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Eight Legged Freaks

Eight Legged Freaks

Back in 1954 Warner Brothers top grosser was Them staring giant ants mutated by nuclear testing in the southwest.  The tone in Them was serious; Eight Legged Freaks is mostly tongue-in-cheek with action filtered in via SUV size jumping spiders.

The spiders suddenly change size (they're no longer itsy-bitsy) when fed by the local arachnid collector from a polluted pond filled with toxic waste.  The collector's reward is to be wrapped in spider silk and prepared as the giant queen's lunch.

In Them the ants were models and signaled through a high pitch squeak; the eight legged spiders are computer generated images and send out a mumbling sound like the bright light fearing Gremlins.

David Arquette's Chris McCormick returns to his home town just in time to help his former girlfriend Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer), the town sheriff, organize the unique townspeople in their battle to survive the bloodthirsty spider attacks.

McCormick's father mined for gold under the town for years until the old mine ran out of gold, but some continue to believe there is a wide vein of solid gold under the new shopping mall.  Some also believe the mayor is responsible for allowing the toxic waste to be dumped in the water around the town and in the caverns which were once the gold mine.

With McCormick and Sheriff Parker on the job the town remains in trouble until they begin to listen to young Mike Parker (Scott Terra) who knows more about spiders than any of the adults.  Meanwhile his sister Ashley (Scarlett Johansson) carries out typical teen activity in a pickup truck while the spiders mingle around.

With nothing unexpected we see cocooned humans pierced and sucked up by spiders, spiders splashed on windshields, split in half by shotguns and crushed by large fuel tankers.  All while DJ Harlan Griffith (Doug E. Doug) is convinced aliens are attacking the town; no one listens because he always believes the town is under siege from aliens.

The CGI process allows many more spiders to appear crawling from floor to ceiling than the ant models fifty years ago and the difference in tone is obvious.  Them made us think about nuclear fallout; Eight Legged Freaks makes us laugh and think very little about toxic waste.

Eight Legged Freaks

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