Monday, October 13, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS

Only now does it occur to me...  that EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS ain't that bad!  For years, I'd judged this film by its (SyFy-channel?) cover and deemed it an unwatchable CGI shitstorm.  While, in fact, there is more CGI than you can shake a severed spider leg at, I really admired its goofy sensibility. 
It's a throwback to the classic creature features and is fun in a very sincere way– it never self-consciously draws attention to its apparent "badness" –therefore, it's more "TREMORS" than "SNAKES ON PLANE."  Other clear points of reference are ARACHNOPHOBIA (killer spiders in a small town), JURASSIC PARK (a kid expert proves invaluable), DAWN OF THE DEAD (they hole up in a mall), and GREMLINS (the spiders eventually start making 'yippee!' and 'humuna-humuna-humuna' noises, not unlike the evil Mogwai).  All of this is appreciated.  

Anyway, I guess my point is: the world needs more giant killer spider movies.  

Also of note: David Arquette goes whole hog, screaming things "THEY'RE HEEEEEEEEERE!" and "YOU EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS!" 
with legitimately insane élan.  I'd grown used to thinking of David as the least of the Arquettes, but between this, the SCREAM series and his channeling of Steven Weber in RIDING THE BULLET, he's making a strong case for himself.

I also really like this tableau, whereupon a man in a Jason Vorhees-style hockey mask hacks away with a chainsaw, Leatherface-style, at a horde of CGI spiders.  And I daresay we're looking at a nearly Argento-ish color palette.

Finally, I must give special mention to an uncredited Tom Noonan (character acting legend and part-time horror film personality, thanks to MANHUNTER, THE X-FILES, and THE MONSTER SQUAD).  He first appears as a cricket-obsessed creepster (with shades of Dwight Frye in DRACULA?)
who we then discover is only a lovable spider expert and mentor-figure,
though he's still got the eerily calm, nearly threatening vocal intonations Noonan fans have grown to love.  By the eight minute mark, he's killed by an entire room of spiders
...but that's okay.  I'll tip my hat to ya, EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS!



Cannon said...

I always remember the off-handed reference to Arquette's facial hair—that it looks like a "stripper's crotch".

Honestly, though, I saw this at the sexually berserker age of 22, and thus found myself slack-jawed broadsided by Cinemax legend Kari Wührer and a 17-yearold 'who-is-that?!' Scarlett Johansson occupying the same frame.

I mean, sure, giant spiders and dirt bikes was fun but, Jesus, the honeys...

Sean Gill said...


Yeah, that's a good line about Arquette's goatee! And indeed EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS has quite an array of beauties to offset the hordes of CGI spiders. It's also amusing to me that there really was a five-or-so year period where Kari Wuhrer could co-headline a legitimate movie (EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS, THINNER, etc.), next thing you know, it's HELLRAISER 7 and SHARKNADO 2.

Mike Bradley said...

I too have come around on David Arquette. He's not so much a "poor man's Edward Norton," as he is an "Edward Norton whose movies are much more entertaining to folks like me!" And, let me say, I am AMPED to see the "Halloween Countdown" gimmick returning -- this is going to be a good month!

Sean Gill said...

Thanks, Mike– I wish I had the time to do a proper, daily Halloween countdown, but I'm at least going to step it up this month with more than usual!

J.D. Lafrance said...

Yeah, count me in as a fan of Arquette's. This film and ROADRACERS are probably my faves of his and the examples where he's allowed to cut loose with his own particular brand of acting.

Sean Gill said...


We're definitely on the same page now. I remember your praise for Arquette and ROADRACERS– it's been near the top of my to-see list for a few months now, but I'm currently caught in Halloween fever. Soon, though!