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2000 - R - 94 Mins.
Director: Gary Jones
Written By: Stephen David Brooks
Starring: Lana Parrilla , Josh Green, Oliver Macready, Nick Swarts, Mark Phelan, David Carpenter
Review by: James O'Ehley
There’s just something about panicking crowds fleeing a several storey tall giant mutant spider that makes me chuckle appreciatively.

The title of “Spiders” is a bit of a misnomer though, “Spider” (singular instead of plural) would be more apt – but that is already the title of an arty David Cronenberg movie starring one of the Fiennes brothers (I forgot which one). We never really get to see more than one spider at a time unfortunately – think “Eight Legged Freaks” but with severe budget cuts and you’ll know what I mean.

The spider in question is aptly named ‘Mother-in-Law’ (ho, ho) and is the product of NASA injecting alien DNA into a tarantula spider. (Now you Yanks know where your tax money is going to . . .) All of this is done in the weightlessness of space aboard the space shuttle, Solaris.

Oh, I should have told you: “Spiders” is filled with unexpected movie in-jokes and humor, which is sort of nice since its makers obviously knew that they were making a silly creature feature B-movie and decided to have some fun with it all. Along the way we have aliens from Alpha Centauri with New Jersey accents, the truth about the ultimate fate of Jim Morrison and John F. Kennedy and even lines from other movies (such as “Star Wars” – ‘I have a bad feeling about this. . .’) stolen verbatim.

The space shuttle Solaris is however struck by a solar flare (oh, the irony!) and Mother-in-Law escapes, and promptly starts killing off the astronauts. Solaris loses control and has to make an emergency crash landing at a top secret Area 51-like facility imaginatively called Area 21.

Having no doubt seen “Capricorn One”, NASA however tells the public that the shuttle has burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. Only problem is that at that very moment a college newspaper journalist named Marci (Lana Parrilla) and her two male sidekicks are investigating said top secret government facility and sees the whole thing happen. Now, how’s that for a coincidence?

Instead of covering the shuttle story as she was supposed to, Marci (who like Fox Mulder is a true believer) decided to take the word of mentioned aliens with New Jersey accents and investigate said government facility in the Californian desert. Luckily for her and her two cohorts (do you really need three people to cover a story about the space shuttle?) security at the highly secret facility is quite lax, and before you can say ‘Nancy Drew’ they manage to infiltrate it.

Naturally said monstrous CGI spider is also on the loose inside and we soon have the prerequisite running though dark basements scenes. Things however pick up later when said spider goes on rampage at Marci’s college and we have L.A. cops with pump-action shotguns in hot pursuit, not to mention out heroes, with a uranium depleted shell shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, in a drab olive green helicopter with no visible markings. (‘Hold fire,’ one cop exclaims, ‘That’s a government helicopter.’ Indeed.)

“Spiders” has clunky dialogue, bad acting, cheap (but not as bad as you’d expect) special effects and plot holes large enough to fit a mutant spider of “Godzilla”-like proportions. Yup, it’s a bad movie all right, but at least it is reasonably energetic and fast-paced. There are even two genuine startles (it is however not particularly scary).

Bring along a healthy sense of irony and “Spiders” can be quite fun in the way only cheesy straight-to-video fare can be. Besides, it could have been a whole lot worse – like its dreary unrelated sequel “Spiders II: Breeding Ground” (also reviewed on this site) proved . . .
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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