do-it-yourself effects. Next Halloween, my house will be well webbed.

    As can often be expected, the deleted scenes offer little to add depth to the movie. A couple of them provide details that you probably hadn't thought you needed. The alternate ending has the seed of an interesting visual idea, but that's about it. Elkayem and company chose wisely with the way they ended up going.

    Every time you see the name Elkayem you may be asking "who?" Warner has thoughtfully included his resume, in this case a short black and white film called Larger Than Life, which obviously inspired Eight Legged Freaks. The short proves that this guy has a firm handle on his visuals, knows how to build suspense without having to show too much, and has a great sense of humor. Even after watching the main feature, this short provides a few jumps and laughs. In fact, the only thing that would have made the full-length film cooler would have been if they could have done it in black and white, just like the old fifties movies that everybody involved clearly loves.

    In case you don't know what those are, the disc includes a brief history of giant insect movies (not just spiders), with stills from those films. It's almost too brief, though, and might have benefited from film clips, or just more pictures.

    But that's quibbling. If you missed this in the theaters, do yourself a favor and pick it up. And if you were one of the lucky, tasteful few who saw it on the big screen, you already know what you have to do.

    Eight Legged Freaks (Widescreen Edition)

    Derek McCaw


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