Eight Legged Freaks

on July 17, 2002 by Paul Clinton
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   "Eight Legged Freaks" is a nostalgic trip back to 1950s mutant-insect movies--but with intentional humor and much better effects. Risibly fake giant insects hampered midnight drive-in shockers like "Tarantula" and "Them" which, instead of horror-thrillers, played as somewhat paranoid Cold War warnings about the use of nuclear weapons and scientific chemicals. But "Freaks" director Ellory Elkayem turns the genre on its head for laughs.

   "Freaks'" giant spiders are impressive special-effects inventions, but don't really stay on screen long enough to scare anyone. Instead, Elkayem relies on his characters' priceless reactions to the spiders. David Arquette, as the introverted Chris McCormack, climbs a radio tower to escape a swarm and yells "Get back, you eight-legged freaks." Other B-type dialogue--dirty jokes, overly emphatic declarations and other ripe lines--make the movie camp fun.

   Casting Arquette as Chris--who returns to his town only to find it overrun with spiders--was a smart move: His quirky sense of humor fits the mood perfectly. Kari Wuhrer, a contemporary B-queen (with roles in "Beastmaster 2" and "Anaconda"), brings a raw sensuality to her role as the town sheriff. Scarlett Johansson, an appealing and chameleonic performer, also shows up as the sheriff's daughter. Starring David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scarlett Johansson and Doug E. Doug. Directed by Ellory Elkayem. Written by Ellory Elkayem and Jesse Alexander. Produced by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. A Warner Bros. release. Horror. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief sexuality and language. Running time: 99 min

Tags: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug. Directed by Ellory Elkayem. Written by Ellory Elkayem and Jesse Alexander. Produced by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. A Warner Bros. release. Horror
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