Eight Legged Freaks is being released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on July 20th 2021. The transfer has received a new 2K scan of the interpositive. Special features:
Audio commentary by writer/director Ellory Elkayem, actors David Arquette and Rick Overton, and producer Dean Devlin
It’s an Invasion! The Making of Eight Legged Freaks – Interviews with writer/director Ellory Elkayem, producers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, actors Doug E. Doug and Rick Overton, composer John Ottman, make-up effects artist Bill Johnson, and animal trainer Cris Rankin (new)
Eight deleted scenes
Larger Than Life – 1998 short film written and directed by Ellory Elkayem
Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:
‘Let the squashing begin!’
Eight Legged Freaks is a 2002 American science fiction comedy horror film directed by Ellory Elkayem (They Nest; Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis; Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave) from a screenplay co-written with Jesse Alexander, based on a storyline co-written with Randy Kornfield. The movie stars David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra and Scarlett Johansson.
The residents of a rural mining town discover that an unfortunate chemical spill has caused hundreds of little spiders to mutate overnight to the size of SUVs.
Mining engineer Chris McCormack (David Arquette) and Sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer) have to mobilise an eclectic group of townspeople into battle against the bloodthirsty eight-legged beasts…
While many film studios can no doubt compete, nobody quite has the lock on the idea of a good old-fashioned monster movie the way that Universal Pictures did. That spinning-globe logo at the start will always suggest something wonderful and nasty just around the corner. Of course, in fin du Siecle jaded culture and nerdcore post-modernism of the late 20th/early 21st century, the label started trading in on that legacy for tongue-in-cheek remakes and tributes.
One of them, Tremors (1989), did a dandy job of being smart, exciting and funny all at once. Eight Legged Freaks isn’t very smart at all but has its entertaining moments as a retro-style creature feature, luxuriating in awareness that it’s nothing more than dumb, cinematic escapism and salute to such late-night TV-slotted bug epics as Them, Earth vs. the Spider and Universal’s own Tarantula and The Deadly Mantis.
The setting is the usual ironically-named dying desert town, here a forlorn place called Prosperity, Arizona, where the questionable get-rich-quick investments of the mayor (Leon Rippy) include an ostrich farm, a shopping mall and a secret deal to store corporate toxic waste down some abandoned local gold-mining shafts. The chemicals pollute the crickets preyed upon by a menagerie of exotic spiders kept by a local weirdo, and before long there are huge mutant arachnids, man-sized and bigger, mummifying hapless townsfolk, hunting down off-road bikers, and violating the inverse-square law in general.
Spearheading the fight against the monsters is a local prodigal (David Arquette) a Harry Potter-lookalike precocious kid (Scott Terra), the pretty lady sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) and rapper Doug E. Doug as the resident ranting conspiracy buff. The characters’ ultimate method of pest control is telegraphed early on and painfully predictable, but at least none of the wide-eyed human performances upstage the real stars of the show, the digitally-imaged spiders. They fill the screen in generous portions and marvellously twitchy detail (but with CGI just imperfect and ill-matched enough to be charming) and bark, cackle and cough with silly vocalizations supplied by veteran voiceover artist Frank Welker (most recently voicing Scooby-Doo).
With all respect to New Zealand-transplanted writer-director Ellory Elkayam and X-Files cinematographer John S. Bartley, the artistic force behind Eight Legged Freaks would really seem to be the producer, German-born Roland Emmerich and Yankee Dean Devlin, the same culprits behind the fantasy pastiches Stargate, Independence Day and the 1998 Godzilla remake. They know their American B-movie horror kitsch inside and out, from the horny teenagers to bumbling lawmen, and in Eight Legged Freaks give fans of this sort of material (those who maintained with dual subscriptions to Starlog and Fangoria magazines) exactly what they expect. And probably deserve.
Charles Cassady Jr., MOVIES and MANIA
“Eight Legged Freaks is very PG-13. It’s very silly, very family. All the spiders are CGI and either giggle and scream like Gremlins when they’re being cute or they roar like lion’s when they’re attacking. And the hero is a kid who knows everything about spiders, but whom all the adults, including the bumbling cop, dismiss.” All Horror” All Horror
“It’s the filmmakers’ post-camp comprehension of what made old-time B movies good-bad that makes Eight Legged Freaks a perfectly entertaining summer diversion.” LA Weekly
“The minimal fun the movie supplies is dependent on people putting their hands where they shouldn’t be, or wandering into dark spaces where no one belongs. And the climax takes place in the moribund Prosperity Mall, a battle that’s a shameless steal from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. At least Freaks is smart enough to know it’s shameless.” The New York Times
“The movie’s director, Ellory Elkayem, has a sure comic touch […] I like the way he keeps the characters likable and daffy, and positions the spiders just this side of satire. The arachnids make strange non-spidery gurgles and chirps, are capable of double-takes…” Roger Ebert
“Everyone plays it for real, and it’s easy to suspend belief and enjoy the ride. Terrific effects with CGI and miniatures blending seamlessly and the music score is both exciting and playful. There are a few terrifying moments, but mostly it’s a hoot: a compelling combination of terror and fun.” Urban Cinephile
Cast and characters:
David Arquette … Chris McCormick
Kari Wuhrer … Sheriff Samantha Parker
Scott Terra … Mike Parker
Scarlett Johansson … Ashley Parker
Doug E. Doug … Harlan Griffith
Rick Overton … Deputy Pete Willis
Leon Rippy … Wade
Matt Czuchry … Bret
Jay Arlen Jones … Leon
Eileen Ryan … Gladys
Riley Smith … Randy
Matt Holwick … Larry
Jane Edith Wilson … Emma
Jack Moore … Amos
Roy Gaintner … Floyd
1 hour 39 minutes
DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1
Eight Legged Freaks took $17,231,006 theatrically.