31 Days of Horror: Arachnophobia and the Giggles From ‘Eight Legged Freaks’

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8leggedfreakscoverI am absolutely, undeniably, childishly terrified of spiders. I literally scream and cry when I walk into a spiderweb or I get a spider on me. It began when I was very young, and I don’t remember the exact cause, but I remember my first bad experience. I was in maybe Kindergarten, and I was living in Florida at the time. I was on the playground at Stanley Switlick Elementary, and I was playing with my friends under a really big tree near the swing set. The tree was and still would be much bigger than I could comprehend. My friends and I played hide and seek, running around the massive trunk and catching one another between the giant roots that sprawled over the ground. At some point, I stood alone and saw all the girls I played with staring at me. I don’t remember what was said, but I remember the fear and disgust on their faces. I turned to look at my right shoulder…and there was a massive hairy spider, its furry legs striking pure, unadulterated fear into my heart. Naturally, I screamed and took off running. Apparently, I tried to undress on the playground. I don’t remember it, but I remember being scolded by a teacher later in a bathroom as she carefully helped me undress and checked all my clothes, then checked me for bites. After that, everyone was afraid to go under the big tree for a while. But me? I was scarred for life. I have never looked at a spider and not wanted to cry since. I am afraid of them no matter how small, and I will not hesitate to force whoever is nearby to come and kill it.

Fast forward about seven years. I’m maybe 13 and watching movies in my uncle’s house while my father is away at one of his college courses. My uncle decides to change the movie, and says to me, “I know you’re scared of spiders, but this came out when you were little, and it’s funny as hell.” I flat out refused to watch…until he bribed me with something, although I don’t remember what. I remember thinking that whatever he was giving me was worth a few spiders in a movie. And he was right. 8 Legged Freaks was hilarious, and even though some scenes made me squeal in fear or made me fidget with nervousness, I actually enjoyed the movie. Not enough to watch it again…and definitely not at night…but I liked it enough.

spiderDELETE IMMEDIATELYClassified as a comedy horror, the movie is set in an old mining town called Prosperity in Arizona, where a toxic waste spill has caused some concern. The idea of selling the mines and relocating is brought up, but the man whose father owned the mines, Chris (played by David Arquette) stands against this and tries to hold onto the mines. Meanwhile, a spider farmer is feeding crickets from the same pond in which the toxic spillage happened to his spiders and finds himself bitten by a poisonous tarantula! As the spiders grow to the sizes of various cars, the townspeople first deny the fact that giant spiders are taking over the town, then they have to fight them because pets and people begin getting eaten and trapped by giant orb weavers, jumping spiders, trapdoor spiders, and more.

The movie does have some horror aspects. The spiders alone are enough to throw me into a panic attack as I pack my bag to escape to NOPE-ville. *packs bags, muttering “nope, nope, nope.”* But in reality, the movie is rather funny. My favorite scene is when Deputy Williams’ cat fights a spider in an air vent, and during the fight, the cat’s face is imprinted over and over in the wall (as is the spider’s body) until it is eventually overcome by the massive spider and eaten. I love the exaggerated details of the cat’s face in the plaster. The scariest part for me was watching a man get wrapped in spider silk by two spiders at once.

Complete with dumb townspeople, a little romance, and the alien-obsessed radio DJ, this funny film definitely ranks somewhere around a 4 star movie for me. I can’t say anything higher because…well…spiders. The actors are fairly good too, with a young Scarlett Johansson, Leon Rippy, and Kari Wuhrer. Put on your biggest bug-squishing boots and grab a few cans of Raid. Enjoy the film…and then be overly cautious about spiders for the rest of the week like I have been my entire life. No seriously, after seeing this movie, walking into a spiderweb will make you fear for your life. Those with sever arachnophobia should watch this with caution, and I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 10 who can’t separate reality from fantasy yet, but it was indeed better than I expected, and if I didn’t have a choice, I’d probably keep my eyes open through it again.

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