As you may be aware, SyFy Channel showed a little film called “Sharknado” a few weeks ago, and it became an, ahem, “monster” hit. Tara Reid and Ian Ziering may have resurrected their careers thanks to their agents advice to take literally anything that was put in front of them. But SyFy Channel has been making films like this for years – after combining two monsters fighting (Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and so on), then combination monsters (Mansquito, Sharktopus) and then, natural disaster / monster mashups. “Arachnoquake” is definitely the spiritual prequel to “Sharknado”.
Did you know they farmed chickens in the bayous of New Orleans? I would’ve assumed the heat would have caused the eggs to go off too quickly, or the swamp creatures would make regular lunch of the chickens. But, no, there is one, and some swamp-hillbilly egg-packers are discussing the earthquake they felt last night, and how rare earthquakes are in New Orleans (a very similar conversation happens in Sharknado regarding tornados and Los Angeles). We see one of the worst CGI-ed, longest tongued spiders of all time sneaking onto an egg truck, and then our story leaves these colourful local characters…at least for the moment.
Aside: my good lady wife is a bit phobic about spiders, much as I am about rats (it’s the long tails, I think). But as soon as she saw the first spider in this film, it was so unrealistic that her phobia wasn’t triggered at all, and we were able to enjoy this delightful film together.
We’re introduced to the two main groups in the film – a tour guide, led by a guy with the amazing name Bug Hall, who gets a musical montage as he strolls through early morning New Orleans, doing the walk of non-shame; and a girls high school baseball team, coached by Edward Furlong, who’s grown into a creepy looking adult. The tour bus is the cannon fodder, which is lucky because we have giant spiders now! It turns out it’s all the fault of fracking, too. These spiders can breathe fire and run on the water, which immediately makes them the most badass spiders ever to be captured on film.
Much like every other super-low-budget film, they can’t afford to close streets or anything, so in the middle of a spider apocalypse you see people walking around calmly, busy highways and so on. I’d be tempted to wander onto the set if I saw SyFy Channel filming near me – they’re so incompetent I could probably get hired as a script editor if I made a half-sensible comment. “They can breathe fire?”
I don’t want to spoil any more of this film for you. The important thing about this film is it has an excellent sense of humour, and never takes itself seriously for a moment. We’ve got a guy in an elite army unit who must be 70 years old; spiders making a coccoon out of a school bus; a jive talking tour bus customer doing the big “we’ve got to win this thing” speech half a second before he’s eaten; Bug Hall’s sister acting cheerful and perky in the middle of death and destruction all around her; and the greatest of them all, the spider-killing outfit worn by Bug right at the end of the film.
As well as all that, it also has a surprisingly clever twist on the “last monster left alive” horror trope. I can only recommend it! It’s the film that “Sharknado” ought to have been, really – low budget filmmaking that’s prepared to have a laugh at itself while still trying pretty hard to create an entertaining film.