This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
dadgumblah’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
What a fun movie! This just happened to be the last movie I saw at a drive-in. There are still drive-ins around where I live but I prefer the cinema now. But for a long time in my life, the drive-in was IT! Anyway, seeing this outdoors didn't turn out well as movie speakers were gone and you had to tune in to an AM channel on the car radio to hear the movie, it was raining, so the picture was interrupted by the windshield wipers and the sound was crackling in and out because of lightning. Therefore, it was later, on VHS where I first saw this and loved it.
I was pleased to see it again on cable the other night. Here we have a huge spider in Venezuela that makes the trip to small-town America in a coffin (crate, actually) and winds up mating with a spider in the small California town. Their babies turn out to be mega-deadly and kill with one bite and soon are crawling almost everywhere, at first in small degrees but by the end of the movie, they're everywhere.
We also have our hero, Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels), the new town doctor, who happens to have a fear of spiders, or arachnophobia. And the South American killer spider just so happens to have mated in his barn but is living in his wine cellar under the house, where the egg sac and the female also reside. Jennings has a wife, played by the sexy Harley Jane Kozak, and two kids, who are living at spider central and don't know it. The offspring slowly start spreading out through town and making a handful of corpses that draw Jennings' attention, especially as two of them are patients he's just diagnosed as healthy. When they drop dead, he notices. But the local doctor (Henry Jones) who has suddenly refused to retire won't listen to Jennings. Neither will the local pissant Sheriff (Stuart Pankin). But they will soon be educated in the ways of gnarly spiders. And Daniels character has to face his fear the hard way.
A very exciting movie where you might not think it would be, being that most of the spiders are small. But the way director Frank Marshall films them, with close-ups of the smaller spiders eyes looking at potential victims, moving as their prey moves, dangling by a single strand of thread right over the victim's head, is all very well done and creates lots of suspense. But make no mistake, this is not just suspenseful, it's FUN! Plus, there's comedy, with John Goodman playing a bit of a moronic bug exterminator who nevertheless rises to the occasion with his "special mixture" to battle the many spiders.
The best part is the finale as Daniels has to rescue his family from their own home as the spider horde comes calling, and then deal with Mama and Papa spider in a way he'd rather not.
As far as pure entertainment movies goes, this one is a classic and delivers everything it promises. Love it!