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Thursday, July 18, 2002

Arac and ruin

Movie: Eight Legged Freaks

Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2002 at 4:00 AM

*1/2
Our Rating: 1.50
With 1998's "Godzilla," producers Dean Devlin and Ronald Emmerich proved adept at sucking the life out of the most closely guarded monster-movie memories. They press the point even farther with "Eight Legged Freaks," a latter-day appropriation of the 1950s giant-insect archetype that's not funny enough to qualify as parody yet too crass to be considered homage. In this lazy cash-in (helmed by novice director/co-writer Ellory Elkayem), the dumping of some good old toxic waste turns the arachnid population of an Arizona ghost town into oversized killing machines. Whatever matinee hopes that classic set-up raises vanish with the realization that humanity's first line of defense will be David Arquette, who plays the returning heir to a mining operation that will figure prominently in the showdown between man and spider. Arquette's unbearable antihero mugging is typical of the film, which crucifies a cabal of Hollywood's easy hires on a cross of cartoonish direction, atrocious dialogue and repetitious plot explication. While it's momentarily fun to watch former MTV cheesecake queen Kari Wuhrer take on the hugely ill-advised role of a lady sheriff and mother of two, such novelties can only carry a movie so far -- especially when its crucial first spider attack suffers from some of the worst composite and miniature work seen since Hollywood was making movies like this one for real. The film saves its niftier big-bug FX for its suitably explosive third act, but by the time that conflagration arrives, you've long since refused to pay attention.

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