COMPANY: Nu Image
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: After a Soviet space station crashes into a New York City subway tunnel, a new species of dangerous venomous spiders is discovered, and soon they start mutating to gigantic proportions and wreak havoc on the city.
REVIEW: When Spiders (Spiders 3D for its limited theatrical run) was first announced and we started getting news of it here and there, I was a bit confused as to what kind of movie it was - remake, sequel, or something original? See, back in 2000 and 2001 there were a couple SyFy Channel style B-Movies also titled Spiders and Spiders II: Breeding Grounds. Like this one, they also dealt with genetically-modified mutant killer spiders brought down on something crashing from space, and they too began growing to immense size during the films. I had no idea initially if this was supposed to be a new sequel to that series (with the 3 in 3D being the number of the movie), a remake to the first, or just a brand new movie with the same unimaginative title and an almost exact same plot. Well it turns out it's that last one, and while that was slightly disappointing to me at first, in the end I completely forgot all about any other similar movies because this one was just so damn good.
The special effects of the mutant spiders ranged from ok to great and were always well-above average for what you would expect from such a movie. From the normal-sized little critters that plagued the subway tracks and other dimly-lit locations, to the dog-sized buggers that ran up the sides of the buildings and chased people through warehouses, to the car-sized horrors that occupied the mostly-deserted streets and back alleys, to the gigantic building-sized monstrosity that created mass chaos and destruction across the city, they all looked pretty excellent and the CGI models for them interacted with the physical world almost flawlessly. As a hated of any kind of arachnids, I can assure you that the CGI models in this movie will be giving me nightmares for weeks to come. Likewise, the set designs were excellent as well and actually looked realistic. Even though the movie was filmed in Romania or Bucharest or some place like that, I never once questioned if this was actually NYC I was seeing as it looked pretty spot-on to me. If I hadn't read in another article where this movie had been filmed, I would have never guessed that it hadn't been in New York City.
It's also a nice added bonus that the majority of the movie takes place at night or in dimly-lit shadowed areas, which is something I miss from 80's and 90's B-Movies that seems to not happen much anymore, if at all - so many B-Movies today (especially SyFy Channel ones) take place entirely during the day, and they loose such great potential for atmosphere by doing that (not to mention it helps mask any terrible CGI a bit). Even having a couple night time attack scenes go a long way, so it was a nice surprise when this one was filled with them. Hell, even the main plot of the movie (that being the spiders coming down from space and infesting New York City) happens within the first 5-10 minutes, which was another welcomed change as so many of these kinds of movies take so long to get to the point, but here it starts almost right away and wastes no time.
However, where it does waste time, is with the Government Conspiracy subplot. See, there's this rather large section of the movie devoted to the Government evacuated the city and quarantining sections of it off, threatening those that try to cross by way of on-the-spot execution. In addition to this going on, the Government is also employing very Mission: Impossible style tactics to 'get rid of' (I.E. murder) anyone with real knowledge on the reason the city is being evacuated, that being due to giant mutating alien spiders. On paper I'm sure it looked great, and even in-action it's not the idea of it that I don't like, it's just that far too much time is spent on it, and spent on characters within it that have no bearing on anything else in the movie, and I feel it kind of takes you out of the main meat of fun far more often then not. It brings down an otherwise perfect flow to the movie and that whole subplot could easily have been shortened down or cut out all together and the movie would have been better off for it.
Along those lines there's an extension of that subplot, dealing with a Government scientist and the lead military general doing tests on a captured spider that involves some revelations, that while I didn't mind nearly as much as the previously-mentioned stuff, I still could have done without. I say it all too often, but that's only because these movies do it all too often, but I really hate it when killer animal B-movies feel the need to throw in human villains, as I find it takes some of the threat away from the killer animals, plus nobody tunes into a giant mutated killer alien spider movie to watch a couple questionable humans make some bad decisions and act all tough about it. Don't get me wrong, I liked having the military involved, especially for some of those awesome and fun military vs giant spiders action scenes, but it's just having the lead General and scientist kind of being the obligatory 'evil military general' and 'mad scientist' characters that I could have done without. However, it at least it gave us a couple more main characters to focus on, and they did impact other parts of the movie as well as interacted with our main leads on occasion, so at least they have a good reason to be here, unlike the whole Government cover-up stuff that I mentioned earlier.
Those quibbles aside, this is a near-perfect B-Movie and it's a hell of a lot of fun. I just wish they would have come up with a better, more interesting title then simply 'Spiders'. Especially since there's already an almost identical movie about mutated alien spiders getting loose after escaping a falling man-made outer space object and growing to giant size, ALSO with the exact same generic title of 'Spiders' that was released back in 2000. But whatevs. Nobody probably even remembers that movie other than me anyway.
As for this one, I have no idea why it never got a wider theatrical release then it did. As far as I'm concerned, the acting, CGI effects, and even the movie as a whole is at least on-par with, if not better than, Eight Legged Freaks which did get a theatrical release back in 2002, and in my opinion, this one deserved a far better release treatment then it ultimately got.
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward