Little Miyuki loved her Saturday mornings…. A big bowl of Rice Crispies, some toast and jam, and a double feature of cheesy monster movies on TV. A weekly ritual which help shape that wee lil’ slip of a kitten into the crazy movie obsessed Catgirl I am today. I always loved those movies. Sure they had the most primitive “special effects” ever… and even then I just knew those films were silly and unintentionally funny, but goodness how I loved watching them. So… when independent filmmaker Mike Mendez decided to put out his latest film, “Big Ass Spider!”, I’m fairly certain that he had someone like me in mind as a perfect example of his target audience…..
Our synopsis goes: “Alex Mathis, freelance exterminator visits an emergency room after being bitten by a spider while on the job. As he’s upstairs receiving treatment, a mortician down in the morgue is attacked by a huge spider hidden inside a recently arrived corpse. Alex, a self-proclaimed spider expert, sets out to find and exterminate the critter, but quickly learns that this is definitely no simple spider. Instead, it turns out to be a top secret military experiment gone horribly wrong. Not long after, the Army quickly descends on the hospital to try to contain the scene. Unfortunately neither they… nor Alex… are adequately prepared to tackle the menace that is… the Big Ass Spider!!”
A giant mutant bug attacking a city and battling the Army. Oh yeah… Neko’s certainly been there before, and golly gee whiz… it’s usually pretty darn fun. Well… at least for me. Carolyn’s a good sport, and usually puts up with my movies full of ghosts, and aliens, and kung-fu crazies, but creepy crawly bugs just make her skin crawl. Looks like I’m gonna owe her a romantic comedy…. ;)
Anyways…. you, o’ Gentle Visitors are a different story. You, like a certain goofy kitten, really like these sorts of Grade Z monster films (and if you don’t.. well… boy are you reading the wrong blog, Hehehehe!!) , so whatcha waiting for? Hurry up and “Read On” and let me tell you all about this one!!
Atomic mutant bugs on a rampage. Now there’s a genre staple from my childhood. They used to churn these things out by the dozens back in the day… some pretty darn good, like “Them!” and “Tarantula” to some pretty darn silly ones like “The Black Scorpion” or “The Giant Spider Invasion”. Guess what? I watched them all. Apparently… so did a lot of other crazy fans. It’s for these movie junkies that a movie like “Big Ass Spider!” gets made.
Our story revolves around the buddy comedy pair-up of exterminator Alex Mathis (played by Greg Grunberg) and hospital security guard Jose (played by Lombardo Boyar) who team up after a chance meeting at the emergency room to battle a giant mutant spider that threatens to destroy Los Angeles. Along the way they encounter sexy Army Lieutenant Karly Brant (played by Clare Kramer) and her superior, Major Braxton Tanner (played by Ray Wise) who are futility trying to keep the existence of the mutant monster a secret while still managing to somehow engage it in deadly combat within the city.
It’s a neat idea… one that the SyFy channel managed to use to make a staple of the sort of made-for-TV monster movie fare they seem to specialize in these days. Now mind you… those movies are usually pretty darn terrible fly-by-night productions barely rescued from the trash bin at the last moment to fill programing time at that cable network. However… most of those films know they are pretty much utter crap. Yet.. they somehow manage to rise above it by actually celebrating that very factor, reveling in their ludicrously silly plots, bad acting by nobodies and a few “once-were- somebodies”, along with their laughably cheap looking CGI effects, and it’s that spunky “never-say-too-cheesy” attitude that “Big Ass Spider!” tries to emulate here. For the most part they pretty much succeed in doing just that and even raise the bar a wee bit from time to time. Of particular note in that area is the CGI, which is surprisingly good stuff, the product fittingly enough of ICE Animations, a Pakistani effects group which ought to be given some serious praise for their work throughout. It’s polished, effective, and not at all laughably fake looking like most of the films this one is imitating. Great work guys.
If you watch these sorts of films, then I really don’t need to go into too much detail about the story… trust me it sticks pretty much to the “Giant Bug Stomp-athon” playbook. You know… Giant bug shows up… guy meets girl… girl detests guy… big bug eats some folk… the army shows up… all heck breaks loose… lots of stuff gets destroyed… big explosions… lots of shooting… butt loads of army and civilians die… hero mans up in time to save girl, help army destroy monster… all ends well. Yep. That’s our story.
Like most of these modern takes on this old story, there’s gotta be some comedy thrown in. Those great old black & white films of the 50’s and 60’s lil’ Miyuki watched took all this stuff seriously, but nowadays the idea of big killer bugs seems to go down much better with a few laughs. Here I’d say, “Big Ass Spider!” is at it’s weakest, misfiring and fizzling a bit as it struggles to do any of that. Lombardo Boyar as Jose does his level best to do the comedy sidekick bit, but unfortunately the writers really didn’t give him enough ammunition to pull it off with great success. Maybe that’s the fault of the frantic pace this one takes to tell it’s story. It does seem rushed at points, with only 80 minutes to tell it’s tale as our big ol’ bug goes from chihuahua scaled menace to Godzilla sized city ravager in under an hour. I could have stood to see a couple of more minutes of more personal stuff between our leads scattered here and there throughout to help make the laughs work. It can be done…. “Tremors” managed to take it’s silly burrowing worm monsters and tell a very funny monster movie plot in roughly 96 minutes. Oh well….
So basically this one ends up being a fairly nice lil’ bit of lite entertainment but nothing more. Palatable and easy to follow, but with no real meat to it’s bones. I give it 3 “Meows” out of 5 but can’t really recommend that you rush right out to grab a copy. Nope. This one is probably one you’ll want to catch when it hits TV, and then it’ll probably bring back some fun nostalgic memories of the “big bug rampage” films you might have watched as a kid.
But…. no matter what any other critics say… it’s still head and shoulders a much better film than “Sharknado”… ;)
Yep…. and now it’s time for a peek at the Trailer… enjoy! ;)