Film / Eight Legged Freaks

"Do you hate spiders? Do you REALLY hate spiders? Well, they don't like you, either!"

Eight Legged Freaks is a 2002 horror-comedy film directed by Ellory Elkayem, executive produced by Roland Emmerich, and starring David Arquette, Kari Wührer, Scarlett Johansson and Doug E. Doug. The plot concerns a collection of spiders that are exposed to toxic waste, causing them to grow to gigantic proportions. Yeah. It's a 50s monster movie made with 21st century visual effects, and it's exactly what you're expecting.

It's set in an Arizona nowhere town called "Prosperity" - which just happens to have a mall, just so survivors can battle spiders with improvised weapons. There are mine shafts for that Survival Horror feel. There's even a scene where jumping spiders chase dirt bikers. Get some popcorn and watch spiders gobble bystanders and get squished by the heroes! Narm Charm!

This movie contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: The film is one of old 50s mutant monster movies. It's not hard to notice that it doesn't take itself seriously.
    • The spiders panting in exhaustion and squeaking "uh-oh" are pretty obvious signs.
    • There is a scene where a spider jumps on a moose's head, mounted on a wall, and takes a bite, only to visibly complain about the taste.
    • And then there was this advert: "If you're only going to see one film this summer about a giant mutant spider, make sure it's the right one."
  • All Webbed Up: Being a movie about giant spiders, obviously this happens a lot of the time.
  • Anal Probing: There's a bit where Harlan goes on a tirade about aliens and this very subject. "...I mean, what do they expect to find there? It's just wrong!"
  • Antlion Monster: One subset of the Giant Spider horde includes a small group of Trapdoor Spiders, who quickly begin snatching away people into their burrows when the whole town is under attack. One guy manages to get past them by throwing a ladder on top of the hole in front of him and walking his way across.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Harlan believes in alien conspiracy theories, but thinks the emergence of giant spiders in the town is nonsense until he actually sees them - then he thinks they are in fact the aliens he was talking about. Lampshaded by Chris.
  • Attack Of The Killer five-foot (for starters!) Giant Spiders!
  • Auto Erotica: Bret tries to have sex with Ashley in his pickup truck. She refuses. Emphatically.
  • Big Bad: Consuela, the female Orb Weaver.
    "You know how women like breakfast in bed."
  • Book Ends: Harland's broadcast.
  • Boom, Headshot: Kari Wührer's a damned good shot. Pistol, rifle, shotgun, crossbow; every result is the same - fountains of spider guts!
  • Chainsaw Good: In a mall, Pete manages to lift the garage-door-style mesh that locked one of the stores, since the caretakers apparently neglected to lock it. He log rolls under and slams it down. However, the spiders reach their legs through, yanking him right up against the mesh but unable to bite him. His solution? Grab a nearby chainsaw and slice through all their limbs.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bret's dirtbike.
    • And the bottle of perfume.
    • The taser gun - twice.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Harlan, who believes the Giant Spiders are the alien invaders he has warned about his whole career.
    You ain't getting that anal probe near me!
  • Conversational Troping: Harlan, being a conspiracy theorist, assumes the spiders are aliens. On the second broadcast of his radio show, he talks about the anal probes. This movie has do to with neither aliens (as far as we know) nor Anal Probing.
  • Date Rape Averted: While they are in his truck Bret gets very handsy with Ashley who refuses his advances and then zaps him with a taser that her mother gave to her in case this happened. Unusually, while the movie certainly depicts Bret as wrong and Ashley as right, it portrays his actions as being due to a moment of teenage hormone-driven boneheadedness rather than those of an evil rapist. Bret survives the entire film and he gets back with Ashley.
  • The Dragon: The giant tarantula apparently leads the spider army for Consuela.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Strangely, Zeke the cat. His fight with a spider as big as he is just about destroys the drywall they're behind, and it's quite possible that he took the spider with him as the final seconds of their fight is shown to be shorting out the light they're above.
  • Escort Mission: Rescuing characters from a spider's lair deep in some abandoned mines.
  • Expy: Chris bears a few similarities to Dewey from the Scream films, another character played by David Arquette.
  • Fair Cop: The sheriff is played by Kari Wuhrer, known for many Ms. Fanservice roles. Lampshaded by the horndog teenagers when they call her "the sexiest sherrif in the country".
  • Genre Savvy: Mike is the only one who knows fully well he's in a horror movie, and is well aware of what the spiders are gonna do. He's also well aware that no one will believe him, and lampshades it constantly.
  • Giant Spider: The Movie.
  • Groin Attack: With a taser.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bret starts off as a sex-obsessed Jerk Ass, but ends up as a much nicer guy and even gets back together with his girlfriend. He plays Support Staff to the Hero.
    • Perhaps the taser to the balls acted as electroshock therapy.
  • Idiot Ball: A diner full of customers, watching the spiders outside. When the spiders start jumping at the window, attempting to break through, nobody considers moving in any capacity until the spiders actually manage to do so.
  • Karma Houdini: Mayor Wade. After building a useless mall, trying to turn the town into a toxic waste dump, and locking the survivors in the mall when the spiders attack, Chris saves him. At least his stupid mall blows up.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Subverted. As the townsfolk arm themselves in the mall, it looks like there's going to be a massive battle with the spiders. Then when the spiders break in, the vast majority are too scared to do anything and simply retreat en mass.
  • The Mall: Built in an attempt to bring money into the town — or, more specifically, to fill the pockets of the developers. Part of the climax takes place here.
  • Mighty Glacier: The tarantula is one of the biggest spiders alive, so of course the mutant tarantula becomes perhaps the biggest spider in the movie, with earth-shaking strength and the ability to knock over trailers with ease.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The spiders aren't evil; they kill for food, for territory (evidenced by a spider dueling Chris and his chair) or to satisfy the female spider as per their mating rituals.
  • Noodle Incident: The town — for reasons unknown even to them — has Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle.
  • Oh Crap!: Harlan when he looks out his trailer window and sees a massive tarantula.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Towards the end of the movie. Chris and Gladys on a dirt bike escape an igniting mine shaft.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The CGI artists had problems with the giant tarantula - scaling it up realistically turned it into an adorable fuzzy thing reminiscent of a high-quality stuffed animal. They had to remove more than half its hairs before the terrifying monster-truck-sized spider was noticeable beneath.
  • Rule of Fun: It doesn't take itself too seriously plot wise.
  • Rule of Scary
  • Spiders Are Scary: Well, obviously.
  • Spider Swarm: Par for the course.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Despite having a lair full of cocooned meals, the female spider at the end feels the need to chase down Chris and Gladys, who are on a MOTORCYCLE.
    • Almost all of the spiders in the movie are this, really, as spiders are primarily ambush predators. Even the most active hunters, like the tarantula, aren't this speedy in pursuit of prey. Possibly justified by the toxic waste making them more aggressive and active.
  • Take That: Roger Ebert's review opened by saying that this film delivered everything that Men In Black II did not.
  • Title Drop: "Get back, you EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS!"
    • Interestingly, that line didn't start out as a Title Drop; the title of the movie was originally Arach-Attack according to the commentary. Unfortunately, the title has Unfortunate Implications when said out loud (the movie came out not long after the war between America and Iraq started), so the title was changed at the last minute to reflect the line—which was, incidentally, ad-libbed on-set by David Arquette.
    • It still retained this title (or the alternate spelling Arac Attack) in other countries.
      • Which itself gets titled dropped a couple of times throughout the movie.
  • That Poor Cat: We are treated to a cat getting into a fight with a spider of equal size. Most of it takes place in an air vent where we see the cat slammed against the wall multiple times.
  • This Loser Is You: David Arquette plays Chris McCormick, a well-meaning, sensitive schmuck just trying to save what's left of his hometown and pour his heart out to his high school crush. Actually a rather respectful application of the trope; he listens carefully to the Child Prodigy, and runs right to him once he gets real evidence. He never fails to fight hard for the town. Result? Karmic Jackpot. The girl, after one too many Can Not Spit It Out moments, exasperatingly admits that yes, she knows he beat up her philandering husband for her, came back to town because he genuinely wants to help, that he loves her, and that she loves him back. And then he finds the Mother Lode and makes the entire town filthy stinking rich! (Too bad a large majority of townspeople have become spider food by that point...)
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: Spiders consume toxic waste. Spiders get taste for human and ability to grow far beyond their maximum size. The film gets a little slack as it has a strong comedic bent and doesn't take itself too seriously.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: As you'd expect. And the movie's damn fun anyway!
  • Vapor Wear
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Harlan thinks the spiders are aliens as opposed to mutants, even when it's pointed out to him - you'd think even a non-spider expert would recognize a tarantula once he knows to look for it.
  • Zerg Rush: The jumping spiders. Additionally, the mall scene where the spiders simply plow into the mall.