Review By Paul Mount, 3.5 out of 5

Ellory Elkayem’s affectionate homage to all those classic 1950’s mutated monster B-Movies (the best of which, THEM, is referenced here) is a bright and breezy fun romp which thrills but never chills and is an inoffensive way of wasting 95 minutes. And that’s the problem. EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS’ tongue is too firmly in cheek, the horror is downplayed by the attempts at levity and the real terror of the scenario – basically giant spiders on the rampage – is buried under the weight of a script which never takes itself seriously. The inaptly-named Arizona town of Prosperity is besieged by horse-sized arachnids and much chaos ensues as the spiders stock up their underground larder and reluctant heroes Chris McCormack (Arquette) and Sheriff Parker (Wuhrer) lead the fight back against the mutated aggressors.

It’s a fast and furious movie. The Z-list cast throw themselves into it with gusto (nice to see TV’s SLIDERS star Wuhrer in a high-profile movie for a change) and the effects are breathtaking. The tone of the film just lets the side down a bit too much. The relentlessly cheery music score detracts from the scares and the anthropomorphing of the spiders – lots of squeaks and grunts and the spider equivalent of comedy gurning – robs them of any real fright value. One or two scenes chill and there’s a high ‘splat’ factor but the overall impression is of a film which could have been a lot more memorable if it had been less tribute-to-a-genre and more modern reinvention. An entertaining failure.

THE DISC: The usual high quality transfer we might expect from Warners and a nice raft of extras including an amusing commentary by Arquette, Elkayem and producer Dean Devlin and, best of all, Elkayem’s short black-and-white film ‘Larger Than Life’ which actually racks up a lot more tension than the film itself. Oh, and Warners, can we have a word about those clip cases? They really have to go, you know.

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