There’s a time-tested rule in Hollywood that says no matter how bad things get, the dog always lives. Sure, there’s Old Yeller, but just look at how that one affects audiences. It’s one of the biggest tear-jerkers in film history. So, in general, filmmakers make a point of having the dog make it through the disaster, no matter how catastrophic it is.
In 1996, Independence Day offered audiences a dog that managed to jump into a side passageway moments before an alien-induced explosion ripped past, destroying all of Los Angeles. Millions of people perished, but the dog survived unscathed. More recently, last summer’s, Pearl Harbor (Michael Bay is a master of the dog escape) featured a pooch that paddled its way to safety during one of the most destructive air raids in military history.
As a general movie rule, dogs don’t die on-screen. And most people are comfortable with that.
But about 45 minutes into Eight Legged Freaks, director Ellory Elkayem shows just what he thinks about the rules. Apparently, he don’t need ’em.
If he did, audiences might feel slightly more comfortable … or bored, depending on how you look at things.
Taking after the senseless B-movies of the early Cold War era, Eight Legged Freaks is somewhat fresh in its complete disregard of plot. Elkayem seems to be saying, “Sure plot is good, but it’s so much more fun to be trite.” And that’s exactly what comes off in the film. The plot is pretty stock and very flimsy, but oh what fun it is.
The movie begins in the dusty desert town of Prosperity, Ariz., where the local mayor has secretly worked out a deal with a powerful corporation to store biohazardous waste in the mining shafts outside of town. During a delivery run, one of the trucks carrying the waste comes across a bunny in the road and nearly flips over the rail trying to dodge the cute little thing. The truck makes it out all right, but one of the waste barrels goes overboard and floats in a pond unnoticed for a week. A mile down the road from the pond lives a man named Joshua and his 200 exotic spiders. He feeds them with biohazard-mutated grasshoppers, and they grow like nuts.
Within a matter of weeks, the spiders are the size of cows, hiding out in the aforementioned mineshafts, somehow still undetected by anyone in the town. Once small pets start disappearing, though, the folks of Prosperity begin to realize that something’s just not right.
With the detached desert locale, sudden appearance of freakish monsters lurking below ground and early reliance on shot guns to mow the creatures down, Eight Legged Freaks might remind audiences of the 1990 hit Tremors, but with much more bite. While Tremors was adventurous and (somewhat) carefully plotted, Eight Legged Freaks is little more than a blow-by-blow shock-fest with its only apparent goal being to make audiences jump out of their seats.
So, yeah, it’s like Tremors, but it’s on some serious uppers, and it succeeds by the minute with its goal. You will jump – over and over.
By the end, the whole ordeal is somewhat taxing, but definitely worthwhile, because even ifEight Legged Freaks isn’t a good movie, at least it’s a fun movie. And if your blood pressure rises a little bit because of it, well, that’s just part of the entertainment.
But they still shouldn’t have let the dog die. That’s just wrong.