Arachnophobia (1990)

*. This was my first time coming back to Arachnophobia since I caught it in the theatre thirty years ago. I had forgotten almost all of it. Easy to do when so much of it is so generic. The big-city doctor moving with his family to a picture-postcard small town where bad things happen. It’s Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King, spiritual neighbours who aren’t usually associated.
*. I’d forgotten Jeff Daniels as the doctor. I’d forgotten the spiders. Sure, I knew it was about killer spiders, but giant spiders? Swarms of spiders? No. Actually just poisonous spiders. That’s another part I’d forgotten. I’d even forgotten Julian Sands as the ponytailed scientist with the British accent. How could I not remember the Warlock?
*. The only part of the movie I still recalled was John Goodmn as Delbert the exterminator. I even remembered many of his lines, from “Tear out bad wood, put in good wood” to “Yeah, that’s right, I’m bad.” He’s a lot of fun.
*. Today it strikes me as wholesome family entertainment. No gore, and (in the form of Delbert) a bit of humour. The spiders are a one-joke monster: hiding away in various everyday places — a football helmet, a bedroom slipper, a popcorn bowl — before zapping their victims. It all plays out very predictably, to the point where the final battle between Daniels and the General starts to feel like a bit of a drag. Something that I think they were aware of given how hard the score is working throughout the whole cellar scene. It doesn’t let up for a moment.
*. It’s not very inspired or noteworthy in any way, but given the genre I think you have to rate it pretty highly. It was accused of being a rip-off of Kingdom of the Spiders, and its most prominent successor would be Eight Legged Freaks twelve years later. It’s a lot better than either of those movies.

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