Eye For Film >> Movies >> Eight Legged Freaks (2002) Film Review
It's depressing to think about God-awful abominations, such as Men In Black II and (wa wa wicky wicky) Wild Wild West making more than $200million at the US box office and yet something as original and refreshing as this barely earning back its budget. Perhaps an autumn release would have suited ELF. But then any movie opening opposite MIIB and taking a portion of its audience is fine by me.
While he may not be the best director in town, executive producer Roland Emmerich knows what makes a good movie and his hobby seems to be lampooning paranoid Fifties sci-fi. Think of Independence Day (a War Of The Worlds update) or Godzilla (another radioactivity created monster). Do these movies want to be taken seriously? No, of course not. They were made to entertain and that they do with reckless abandon.
Eight Legged Freaks is another take on Fifties paranoia. Don't mistake this for an Arachnophobia clone. ELF does not make the goof of creating small monsters. They are massive. The cause for this mutation? Radioactivity. Only, when these suckers bite you they won't turn you into Peter Parker camping it up in a bad Sam Raimi movie.
David Arquette plays goofball Chris McCormick, who returns to his hometown of Prosperity, Arizona, only to find it on the verge of bankruptcy. The only chance the town has of making money is to agree the storage of toxic waste in the abandoned gold mines. The shady mayor - is there any other kind? - is already in league with the chemical companies. But unknown to anyone, a rogue barrel has somehow ended up in the lake.
Tom Noonan makes a cameo appearance as the weirdo Spider Farm owner, who feeds his little babies food caught in said lake. A couple of weeks later...BAM!! Spider City.
Ellory Elkayem's feature debut is an expansion of his short movie Larger Than Life. He handles the far-fetched hokum very well and with a constant sense of humour - the cat being eaten off-screen is hilarious. It's weird that a film with a 12A certificate can get away with so much death. Many, many extras are offed by the ELF, which squirt multi-coloured puss and goo everywhere when they are squished. Perhaps the movie's only failing is that it kills off too many innocent people. While not graphic, there's no big fun in human death.
The script is better than you would expect. There is enough character, situation and invention to elevate beyond its roots. It's hard to pull off a B-movie making fun of B-movies, but ELF ends up being a better film than mainstream crud, such as Minority Report or Reign Of Fire.
Think of it as Tremors with spiders and having the imagination of Gremlins - only better. Plus, it stars Kari Wuhrer (oh baby!).Reviewed on: 22 Feb 2003