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Earth Vs The Spider (2001)

When does a superhero become a villain?

Directed by:

Scott Ziehl

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Originally produced by US low budget horror geeks “Creature Features” for straight-to-cable-TV treatment, this simplistic throwback to the B-grade monster movies of the 50s has since built up a minor cult following.

Though borrowing its name from a 1958 flick featuring monstrous arachnids running riot in a small American town, this 2001 update has much more in common with Jeff Goldblum's insect incarnation in “The Fly”. Though Dan Aykroyd takes the lead in the credits as the hackneyed gumshoe tracing a spate of serial killings, it's Devon Gummersall who snaps up the bulk of the screen time.

Gummersall plays Quentin Kemmer, a nerdy comic book-obsessive who skirts around the issue of asking out neighbour Stephanie (Amelia Heinle) when he's not working as a security guard at a top secret lab where some strange experiments on spiders are taking place. When amiable partner Nick (Mario Roccuzzo) gets killed in a shoot-out on the job, our Quentin decides to take drastic measures and injects himself with some spider “mojo juice”.

Before long Quentin develops Geoff Capes-style strength and looks like turning into the superhero he always dreamt of being, and even Stephanie (who, incidentally, sports one wild set of eyebrows) can't help but take a bit of an interest. But there's a catch – our would-be hero also begins to take on all of the other traits associated with spiders, including speed, stickiness and a constant hunger which – you've guessed it – makes him need to kill. And I haven't even started on those extra legs yet.

The picture has a camp, comic book feel and at times it's difficult to tell whether this is consciously supposed to be an intelligent spoof or if director Scott Ziehl really believes he's making a serious horror movie. The special effects are better than you'd expect and the acting decent, though you can't help but feel for Aykroyd, having to turn his hand to such low profile work. Are times really that hard? Doesn't anyone remember “Ghostbusters” any more?

It's Got: Dan Aykroyd turning the ham up full blast with lines like: "Maybe he got himself lost, and maybe he got himself dead. Either way, he’s outta your life."

It Needs: Some kind of clearer indication of just how spoofy it’s all supposed to be. I truly hope it’s not supposed to be taken seriously, otherwise it’s much much worse than I’m giving it credit for.

DVD Extras A brief "making of" documentary, filmographies, and spider sketches. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

Spiderman, The Fly (either version)

Summary

A bizarre mix of comic book camp and “The Fly”-style horror.

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