Plot: What’s it about?
When movies about animals attacking come around, a few come to mind. Recently we have Anaconda, which pits a huge snake against our heroes; then there’s Godzilla and some others. Spiders, though, strike a chord with a lot of people as most of us hate them. Yes, they’re little and most are harmless, but it’s those big, furry tarantulas that really make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Eight Legged Freaks seems to know this and wastes no time showing all the little furry freaks they can. Comparisons are sure to come up between this and Arachnophobia, starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman. True, it’s been 12 years since that movie first came out, but when it comes to the world of spiders, that really isn’t very long. About the only thing I can say about them both is this…you essentially get arachnophobia after watching either movie (if you didn’t have it already). Sad, but true. So while the Producers of Eight Legged Freaks had a lot more commercial success with Independence Day and Godzilla; they’re back, albeit under a different director, with Eight Legged Freaks.
I’ll try and not to spend a whole lot of time on the plot, as the people who made this film didn’t seem to either. We have a tired truck driver who, in order to avoid hitting a rabbit in the road, swerves and misses. But, as fate would have it, a drum of radioactive waste falls off the truck and lands in a pond that’s conveniently located next to a spider farm. After the owner feeds his spiders bugs from the now contaminated pond, he notices that they start to grow bigger and faster. Do you think he lives to sell the spiders and and make his millions? All the while, the son of sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) seems to know what’s happening from the get go, but even as he admits – no one ever listens to the kid. But wait…there’s more! Chris McCormack (David Arquette) has come back into town after a ten year absence to take over his now deceased father’s dream of finding methane in the mines. But with the town bordering on bankruptcy, morale is low and an impending sale to the government looks like the only way out. Drama! Action! Adventure! Spiders!!!
Yes, that was a bit over the top, but then again that’s how Roland Emmerich has made his name in this business. His over the top efforts in ID4 and Godzilla somehow always give just the right amount of plot and action to satisfy most audiences. But, the man behind the camera here is Ellory Elkayem, a native of New Zealand who created the original film short that caught the eye of a Hollywood producer. Now we have a big budget movie. I guess it’s just that easy! While this genre is almost entirely extinct, it does play to some of the films that inspired it, most notably from the 1950’s (Tarantula, Them!). If this is your type of thing, then you’ll like the film. Don’t take it too seriously though and you’ll be a lot happier when the closing credits roll. And, once again, this is a movie where what you think will happen, does.
Video: How does it look?
Warner has gone to a new method of their DVD’s in that a lot of them come in separate widescreen and pan and scan versions. Such is the case with Eight Legged Freaks. The 2.35:1 anamorphic image is very clear and solid throughout. Some of the interior scenes do suffer from a bit of grain, but for the most part the image looks crystal clean. This, of course, is to be expected from Warner, who puts out some of the better transfers on DVD. Edge enhancement is present, but it’s very minimal. The CGI effects, of which there are many, aren’t too bad but again, suspend your disbelief and it will make things much better. Overall it’s another great-looking transfer from Warner.
Audio: How does it sound?
One thing that can be said for movies under the "Emmerich" label is that they’re awesome when it comes to sound. For years, my Independence Day Laser Disc was the thing I used to blow people away. While Eight Legged Freaks isn’t quite that good, it does have a lot of subtle surround effects that get you a little more involved in the film. There are a number of little movements that come from the surrounds, spiders walking, naturally and they sound great. The LFE is used to some extent as well. Though the fronts do their part, this makes for an overall great-sounding track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Eight Legged Freaks does have its share of extras as well. In addition to the feature-length commentary track with Arquette and some of the others, there are some pretty cool features. The commentary track is one I liked, as I couldn’t stop laughing when I listened to the track on Ready to Rumble. Hearing Arquette and Scott Caan get more and more progressively drunk throughout was worth the time! However, he isn’t quite as entertaining here, but it’s still a fun, fact-filled track. Some deleted scenes are also shown, though with no commentary or explanation to them, we have to wonder why they were cut? Presented in a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 image, they have temporary titles on them and it seemed a questionable feature. Next up are some text-based screens that tell of the movies that inspired this one. Namely Them! and Tarantula as well as some other notable animal attack movies. The original short that inspired this movie, "Larger Than Life" is also here in its entirety. The image is black and white, presented in a non-anamorphic transfer. Rounding out the supplements are a theatrical trailer and some DVD-ROM material.