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31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ‘Eight Legged Freaks’

Jason McDonald

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies.  This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking.  Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch.

It bums me out that we don’t get more big screen films about spiders.  At this point I’m all for an “Arachnophobia” remake just so we can end this creepy crawler drought.  But while we wait for that to happen, let’s take a trip down memory lane to a classic spider horror movie from the early ’00s.

“Eight Legged Freaks”, released in 2002, was an excellent throwback to the kind of cheesy B-movies you’d see in the ’50s.  The plot, which centered on a strange chemical causing spiders to grow into impossible sizes, would’ve been a perfectly normal premise for a sci-fi movie of the era.  However, whereas the movie in the ’50s would’ve featured one giant spider, “Eight Legged Freaks” features a plethora of crazy critters terrorizing a small Arizona town.

The film starred former WCW Champion David Arquette and a young upcoming actress named Scarlett Johansson a  year before her real big breakout role in “Lost in Translation.”  It also stars a guy who I wish was doing more: Doug E. Doug.  He’s great in this one as a crazy Art Bell-type that is broadcasting out of his trailer in the desert about all sorts of conspiracy theories.

What’s interesting about “Eight Legged Freaks” is that it actually got its start as a short film.  In the late 1990s director and writer Ellory Elkayem received a grant from the New Zealand government to create a 12 minute short film titled “Larger than Life.”  Much like “Eight Legged Freaks” the short was inspired ’50s movies and centered on a rather large spider attacking a woman in her home.  Five years later Elkayem was able to turn his award winning short into a feature film.  If you’ve never seen it before you can check it out down below.

The movie wasn’t the only thing that was a throwback.  As part of the promotion for the film they released a freeware game called “Eight Legged Freaks: Let the Squashing Begin.”  The game was basically a Doom/Wolfenstein clone where you played as David Arquette running the through the mall from the end of the movie as you kill spiders and look for keys.  The best part was that Arquette would just spout off one liners over and over again.  You can check it out down below.

While “Eight Legged Freaks” performed moderately well at the box office there was still reports that it was going to get a sequel.  Sadly, after fifteen years of waiting, I’m ready to give up on any hopes of that sequel happening.  But perhaps the “Arachnophobia” remake will lead to a resurgence in spider mania and someone somewhere will finally dust off “Eight Legged Freaks 2.”  One can dream.



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