Arachnophobia (1990)

Spider acting!

Spoiler Free
Horror/ Comedy
Rated PG

When I was at school and term drew to a close, the teachers had given up trying to make us learn. It was very welcome. Suddenly all misty eyed, knowing our ineptitude was finally out of their hands and they’d be able to go to the pub and not have to hide who was shagging whom, they all became very laid back.

Our treat in celebration of the faculty’s giddy disengagement was frequently a VHS on the department TV- wheeled in and taking no less than forty minutes to set up.

In later years this meant rewatching The Matrix, which while a good film was done a disservice on the science department’s ageing cathode-ray. I saw The Matrix in the cinema and I think its repeat viewings from a distance in a crowded classroom of Catholic young gentlemen slightly tarnished my memory of it.

Before The Matrix passed the  “I can’t be fucked to teach” school appropriativity* test, we were treated to yearly screenings of Arachnophobia. My recollection was that it was fairly edgy for a kids’ film and that up until around the tenth showing I quite enjoyed the experience. Now that I have the power to watch Arachnophobia again and reverse the cinematic journey of The Matrix by employing the projector, I capitalised, intrigued as to how it has held up and how accurate my memory of it was.

Turns out that my addled memory was accurate, and not just in a “thank God I’m not being made to do physics” way. Sorry Mr. Edgar, spiders have more personality than you. Given that I can’t remember yesterday most of the time and apparently I now also invent memories, this was more of a science experiment than you might expect. I was pleased to pass- the only science test I have ever passed after my double D at GCSE.

If my GCSEs had been bra sizes they’d have been quite impressive.

The first thing I noticed is that Arachnophobia is scary, particularly if you don’t like spiders. They’re everywhere in it, and I know that sounds like stating the obvious but I mean real spiders are clearly used much of the time, to skin crawling effect. They are excellently put to use. Can spiders act? These ones can.

Also acting are some humans, particularly excellent is the always excellent John Goodman, in hilarious form as a pest exterminator. He is funny, but then so is much of the rest of the film. Arachnophobia is the perfect example of a horror-comedy. Equal parts genuinely scary and funny. Also the effects are astounding for a film almost thirty years old. Relying on some rather grim models and as mentioned, clever use of real spiders. It was a pleasure to revisit, and no doubt I will again.

Bedsit it?

If you are scared of spiders, I cannot think of a film less appropriate for you. If you find them mildly creepy and aren’t a complete wuss, Arachnophobia is a wonderful watch. It’s also only a PG so you can terrify your kids. 8/10

*I have no idea if appropriativity is a word, but it stays.


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