Arachnid; wherein Beth smashes a gigantic spider, proving her awesomeness forever.

October 31, 2008 at 12:28 am (movies) (, , , , )

 Hmm, to describe this movie. A tropical island is full of giant spiders running amok. And they’re actually from outer space. Yes, it’s that kind of movie, and it sounds awesomely funny.

Also, it has Alex Reid, who was great as Beth in The Descent, IMO the best against some very stiff competition. This was her first film, and she said in an interview that she thought she wishes she could go back and do it a bit different, but still, I wanted to see her in something else, plus this has the amusement factor of big alien spiders in the Caribbean.


The players:

The lead guy is a tool. A tool made out of cheese. He spends the first half-hour or so following Alex around cheesily trying to get in her pants while pretending he’s just being friendly. Did I mention he’s called Valentine? Every time someone says his name I imagine him holding a big heart-shaped box of chocolates and singing Barry White. And at one point he left Alex to stew waist-deep in a heavily spider-infested hole so he could pick every last bit of webbing off his hands. She was a lot less angry than I would be, it must be said. 


Mercer [Alex] started off pretty well though. She’s snarky, kind of funny and successfully elicited sympathy enough after having to put up with doctors bitching at her. Unfortunately, during the second half, she stops snarking, which is doubly a pity because Alex Reid is good at it, and Cheesetool and the two doctors stop giving her shit because they’re busy with the spiders. On the upside, she remains tough, not overtly stupid [for a B-movie, that’s quite the compliment] and sort of a badass, none of which I was expecting in a movie like this.


We had two doctors. One was called Suzanna. She started out being bitchy but not the snarky, funny or awesome kind [with one notable exception] and after the bitchiness went away she was sort of just there. I didn’t catch the other guy’s name, but he was even more non-awesome pissy, plus bossy and lacking much in the way of compassion. He was just the group antagonist, nothing more. 


Spider expert Capri is one of those guys who sees the world through his job, but it didn’t get annoying or anything. I like nerds and weird people besides, so I enjoyed his character.


Bear is a big tough guy who’s good with a gun, and that’s about it. His partner merc is another big tough guy, but mostly there to suffer a horrible and graphic fate – getting killed chestbursting Xenomorph style, except with gigantic ticks, while the supposed medical personal stand by looking mildly wigged. 


The natives of the island are sadly reduced to pure spiderbait. There was one who got a little time spent on him, Toeboy, but apart from that… No effort was made to give any of them a personality, they’re the first ones to die, and portrayed rather stereotypically. Yeah, that pissed me off.


So here are all my favourite parts. 

The whole opening was amazing. A jet pilot [and Alex’s brother] for some reason decides to fly after the big flying invisible-yet-shimmery thing that was making the whirlpool, even when his equipment was beeping off warnings about something or other. Plane fails, he ejects, abandoned plane crashes into shimmership. Even though we never saw any land at all, pilot and shimmership both land on an island. The pilot sees a shimmery transparent alien come out of the ship and get attacked by a giant spider [also from the ship, I think] that puts it’s legs through the alien’s chest. I’m not making any of this up. The spider then jumps onto the pilot and we go to black.


That thing with Cheesetool, and Mercer in a hole, it gets better. There’s something down there with her! The “something,” [a big spider, the original’s offspring] grabs her foot and is somehow making a good effort to drag her into the hole. There are so many things wrong with this scenario. What did it grab her with? How could a cat-sized spider be that strong? And how the fuck is the little eight-legged freak snarling and growling? Just… epic. I want to know who came up with that, and what they said to the sound effect folk. “I don’t think the scene feels threatening enough, could you add some growling noises?” “Uh, I don’t think spiders do that, sir.” “Maybe not, but these are giant spiders. They have… giant mouths!” “Whatever you say, sir.”


And then after the drama’s over her and Cheesetool’s shirts get stuck together by the webbing and they have to pull them off. Oh my god, now the alien mutant spider is sending its children to force everyone to strip! Everybody, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES CLOTHES! Seriously, that is far and away the most creative reason for fanservice I’ve ever seen. Simply amazing.


Mr Useless decides to get her boot back, and sticks his whole arm and head down the hole to get it. Consider it foreshadowing – later he will do something else all brave and chivalrous and completely fucking stupid, only that time there’ll be actual consequences. 


Somehow the spider is spawning mutant centipedes, ticks and the like. Just… I really don’t know how someone could actually be so dumb as to come up with this and think this makes sense while sober, so lets all assume whoever wrote this had been mixing their meds with alcohol… and lots and lots of crack. Good. Now sit back and enjoy your killer centipedes.


Spiderguy gets caught by the spider, right, and then even as the thing is finishing wrapping him up he’s blathering to his new friend about the different kinds of spider webbing. Bwah! Also, he’s upright, the thing is spraying the web all over him from directly above, yet his body is completely covered and his head is untouched. Hey, at least it’s not as bad as the centipede with a spider for a mother. Although there’s more, as once the team happens upon him, in the exact same scene, the spider just vanishes to give them their last moments together. Funnily enough, you don’t usually get movie villains who are so considerate and sensitive to their victim’s feelings [awwww] let alone spidervillains.


So it’s down to three people, since the natives have simply disappeared into thin air and Bear is off trying to get reception on the phone, a plot point that serves absolutely no purpose. They find some shelter, and fight the spider a little. Of course, Cheesetool decides to do something brave and heroic and incredibly, indescribably stupid. He runs out of bullets, and instead picks up a machete and runs right into it without even attacking. So of course the idiot gets himself bitten, and now the others can’t even shoot because he’s in the way. Worst. Hero. Ever. 


I kinda love how useless he is, though. There was that scene, right, and then because the wound wasn’t that deep he’s alive. But from this point on, pretty much all he does is get his poisoned ass half-carried about by everyone else. And when they pick up the slack on spider-fighting, we find that our leader/ex-marine/hired protection/gun enthusiast/hero is the only person in the movie who cannot shoot the huge target that is the spider. He kept missing it with each shot, over and over again, but the doctor and the pilot hit it like, every single time. It’s hilarious.


Oh, also cracking my shit up, no matter how many times they hit Spidey, they’re never able to even hold it up much. I mean, that thing must have gotten about thirty bullets in it’s abdomenon, but it’s not even bothered by it. What is it, made of kevlar?


Blah blah blah, Bear and Toeboy return, everybody hikes down to the caves to find the spider and kill it. And for some godforsaken reason, there appear to be dinosaur bones down there in the webbing. I guess the spider’s supposed to be all ancient and shit, only that’s ridiculous because it came from the spaceship at the beginning of the movie. The tagline even says “It’s coming from another world… To stay!” Maybe someone came up with one idea and someone else came up with another idea, and they had some sort of bet to see who’s idea made it into the movie, and then it ended in a tie and they decided “Let’s just throw them both in,” and then walked off with their arms around each others shoulders and possibly someone making a Casablanca reference. Maybe. 


The spider, chasing Alex? Looks completely ridiculous. Not as bad as the giant spider from Stephen King’s IT but still crap. Oh, and it ate Bear, too.


Oh, for fuck’s sake… Alex trips and the spider magically appears right over her. We didn’t hear it moving. Even though the camera was facing the direction it was coming from, we never saw it. Frankly, the idea that a spider bigger than a horse could be so stealthy in the first place is setting off my “doesn’t make sense” alarm bells, and they aren’t doing anything to help that. 


Alex and Toeboy take down the spider together. Didn’t expect that, but it doesn’t make up for all the earlier treatment of the natives. So, as they’re walking towards the beach, the camera pulls back to reveal they’re being watched by a giant… well, it looks like a grasshopper, or maybe a praying mantis. Hee. I am so enjoying the implication that the survivors are going to be eaten by a motherfucking GRASSHOPPER.


So, this is pretty crap, but it it’s fun crap.  And I keep imagining the giant spider on the LOST island, which leads to all kinds of funny scenarios.


Oh, and BTW, I thought I’d let y’all know. I found out about this movie through this interview with Alex Reid, which is pretty awesome by its own self, and then yesterday, from a link on a different site, I find the blog, written by “Final Girl,” who, as it turns out, had been the awesome interviewer. And her website is also awesome, and then I find a post recapping Arachnid. This was about ten days after reading the interview, and I had already written most of this post. Crazy, huh? Anyway, check out her recap here, it’s fantastic.


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