From the Archive: Arachnophobia


I suspect I thought I was pretty clever for the way I structured the beginning of this review. If nothing else, I was probably pleased that I included a Supertrain reference. Arachnophobia was a movie I needed to work hard to see, since it barely eked into the box office top ten for the summer of 1990 (our debut radio show counted down that top ten). It’s entirely possible it was one of the first movies that made me wonder what the hell I’d gotten myself into by committing to a weekly movie review show. This review was written for the home video release.

The Edsel. The NBC TV series “Supertrain.” The thrill-omedy. What do these things have in common? If you saw last summer’s sorta-hit ARACHNOPHOBIA you probably know the answer is that they’re all things that just didn’t work. The first release from Disney’s Hollywood Pictures division was supposed to bring us thrills AND comedy. The problem is that it didn’t really bring us either. The film is set in a small town where a new breed of poisonous spiders is on the loose, and not even the exterminator played by John Goodman can stop them, even though he’s doing his best impression of Bill Murray in CADDYSHACK. The jokes aren’t able to generate any laughs and the only time thrills show up is at the end when one house is completely overrun with spiders from roof to basement. And star Jeff Daniels has to do battle with a spider the size of a good stewpot. For most of the time, though, this film creaks along with all the speed of a daddy longlegs on Valium. It’s not one to go after.

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