Arachnophobia Review: This Spider Movie From 1990 Holds Up
For me Friday night is the perfect evening to watch a B-movie. Work has nearly killed my brain by then, and I just want to have a beer along with a disposable fun movie. This Friday my choice landed on the 1990 spider movie Arachnophobia and I ended up being immensely surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.
Star of the movie is Jeff Daniels, (co-) star of productions such as Speed, Dumb and Dumber, and The Newsroom. Despite being the protagonist of this story, it still takes Daniels around 15 minutes to appear in the film. That’s because despite its B-movie premise Arachnophobia actually spends time to set up its plot, with the opening of the movie set in Venezuela to establish its lethal spiders as a true threat.
Based on my review for Mechanic Resurrection and my review for Hell Comes to Frogtown you can probably tell I’m not the most discerning viewer, but Arachnophobia is something else. I last saw this movie when I was around 12 years old and back then it scared the shit out of me. Upon watching it 20 years later I expected to be an enjoyable dated affair, but alas for adult me: it was still scary.
Of course it helps to have some kind of fear of spiders, which not everyone does, as I could tell by my girlfriend who fell asleep an hour in. Unfortunately for me, I do dislike them, so I ended up getting heavily involved with this. Arachnophobia spends enough time with its protagonists for us to care for them, leading to a very satisfying climax involving a clutter of spiders. The main setting is a small town in the US, filled with colorful side characters as if we’ve been dropped in the middle of a Stephen King story.
What keeps this one engaging is the snowball effect of the plot, going from spider webs, to casualties, to a thrilling climax set in a house overrun with spiders. Perhaps the main reason Arachnophobia still holds up is because the threat here is rooted in reality. For the scenes smaller spiders the crew used live – harmless – ones from New Zealand, called Avondale spiders. We are treated to some animatronic spider work in the finale, yet most of this is kept in the shadow and restricted to close-ups.
Let us know if you have some other B-movies we should check out!