July 17, 2002

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'Eight Legged Freaks'
Eight-legged fun

IN A SEASON of overhyped merchandise-a-thons, it turns out that this summer's most enjoyable, least-pretentious flick stars, yes, a rampaging mob of oversize spiders. Even arachnophobes will have a good time with Eight-Legged Freaks, an homage to old-school creature features that's also the latest effects-driven, monster-invasion yarn spun from the maw of Independence Day team Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich (though directed by first-time feature helmer Ellory Elkayem). As you might suspect, the residents of tiny desert burg Prosperity (presumably down the road from tiny desert burg Perfection, as seen in Tremors) aren't aware that their sleazy mayor (Leon Rippy) has turned the town into a way station for toxic waste. An unfortunate accident leads to some very unfortunate mutations at a conveniently located exotic spider farm. Soon everyone – including Prosperity prodigal son Chris (David Arquette) and foxy sheriff Sam (Kari Wuhrer) – is on the run from giant, hairy, web slingers who sound like Gremlins and snack on humans. Despite the familiar story line, the fast-paced Eight-Legged Freaks rarely feels like a retread, thanks to a tone that perfectly melds humor hewn largely from one-liners with spectacularly creeptastic freak-outs. (Cheryl Eddy)