HTF REVIEW: "Eight Legged Freaks" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 19, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Eight Legged Freaks

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 99 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish

    Creepy Crawly, Creepy Crawly....
    You know, I might have liked Eight Legged
    Freaks for a single moment if I knew what
    kind of film this was trying to be. Is it a comedy?
    If it is, it's not funny. Is it a horror movie? If so,
    there isn't anything here to be frightened of. Is it a
    send up of those eerie 50s films? Well, perhaps
    that is the one formula this film manages
    to replicate better than anything else. The problem
    is, the elements for this film is perhaps too ancient
    for the audiences it wants.
    As our story begins, a truck carrying nuclear
    materials swerves to avoid a rabbit and a barrel
    falls into a large pond. An exotic spider farmer
    by the name of Joshua (Tom Noonan) begins feeding
    the spiders crickets that came from this pond.
    The spiders increase in size and soon enough some
    begin escaping from their cages. As one of the
    nasty critters attacks Joshua, he manages to knock
    down every single spider cage thereby releasing
    these mutated spiders into the wild.
    Meet Mike Parker (Scott Terra). He is your average
    classic nerd 10-12 year old kid. He happens to
    visit his friend Joshua at his farm only to find
    out that the spiders have escaped. Not only escaped,
    but that they have grown to a phenomenal size. As
    animals start disappearing, Harlan (Doug E. Doug),
    a local radio DJ begins telling people that aliens
    have come to earth.
    Then there's Chris McCormack (David Arquette)who
    has decided to come back to Prosperity in order
    to find gold that his father had allegedly discovered.
    Meanwhile, he finds himself falling for the extremely
    attractive Sheriff, Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer). Things
    come to an abrupt halt as the giant spiders begin
    moving into town, killing humans.
    While fans of the sort of 50s genre this is based
    on will probably love what they see, I think most
    everyone else will have to somewhat lower their
    expectations before heading into this mindless
    popcorn thriller.
    How is the transfer?
    Though Warner Brothers has a reputation for doing
    phenomenal transfers with their current film
    product, Eight Legged Freaks comes just
    short of being as impressive. The picture, while
    quite clear, is rather soft and not as overly
    detailed as I would have hoped. Most of the film
    looks sort of bland, lacking any sort of color
    detail (due to is desert setting), that is, until
    the last quarter of the film where we are treated
    to all the vibrant colors of a shopping mall where
    the townsfolk have been corned by an army of
    mutated arachnids. Colors and flesh tones are
    very accurate throughout. The effects work shows
    up very nicely here with superb shadow and detail
    of the spiders who crawl in broad daylight.
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is the real disappointment
    here. While the front sound stage is extremely
    vibrant and bass-heavy (listen to the beats of
    the opening film score), the rears and the LFE
    channel remain mostly silent throughout. This is
    a serious problem for a film that should sound
    creepy - but doesn't. I could just imagine what
    a better film this would be if I would have felt I
    was surrounded by these giant spiders crossing my
    rear channels. Instead, I sat watching this film in
    complete safety as all the audio remained in the
    Special Features
    Call the exterminator, there are spiders crawling
    on your television screen. At least, that is the
    impression you will get when you arrive at the Main
    Menu. The entire menu structure is cleverly made
    out to look like those 50s B-movie promotional posters.
    The DVD features a full-length commentary
    by director Rick Overton, co-writer Ellory Elkayem,
    producer Dean Delvin and co-stars David Arquette,
    and Rick Overton. This fun-loving group are all
    together in the recording studio and seem to have
    a great time poking fun at the absurdities of their
    film. We find out that the film was mostly shot
    in two main locations in Arizona. The town of
    Superior was where all the town scenes were shot.
    An abandoned mall was found in Glendale. It was
    also here where all the mines sets were built.
    One of the things we find out is how really
    quickly this movie was filmed -- practically being
    thrown together -- and how Cinematographer John
    Barkley (The X Files) was able to photograph it
    so beautifully (or at least Elkayem thought so).
    We also find out how difficult it was to do
    the animated special effects in bright daylight.
    Much credit is given to these effect artists.
    Animatronics were never used in the film, so in
    order to shoot this film prior to the addition
    of the effects, the filmmakers used dolls and
    fiberglass legs to help give reference points to
    the animators. This commentary is a real hoot to
    listen to -- especially due to the fact that all
    the participants are joking amongst each other,
    enjoying the total campiness of the film.
    There are 13 minutes of deleted scenes that
    are rather dull. Most of them are very short, and
    add nothing to the film. The highlights are:
    * What was to be an original opening for the film, we
    cut from a traffic accident to the Prosperity mall
    where we meet the mall custodian peering into some unethical activity.
    * Deep inside the mines, we get a little bit
    of background history on Chris McCormack's father.
    * Mike Parker receives a special gift from his Dad.
    * Chris visits his father's grave, then drives
    out to the Prosperity Mall.
    * Little Mike Parker snooping around.
    * An alternate ending to the film that doesn't
    alter the direction of the film.
    As I stated, most of this stuff is pretty lame.
    Larger than Life is the Director's original
    13-minute B&W short that ultimately inspired the
    making of Eight Legged Freaks. In a very
    similar story line, a chemical mishap causes a
    single spider to mutate and attack a housewife.
    This is a pretty neat short (precise and to the
    point), and I can see why it ultimately helped
    Elkayem get his feature green lighted by the studio.
    Warner Brothers is touting this rather cool
    Creepy Crawly Giants Essay, but don't be's merely a promotional vehicle for
    another one of studio's horror greats.
    In addition to a rather nice cast and crew
    filmography, the film's original theatrical
    trailer is included.
    Pop in the DVD-ROM and access a really
    great game that puts you in the middle of a mall
    with a crossbow as you hunt for mutant spiders,
    picking up many objects along the way. No doubt
    many of you will enjoy playing this one! There
    are also links to various Warner Brothers promo
    Final Thoughts
    From my best estimates, Eight Legged Freaks
    is a homage to the drive-in classics of yesteryear.
    The problem is, it's hard to figure out if the
    filmmakers have purposely created a B-grade monster
    flick for the modern age, or just a really bad movie.
    Rent it first to find out.
    Release Date: October 29, 2002
  2. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Missed this one in theaters but really wanted to see it because I think it looked so much like those old 50s B-movies, so it looks like I wont be disappointed. Nice review Ron!!

    Now how about some screenshots of Scarlett Johanneson(SP)!!?
  3. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

    Oct 16, 1998
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    Nice review, Ron. I saw this in theatres expecting it to be a bad movie, and it was. I still had quite a good time though, in a goofy, sub-Tremors sort of way. I remember it looked quite soft theatrically, especially the spiders themselves which lacked real fine detail. Still can't decide whether to buy it on DVD (Kari Wuhrer's presence may push me over, though [​IMG]).
  4. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

    Oct 6, 2001
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    Saw this one on its way out of theatres, though I guess it was never really in them for that long to begin with. [​IMG] Not bad, a fun little movie. I don't think I'll fork over the bucks for this one, but I enjoyed seeing those screenshots! Thanks for all your hard work, Ron! [​IMG]
  5. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

    Mar 13, 2002
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    I don't know, I saw this with some friends late one night in the theaters, and we all had a good time. It had some funny moments, and I enjoyed all the spiders. I might pick it up if I find it cheap enough. Great review Ron!
  6. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

    Mar 15, 1999
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    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    John Williamson
    Great review Ron. However, as with your review of Scooby Doo, I can only take your great review into consideration as I really want to see this film. I love films like this and am quite confident that i'm going to enjoy it.
    It's a real shame about the 5.1 though, I was counting on having my room rocking with spiders. [​IMG]
    On the other hand, Kari Wuhrer! [​IMG]
  7. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

    Apr 25, 2000
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    London, England
    Real Name:
    Steve Christou
    Saw this at the cinema, enjoyed it, but it seemed to fall apart in the last 30mins with just endless shouting and running around tunnels, I thought it would never end.
    Some nice effects.
    Tremors was much cheaper and much more enjoyable.
    I'll get ELF next year, too many new dvds to pick up in the next couple of months.
  8. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

    Dec 4, 2001
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    is it me, or is one of the screenshots showing very neatly the trick they use to have a truck slide sideways??
    look at the wheels!

  9. Dan Kaplan

    Dan Kaplan Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 17, 2002
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    I don't think it's just you ... dem wheels ain't on the ground! Good observation. [​IMG]
    My impression of the movie is 100% based on TV trailers, not having seen it. Based on that limited knowledge, I expect nothing less than shoddy special effects and editing, so a goof up like that doesn't surprise me.
  10. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

    Jan 18, 2002
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    Let me tell you, this flick is 100 times more enjoyable than the team's earlier efforts such as INDEPENDECE DAY or GODZILLA.

    I enjoyed it for what it was. It's worth a rental at least, but beware of the foolscreen version.
  11. Sebastien David

    Sebastien David Second Unit

    Dec 4, 2001
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    Steve, I think that this really is a matter of taste, as I'm not sure the majority of people would agree with you. For example, I found Gozilla and ID:4 to be very enjoyable movies that didn't take themselves too seriously.

    They were major blockbuster, this film seems to have been somewhat of a flop, and I think part of that is due to the relatively higher entertainment value of the two aforementioned juggernauts compared with FLF.

  12. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

    Jan 18, 2002
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    Of course it is a matter of taste. I stated my opinion.

    ID4 was a hit, but GODZILLA didn't exactly set the box office on fire in the US. Of course, it wasn't really a GODZILLA movie.

    There is a great line in the latest Japanese Godzilla flick, GMK. During a news report in the movie, mention is made of a giant monster having attacked the US. They state that while the Americans claimed it was Godzilla, Japanese scientists had disproven it.

    Classic slam on the Tri-Star film. Really clever yet subtle.

    Anyway, I still think EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS is easily the winner. You'll notice I recommended people to RENT it though. The others I saw once and never have to see again.
  13. Eugene Esterly

    Eugene Esterly Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2002
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    Great Review Ron. Sounds like a good movie. I will probably pick this up this Saturday (I purchase many of my DVD's from Best Buy or Circuit City on Saturdays)
  14. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

    Aug 1, 2002
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  15. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

    Jan 1, 1999
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    I think Ron hit the nail on the head saying that Eight Legged Freaks didn't know if it was a comedy film or a horror film.

    Tremors got it right, perfectly blending humor and horror. The trick is, they took the horror seriously while allowing the humans to interact in a humorous manner.

    Eight Legged Freaks kept puncturing the horror with the humor, like giving the spiders little funny moans when they died or playing the human characters like cartoon figures. There also wasn't much by way of character stories, while Tremors is rich in little conflicts and such.

    Still, Eight Legged Freaks is basically "my kind of movie" so I enjoyed it as a rental. High marks go to the kid, who was not annoying as they usually are in these flicks, and to whomever decided to use "jumping spiders."

    OTT: I ripped out a huge jasmine vine on the side of our house two days ago and found hundreds of spiders living in it, about half of which were black widows. Not really what you want nesting just outside your bedroom window. (Also kicked out a possum and I felt bad about that, but I'm sure he'll find affordable housing elsewhere.)

  16. cosey jackson

    Feb 8, 2002
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    it was a great Halloween movie. I saw it at work with 8 teenages, & they loved it. I also liked it alot, & I am considering buying this dvd used. its just a fun movie.

  17. Dick

    Dick Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    First, the movie has one of the all-time most moronic titles ever. EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS? Sounds like a really dumb teen movie. And it almost is. But the effects are fairly good and there are moments that make it watchable. My opinion, also, is that it is infinitely more entertaining than GODZILLA (1998).
  18. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

    Sep 15, 1999
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    Saw this movie for the first time on DVD last week and I quite enjoyed it. Expected lots of giant spiders and got them. The funny thing is that nothing bothered me in this movie. During the movie never thought that this is silly or too teeny! Actually I didn’t get a teen movie feel at all. I think it quite well achieved the feeling of the old era!
  19. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
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    Amen to that, Sam. Great fun!

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