Arachnophobia (1990) Review


Spiders and relatively normal sized ones aren’t really monsters but enough people are scared of them to make this a monster movie. I think spiders, heights and small spaces are the most popular phobias. Strange thing is most people don’t know why they are scared of spiders and most even know that they shouldn’t be and that fear is what makes this film so damn good.


Director: Frank Marshall

Writers: Don Jakoby (story), Al Williams (story)

Budget:  $31,000,000 (estimated)
Run Time: 103 minutes
Tagline: Eight Legs, Two Fangs and an Attitude
Trivia – The small spiders used in the film were Avondale spiders (Delena Cancerides), a harmless species from New Zealand that were provided by Landcare Research in Auckland. Despite their fierce appearance, this spider is docile member of the crab-spider family and are, in fact, harmless to humans. They were not allowed back in New Zealand for quarantine reasons. The giant “spider” used in the film was a species of a bird-eating tarantula, which attains an 8″ legspan or more. Those types of tarantula are not easy to handle and can give a nasty bite. The spiders in the film were managed and handled by famed entomologist Steven R. Kutcher.
Trivia – The anamatronic General Spider seen at the film’s climax was one of the earliest prop jobs done by Mythbusters’ Jamie Hyneman.
As with most monster movies Arachnophobia has a really simple plot but the film builds on it in a great way. Things start out with Manley a photographer and Dr James Atherton played by Julian Sands who really looks like he should have been a Malfoy in Harry Potter. Anyway these two are out in the jungle when they come across a new species of spider, this spider is really aggressive and has been trapped by nature from moving it’s way around the world.
Malfoy with the new species of spider
Luckily for Spiderface humans interfere and when Manley’s body is shipped back to the US a sneaky spider crawls into his coffin and feeds off him before making it’s way into the American countryside. Once in the good old U, S of A the spider finds the American spiders rather welcoming and after some spider sex there’s 1000’s of the little bastards crawling around.
The target of the spiders is a small town community and having just moved from the city and taken his fear of spiders with him is the towns new doctor Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) He discovers a few bodies clearly victims of a spider bite but at first he isn’t believed as he’s the new guy in town.
Delbert McClintock the hero everyone needs at least everyone who’s battling killer spiders
However more people are attacked and it’s up to him, the spider Dr and John Goodman as Delbert McClintock the local exterminator to take down the spiders. Delbert really should have had many more scenes, every one of the scenes he’s in he is great but then John Goodman is usually great anyway.
It’s pretty obvious that this would all lead to Dr Ross Jennings facing his fear of spiders in a big final showdown. I mean if he can battle the “general” of this species he can surely cope with any spiders the world can throw at him.
The Good
  • Spiders are mostly creepy.
  • Delbert McClintock’s entrance music.
  • Jeff Daniels is really good.
  • The final battle with the spiders is awesome, to make a convincing duel between man and spider that’s as entertaining as that takes some doing.
  • Spiders are still creepy.
  • Although described as a horror comedy there’s not that many funny parts but the films as a whole has a real humorous tone to it.
  • The coroner always eating around corpses.
  • The effects are mostly good.

The Bad

  • I said the effects were mostly good which is true but there’s a few times when they’re a bit dodgy.
  • John Goodman isn’t in it enough.
  • Outside of the main group of characters everyone else is pretty annoying.

Overall this is well worth a watch, it’s entertaining and if you don’t like spiders it’s a bit creepy watching them crawl around and into peoples slippers, helmets and even their food. I consider this film a classic, sure it’s not got an overly engaging story but what monster movies do? They take what they have and it works on every level, even if spiders aren’t your thing you should watch it, I mean we’re all horror fans because we crave what scares us so go watch this!

Overall Rating – 8.5/10

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