Synopsis – A species of South American killer spider hitches a lift to the U.S. in a coffin and starts to breed and kill – Arachnophobia
Director – Frank Marshall
For fans of – Evolution, Eight Legged Freaks, Tremors
First of all, it’s important to understand that Arachnophobia shouldn’t be taken seriously, comedy rather than horror is paramount in this production. The characters are stereotypes and the idea that a South American spider would cause this much trouble in a small US town is very unlikely, that said, the production does find time to inject the plot with a few moments of tension and horror, in between the multiple moments of comic relief and goes part of the way towards explaining why I find this film so enjoyable.
As for the story, the closest I can think of in terms of tone is Gremlins (1984) though the spiders are definitely not as funny or cute as the Mogwai. They’re small, fast and much more deadly, they still lead to some comic situations, especially when John Goodman is involved and just like in the 84 horror classic, the animatronics are a thing of beauty, not showing their age in the same way early CGI creations would have.
In inventive camera work is another delight, it’s clear that director Frank Marshall wanted to make something more than just another b-movie creature feature, instead, he wanted to produce a film that was infinitely rewatchable for reasons other than it being so bad, it’s good, my only complaint would be about the relative predictability of the plot, there was most assuredly room for more shocking twists and turns in this rather straight forward story where the people you think will die, die, and the people you think will live, live.
To sum things up, Frank Marshall did an admirable job to create somewhat of a cult classic that benefits from a strong script, wonderful casting, actors who are clearly having fun in their roles and the injection of just enough comic relief to keep the story light. Jeff Daniels is as reliable as ever, but it’s John Goodman’s who steal the show as the over-the-top exterminator.