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          Everyone is afraid of something... for Dr. Ross Jennings, his phobia is downright embarrassing. But when he moves his family to a small town, the one thing that bugs him most is now harming the townspeople at an alarming rate. For this unlikely hero, overcoming a childhood fear of spiders might just save the community, but it may already be too late!

"They kill... in sufficient numbers."
                    - Dr. James Atherton

         Arachnophobia is one of those films which reminds me of my earlier years as a film fanatic. A film which is still high on my list of arachnid horror films. It taps into a fear that many humans are born with, a fear of spiders, also known as arachnophobia. Although, it must be noted that this film is a horror/comedy (or as the trailer labels it, a "thillomedy") so this review will be focused on both aspects of the film instead of the oh-so-fun Flesh Farm gore-fest. Lets begin.

         The films first 15 minutes is set in the rain forests of Venezuela where a team of scientists are searching for new species of spiders and other insects. A photographer accompanies them who is soon bitten by a new species of arachnid and dies within seconds. Mistaking the death for a common illness in the rain forest, the scientists crate up the body and send it back to Canaima, the mans home town in The United States. Unfortunately, for the town of Canaima, the queen of the new species hitched a ride in the casket and is about to cause the town a huge amount of difficulty.
         New to the town, Dr. Ross Jennings and his family are excited to start a new life in the farmhouse they purchased outside of town. Soon after arriving, strange deaths begin occurring around town and Jennings begins to realize a poisonous strain of spider is the cause. Spiders begin multiplying in alarming numbers which pits Dr. Jennings and a small group of experts against the hoards of eight-legged deviants.

         One of the best aspects about Arachnophobia is the cast and how they spin thrilling scenes with comedic excellence. Jeff Daniels (cast as Dr. Ross Jennings) delivers an amazing performance. It's strange to think he played Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber just four years after this film. The characters are exact opposites. One a harvard grad and the other a complete moron. Another great casting decision (and a huge part of the comedy) is John Goodman as Delbert McClintock, an exterminator who takes his profession extremely seriously... to the point of pure hilarity. And Julian Sands, cast as the expert scientist. A perfect and mysterious role made for Julian. You might know him from the Warlock series and Stephen King's Rose Red.
         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.
         Memorable scenes include a spider slithering down the wet chest of an unsuspecting teen, the extremely decayed corpse of the photographer and John Goodman's character causing havoc and destruction on the population of encroaching arachnids.

         I highly recommend Arachnophobia to all film lovers. It will keep you on the edge of your chair while causing your stomach to hurt from laughing. If you're afraid of spiders, you might just chew your fingers off before the end, but that's part of the fun! Pick up a copy and let the fun begin!

Cast & Crew   |   Pictures  |   Video Clip   |   Trailer

          - "Canaima" (the town attacked by the spiders) is the name of the avenging spirit of the Guyana Indians. It's also the name the area in Venezuela where the beginning of the movie was filmed and home to the world's tallest waterfall, Angel Falls. The actual town in the movie is Cambria, California, and there is a scene shot in the gymnasium of the local Coast Joint Union High School.

          - Mustard packs were used for effects for all the squashing of spiders underfoot.

          - First release by Hollywood Pictures, the third film-making/distribution arm of the Walt Disney Company.

          - "Family Ties" is playing on the TV when spiders start crawling over the screen.

          - The sound of a spider being crushed by John Goodman was made by the foley artists crushing a couple of potato chips



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