Tibor Takacs’ career started with two really cool horror films in The Gate (1987) which featured a young Stephen Dorff, followed by the criminally under seen I, Madman (1989) in which a mad doctor leaps from page to reality and into the life of a bookish Jenny Wright. Recent years have seen Takacs confined to the conveyor belt of SyFy channel creature feature cheese with the forgettable Mansquito (2005) amongst others. While Spiders sees him continue in the nature run amok fold, it’s a film produced by the guys at Nu Image who had a slew of pretty decent creat-feats out at the turn of the century with Tobe Hooper’s Crocodile, Octopus and this films namesake, Spiders (all 2000).
With a whopping (for a film of its ilk) budget of $7million, we begin in outer space aboard a derelict Soviet space station peppered with spider webs and dead astronauts. More concerning is the fact that it’s broken into the earth’s atmosphere and is heading rapidly towards New York City. Observing this impact is subway supervisor Jason (Patrick Muldoon), who jumps into action with the first responders only to find that the initial person on the scene has been bitten and subsequently died– they don’t know that though, and just presume that subway veteran Jimmy has had a brain fart and electrocuted himself.
Eager to get his tunnel re-opened, Jason is thwarted by his soon to be ex-wife Rachel (Christa Campbell) who works for the health department and refuses to sign off on the re-opening due to public safety concerns. It’s not long before the real cause of death is established as an insect bite of undetermined origin, and with Jason holding such a high position of authority (!) he’s able to grab a sample of the eggs the insect laid in the deceased and whip them over to Rachel’s apartment for analysis. Oh it’s a creature feature, just run with it.
Obviously Rachel’s analysis – with her presumably being a previous winner of the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement – leads her to immediately ascertain that the eggs are of alien origin, and thus begins a batshit crazy storyline that includes secret stealth technology, a crazed Russian scientist, extra-terrestrial DNA and the scramble to save Jason and Rachel’s 12 year old daughter Emily from the clutches of a spiders web.
You either find creature features a guilty pleasure, or you consider them to be a stain on the hallowed science-fiction landscape like some blighted illegitimate child. I’m in the camp of the former I’m proud to say. I saw my first creature feature aged 12 in 1989 – The Attack Of The 50ft Woman. It was part of a brilliant show called Mystery Train that ran for only a few episodes in November of that year. Hosted by Richard O’Brien, each week it would showcase a b-movie from the 50s alongside an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with other curios appearing either side.
Spiders manages to harness that 50s b-movie innocence alongside the odd “golly, gee” naivety, coupled with some marvellously stilted dialogue like “Is it Russian?” – “No, it’s from the Soviet Union. It was a different country back then”. If you’re in the mood for a healthy dose of knowingly kooky creature feature enjoyment – several notches above what SyFy are churning out, then Spiders is a good place to look.
5 out of 10
• Web of terror: The making of Spiders 3D
• Cast & crew interviews