Arachnophobia (1990)

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 49
Release: 4.1.1991
Dir: Frank Marshall
About: Dr James Atherton moves to a small town and witnesses a series of unexplainable deaths of the locals. Upon investigating, he discovers that a flock of spiders are responsible for it.

First Thoughts

I remember watching this as a kid and being scared. I remember watching it a few times. I’m not sure it was one we recorded onto a tape, but we’d watch it if it came on tv. There are certain scenes that have stuck in my memory (the shower) and have been replaying in my head ever since I decided it was time for a rewatch. I’d never watched this film alone, so that was… fun!

The Good

  • The story is actually really cool and I totally didn’t remember. New doctor comes to small town to replace older doctor. As with small town politics, Ross Jennings struggles to win over the confidence of the residence. It’s not very helpful, then, when the other newcomer (South American spider) starts killing the only people on the good Doc’s side. I love that there are elements that make Ross even doubt himself, but also that he is able to stand his ground.
  • John Goodman’s character is a brilliant addition and brings some levity to this very scary film. His presence is accompanied by this jovial music that is a complete contrast to the rest of the movie. As someone who is on edge, I am so grateful for this.
  • If you want a scary movie, this is the big daddy of them all. If you’re afraid of spiders that is. No cartoonish Freddie, no man in a painted up Shatner mask. Just something that most of us are afraid of just as they are. This one has a killer bite too. It has everything; jump scares, those slow builds the viewer sees coming but the victim doesn’t and even the fake out. It’s the biggest roller-coaster in the genre.
  • Chekhov’s gun is a bottle of wine. Okay, so it might be that I had a vague memory of the final act, but I do enjoy putting the pieces together and making predictions.

The Bad

  • Not really this film’s fault, but I’m getting really sick of animal POV in these creature features. However, this one gets the added mention because of how messy it actually is. As it happens when the bird picks it up, it’s actually unclear as to which animal the pov is coming from.
    Just stop with the POV. It doesn’t add anything to the film and it feels a little like reading homework that’s been copied from wikipedia.

The Ugly

  • I’m not a fan of the 20 minutes it takes to get to the small town. It’s a little too much of a ball ache set up and based upon how the spiders are collected, I feel bad for the first victim. You have these dicks who kill all these insects in the name of ‘discovery’, but its the man who doesn’t seem to really want to be there that gets it in the neck. With this sort of beginning, I feel like it should have developed more into a ‘creature from the black lagoon’ sort of plot. Or, tighten up that opening completely; five minutes tops and have that spider rushing for the airport, so to speak.

Final Thoughts

I’ve never been so scared watching a film in my entire life. During one scene I actually pulled off my glasses to stop myself from seeing the screen. However, I am proud of myself for watching it and I have to admit, it’s a well made film.

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