Arachnophobia is a horror movie I saw way back when I was just a little Rich Knight. Back then, it terrified me. Does it have the same affect today? No. No, it doesn’t. Spiders don’t scare me for the same reason that mummies and George Romero’s old time zombies don’t scare me. They’re too slow. For faster, more horrifying buggers, see centipedes. Those bastards are way faster, and about a million times uglier. That said, it’s always spiders that get all the marquee time, and Arachnophobia is probably the most famous of those films. Back when I was younger, the flick scared the crap out of me, especially that scene near the end where a house is infested with them. But it doesn’t hold up today when it comes to creature features. Anaconda this ain’t.
Arachnophobia’s plot is dumb and boring. There’s a newly discovered spider found in Venezuela that gets transported to a small town and breeds a new, deadly race of arachnids. These eight-legged-freaks wreak havoc, but not before a lot of lackluster exposition and poor pacing. Jeff Daniels stars as a town doctor with arachnophobia, but he doesn’t add much to the film. The only genuinely good part is John Goodman as a goofy exterminator, but he isn’t in the movie nearly enough. And would you believe his next three films after this were probably the best in his career? Goodman followed up this flick with King Ralph, Barton Fink, and The Babe. Wow, Arachnophobia sure did liven up his career!
But why, I’ll never know. There’s a reason people remember this film but never talk about it. It’s awful! It’s meant to be a horror comedy (Or a “thrill-omedy,” which is the dumbest word I’ve ever heard), but it’s not funny. Unless you count frequent shots of the king spider’s eyes up close, which comes across as pretty laughable onscreen. But I think the main problem with this film is that it’s just too slow. It’s not until late in the film that we get to some serious spider action. When the action happens, my favorite moment is still a scene that has lived with me to this very day. It features a spider setting up shop in a bowl of popcorn, waiting for its hapless victims to take a bite. I haven’t been able to eat popcorn from a bowl since that very moment.
That’s pretty much where the scares end though. If you have arachnophobia (Which my editor does, which is why she sent me the movie since she couldn’t watch it herself), then this movie might chill you to the bone. But if spiders don’t bother you like they don’t bother me, then this film will most likely bore you to tears. It’s not even worth watching for nostalgia’s sake. Pass on this one, folks. Arachnophobia is an old, unloved film that came out in 1990, so you know what that means—no good special features to speak of. What we have here is your typical, DVD features that were probably already on the DVD and that don’t add up to much on the Blu-ray. “Production Featurette” features a really corny announcer talking about how this isn’t like your ordinary horror film (He’s right, it’s worse) and that it’s the first “thrill-omedy” of its kind. Really? Thrill-omedy? Just saying that word makes me want to puke. Thrill-omedy, thrill-omedy, thrill-omedy. Oh, God. I think I’m going to hurl.
The “Frank Marshall Feauturette” feels like the exact same thing as the “Production Featurette.” In it, Frank Marshall—this is his first film, by the way—talks about how they had to find just the right kind of spider for the film. He also talks about how this is a film that is not just trying to scare you, but trying to make you laugh. But as I’ve said earlier, it’s not funny. Marshall saying Arachnophobia is funny doesn’t help his case.
Next is the “Venezuela Sequence” feature, which feels like it’s only twenty seconds long. In it, we see shots of the opening scene of the movie, and then the segment is over before you know it. It goes by so quickly I’m unsure why it needed to even be on the disc. Finally, there’s the trailer for the film, which makes the movie look even cheesier than it already is, if that’s even possible. Honestly, this is a terrible movie with terrible special features. What you remember about the film is surely much better than what the film actually is. Keep those memories of the movie in your head and don’t pick up this disc.
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