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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Arachnophobia hits all the right notes. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a classic film produced in 1990. Though Spielberg only had a part in production, he deserves to be on this masterpiece. Directed by Frank Marshall who also brought us Congo (’95), an oddly bad film that I absolutely love. The title is perfect. This film is terrified of spiders and you should too! They’re filthy creatures! Despite their ecological benefits and crucial role in ecosystems and life in general, it’s really okay to hate them. Really, go ahead. Regardless, this is definitely a good watch.
The film follows the invasion of an exotic spider into a small rural town. We have Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) who takes a new job in this town after the original city doctor decides to retire (and then retracts his retirement as soon as Dr. Jenning’s arrives). The Jenning’s family has enough difficulty in adjusting, and the friction between the soon-to-retire previous doctor only adds to the fire. Along the way, we start see a few mysterious and unexplained deaths. Like a smart doctor, Dr. Jennings believes there is something deeper but faces broad opposition from the rest of the city and garners a local name, Dr. Death (a name I would consider a great honor!). Ultimately, we get to bottom of the story and realize that this exotic spider is actually living in the Jenning’s barn. The apex of the film is superb with Dr. Jenning’s battling the queen spider. There’s fire, wine, death, and happiness!
Let’s get personal and allow me to explain why I’m writing about this. I was recently forced into a career change and today was my first day under my new profession of pest management. While I could be happier, I’m glad to be helping out establishments and residences by getting rid of their creepy-crawlies (kind of fits in the gorehounds cinematic taste, huh?). Well during the course of my training period my supervisor questioned us with “When you think of a guy coming over to conduct pest control at your house, what picture comes into mind?” I didn’t respond because I like to get a feel for the audience and atmosphere before I open my mouth, but in my mind all I saw was John Goodman from Arachnophobia. I smiled. His cocky, yet humorous, presence all but makes my heart glitter. He is wonderful, he is marvelous, and he is awesome. I wouldn’t be writing about this movie if Delbert McClintocky (Goodman) wasn’t involved. Don’t go away from my review without understanding that John Goodman is great, especially when killing these eight legged freaks. I only wish to be as cool and spunky as he.
The tingles up your back, that uneasiness seeing the spider crawl, and intensity of the bite are 10/10. The gore factor is minimal because this isn’t horror film, it’s a thriller. It’s family friendly and will stick with you. It’s got a greatness quality like Gremlins, but instead of the cute Gizmo, we have a cute John Goodman. Yes, I would have loved to see a giant spider puncture a few men while seeing the blood squirt… but I’m a gorehound and most moviegoers are not. In addition, all the characters are spot on. The entomologist gives us exactly what we need from the cinematic scientist: to provide the details and facts, build up the sense of destruction this creature could cause, and then back off. We don’t need to see him anymore and he does that. It’s great! The family is also good, a supportive wife who tries to ease the tension between all the friction, and loving children who lubricate the film into a well-oiled machine. The townsfolk play there parts too by holding fast to their tradition and being skeptical of this city’s boys outrageous claims, giving us a great story.
I love this movie and while the pest control industry probably isn’t too happy with John Goodman’s inept verbal skills and social awkardness, I hope someday, John Goodman and the gorehound can sit down and enjoy a beer, maybe kill a few spiders while we’re at it. Enjoy this film whether you’re with your family, alone and sad, or on a bright and sunny day. I really don’t care, just get this film under your belt and appreciate it for all it’s worth!