The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 3.17.14 Issue #298: Spiders (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 03.17.2014
A look at the killer giant spider movie Spiders, plus two more TV Quick Hits, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #298: Spiders (2013)
Monster March: Week 3
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to use a lawn mower as a weapon, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and ninety-eight, Monster March continues with a look at the 2013 monster movie Spiders, directed by Tibor Takacs.
Spiders, also known as Spiders 3D because it was either shot in/converted into 3D and played in some movie theatres in 3D, is a nifty, well made monster movie that should have received a bigger North American theatrical release from distributors Millennium Films. Yes, the movie doesn't have any big stars in it, but that shouldn't have deterred the movie company from getting the movie into as many movie theatres as possible. And, really, what's the point of making a "3D" movie if people can't see it in 3D? The whole "3D at home" thing is over, isn't it?
The movie stars Patrick Muldoon as Jason, a New York City subway supervisor who finds himself fighting gigantic, killer mutant spiders after an old Soviet satellite falls out of the sky and lands in the subway. At first, Jason and the other gathered city authorities have no idea what to do other than close the area off and figure out what the heck actually happened. How often do old Soviet satellites fall out of the sky and land in the New York City subway (well, how often do objects in general fall out of the sky and land in the New York City subway system? I know that, before this movie, I had never heard of such a thing ever happening)? So then some stuff happens, the city decides to send some exterminators underground to deal with whatever the heck is going on, some smallish but still large spiders show up, and people start dying. First, a homeless guy gets dissolved, and then Caz (Vincenzo Nikoli), one of Jason's buddies, gets torn apart by a swarm of creepy crawlers. It doesn't take long for the military to move in and declare the situation beyond the control of regular civilian authorities.
So then some more stuff happens, an ex-Soviet scientist named Dr. Darnoff (Pete Lee-Wilson) shows up, and everyone starts looking for the "queen egg." While all of that is going on, Jason checks in with his ex-wife Rachel (the mega hot Christa Campbell) and his daughter Emily (Sydney Sweeney). They're both scared, of course, because their apartment has been sectioned off by the military and they, too, have no idea what's going on (and Rachel, as a city health inspector, is pissed because she's a city official. Why the heck doesn't she know anything?). And while all of that is going on, we find out via Dr. Darnoff that the old Soviet Russians started a program to create super spiders for military purposes and that the Russians may have had "help" creating those super spiders after finding a spaceship in ice. So it's not the Russian's fault that all of this is happening. They were just taking advantage of a major opportunity. The Americans, if they had had the opportunity to salvage the space ship and create weaponized giant spiders they would have done it, too. Or something like that.
Now, once all of that hooey is out of the way and Jason's daughter is taken by the military (the military operation, run by the douchebag Colonel Jenkins brilliantly played by William Hope, really wants Jason out of commission, mostly because it doesn't want Jason speaking to the press about what he knows and, oh crap, he has the queen egg), the movie becomes a race against time to stop the spiders, find the queen egg, and save the city. Jason and Rachel end up traipsing around underground, encountering more and more killer spiders. The spiders keep growing and growing becoming even more dangerous as the movie goes on. Will Jason and Rachel be able to save Emily?
The first thing you'll notice about Spiders, outside of the obvious fact that it was not shot in New York City, is that it has a big city vibe about it anyway. There's a gloominess to the area that you normally see in NYC set movies that's just a bit off, yes, but still works anyway. And the second thing you'll notice is that the producers spent decent money on the spider special effects. For what amounts to a high low budget monster movie, Spiders has some of the best looking special effects ever put together. The spiders, both large and small, look terrifying and incredibly dangerous. And while they do look scarier in the subway sections, the spiders actually look scary, too, above ground in the sunlight. How often do you see that in a special effects laden low budget monster movie?
And then there's the whole "PG-13" thing. How the hell did this movie get a PG-13 rating? And if Millennium Films pushed for that rating why wasn't the movie then released on DVD unrated? Isn't that sort of the protocol for these kinds of movies? I mean, the "spider eggs inside the dead body" scene, while cool as hell, could have been a good reason to hand out an "R" rating.
The acting, across the board, is phenomenal. Muldoon does a great job as Jason the subway official and concerned father. He's flawed, charismatic, and you just want to root for him. He also comes off as a smart guy who isn't going to be sucked into any kind of bullshit. Most movie heroes are like that, but it's always a hoot to see it done well.
Christa Campbell is excellent as Rachel the concerned mother and city health inspector. Her adversarial relationship with ex-husband Jason is fun to witness, and when she has to start fighting the killer spiders and search/save her daughter she's a believable badass. I didn't think it would turn out that way, though. I really thought she would devolve into a helpless woman, but she never does, and that's just awesome. And Sydney Sweeney is great as the daughter Emily. She's a little annoying at first, but she starts to grow on you and that's always a plus.
William Hope is a major douchebag as Colonel Jenkins. All he wants to do is kill the spiders, keep the spiders operation a secret, and treat people like garbage. He isn't all that adept at killing the spiders, but he's advanced at the other two things. I really wanted to see him devoured from the inside by the spiders. That would have been classic.
And Pete Lee-Wilson does a good job as the mysterious Dr. Darnoff. It probably takes too long to get to know him, but once you do get to know him you kind of hope that he succeeds. I mean, you wouldn't seeing him ripped apart by one of the bigger spiders (spoiler alert: he does get eventually get eaten) as he's one of the people responsible for creating the spiders in the first place, but you also sort of want to see him get the spider problem under control. If he's the only one who knows what's really going on he has to succeed. Good job Lee-Wilson.
The movie ends with the prospect of a sequel, which I would be down for. I'd imagine that movie would also come out with a limited theatrical release followed by a DVD release. Again, Spiders should have been given a bigger, wider release. People would have gone to see it in a movie theatre if they had known about it. It was released in 3D, man. People love that kind of thing when done right. I know I would have made an effort to see it on the big screen.
See Spiders. See it, see it, see it. It's worth checking out.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 10+
Explosions: Multiple big ones and small ones.
Nudity?: None. It's a PG-13 movie.
Doobage: An abandoned Russian space station floating in space, low budget space animation, a pulverized space station, a spider bite, electrocution, radiation detectors, a disappointing birthday party, a dead body filled with spider eggs, off screen music downloads, a subway evacuation, attempted extermination, nasty underground stuff, multiple spider swarms, spider materials, multiple underground spider attacks, webbing attacks, warehouse attack, forklift used as a weapon, fire hydrant used as a weapon, Gatling gun attack, some serious gutting, car crushing, doctor eating, multiple explosions, subway train used as a giant projectile, and the promise of a sequel.
Kim Richards?: Attempted. Sort of.
Gratuitous: Spiders, an abandoned Russian space station floating in space, low budget space animation, Patrick Muldoon, "New York Trans," Christa Campbell, killer spiders, a Russian doctor, a douchebag colonel, a Village Voice newspaper dispenser, spider webbing attacks, doctor eating, subway train used as a giant projectile, and the promise of a sequel.
Best lines: "It's New York City. There's always a crisis," "Your wife still got that cat?," "Damn rats," "It's spiders!," "This is bullshit," "Jesus Christ, what the hell happened?," "So that is what this is all about? Huge spiders?," and "It's just rats."
Next week: Ice Road Terror!
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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Return to Nuke'Em High Vol.1: The newest movie from the fine folks at Troma and director Lloyd Kaufman has been getting some decent reviews from the "mainstream" press (that doesn't happen often for Troma movies) and, I'd imagine, has been a hit wherever it has played. The first Nuke'Em High movie is a classic, while the sequels are, at best, okay (they're fun but too slow). Return sounds and looks like a return to "old" form.
Now, how long do we have until Vol. 2 comes out?
- 20 Ft. Below: The Darkness Descending: Another week, another low budget movie starring the great Danny Trejo. Or, at least, featuring Danny Trejo. The trailer is kind of creepy, and the idea of having people living underground organizing a revolt against the outside world isn't something we see every day. Definitely worth a rental, just to see how much Danny Trejo we're actually getting.
- Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetsnaz: I'm shocked that we have a second Outpost sequel. I didn't think there would be a franchise after the first one. And what's the deal with all of the Nazi zombies? It seems like we have a new one of those every month.
- Tom Holland's Twisted Tales: This is some sort of low budget anthology deal created by and featuring the great Tom Holland. That should be all the reason you need to want to check it out. I know I want to check it out.
- Flashpoint: The Final Season: This excellent Canadian-American co-production didn't get much love from the American critics when it aired on CBS and then Ion, which is a crime because it was one of the best shows on TV when it was on. Enrico Colantoni deserved an Emmy nomination for his part as team leader Greg Parker. If you didn't watch the show when it aired, do yourself a favor and see all five seasons. It's well worth your time.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
- Believe thoughts: This new NBC show, co-created by Alfonso Cuaron, is an okay show. It isn't anything overly special, despite what the commercials and "co-created by Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron" thing say. It's a solid action show with a pseudo science plot concerning, I guess, telekinesis or some bullshit like that.
Delroy Lindo is great in his part as the leader of the shadowy outfit that keeps the special little girl safe, and the girl, played by Johnny Sequoyah, is clearly having fun being the focus of the show. Jake McLaughlin, the death row inmate who is charged with protecting Sequoyah every single day and just so happens to be the girl's father, is a bit of a mystery at the moment. He's dumbfounded about what the heck is actually happening to him, and he just seems to be along for the ride. Hopefully, as the show goes on McLaughlin's Tate becomes a bigger part of the plot and more active.
Now, the big conspiracy at the heart of the show is a tad confusing. Who the hell is Kyle MacLachlan supposed to be? Is he some rich guy creating telekinetic children for nefarious reasons? Is he a super secret government contractor that wants the little girl, Bo, to become a super agent or some bullshit (no one would ever suspect a child!)? And how the hell did Lindo's group get a death row inmate out of prison, and why the hell aren't the cops after him? Wouldn't the FBI be involved? Wouldn't there be a nationwide dragnet for an escaped death row inmate?
I'll give the show a few more weeks, just to see where it goes. I want Believe to be a good show. Hopefully it all works out and becomes a good show. NBC needs the help.
- Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey thoughts: The first few minutes of Cosmos worried me. I was worried that, despite the promise of a show about the greatness and importance of science, what we were actually getting was a showcase for space related special effects. Everything looked great and was beautiful, sure, but what the hell does any of that have to do with science? Thankfully, the show settled down and host Neil deGrasse Tyson steered the "Imagination Ship" or whatever the hell it's called into a fascinating overview of the grandeur of the universe.
I'm not quite sure where the show is going to go next or how Tyson and the producers plan on moving forward. Will every episode resemble the first one, or will each episode be its own thing? Will a show about evolution be the same as the show about space? And how much space will the animated segments take up? Will we get one episode that's mostly animation?
Tyson does a good job as host. I'm kind of surprised that the show doesn't feature other scientists talking about whatever, though. I mean, should we trust a physicist when it comes to biology?
Hopefully Fox won't cancel the show or move it to another night. The network has made a huge commitment to the show, so, again, let's all hope that no one panics and the audience sticks around and grows. Cosmos is worth watching.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Christa Campbell
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Sparks: How often do we get to see low budget, period set comic book movies? I know several have been made but I can't remember the last one. The great Clancy Brown, the Kurgan hisself, is the bad guy in this, so that's another reason to give this a go.
- The Wrath of Vajra: The trailer for this flick is quite exciting, but the whole "Japanese death cult kidnapping Chinese kids to make them killers" thing makes me a bit uneasy. Is it meant to be historically accurate, or is there something else at work here? Perhaps I'm not supposed to pay attention to the history aspect of the story? I don't know.
- Flu: This is apparently some sort of Korean disease disaster flick. It looks both sad and kind of exciting, as it doesn't appear to be a zombie movie. It's just a movie about how bad a disease can be. Anyone out there see this?
- Cybergeddon: This appeared on the internets as some sort of web series back in 2012. It's from the guy that created CSI and it stars the incredibly talented and super hot Missy Peregrym. I don't know anyone who watched it when it was exclusively online so I have no idea if it's any good. The show does look cool, so based solely on that (and the presence of Peregrym) it's worth checking out.
- Battle of the Undead: This low budget zombie movie was originally called Cannon Fodder, which I think is a much cooler title than the rather generic Battle of the Undead. But then Battle of the Undead does tell you that the movie is a zombie movie of some sort, and Cannon Fodder could mean anything. It still looks kind of cool, and the political subtext that's apparent in the trailer makes the movie sound more interesting than the normal, modern low budget zombie movie. Anyone out there see this? Anyone at all?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
"A Democrat? Me? Well, not really..."
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, for leading the charge on the Democratic side against Debo P. Adegbile, President Obama's pick to the head the Civil Rights division at the Department of Justice. Senator Casey, along with several other Democrats, decided to join the Senate's Republicans in blocking Adegbile because Adegbile, as head of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, helped convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal get his death sentence overturned. Now, cop killer Abu-Jamal did not get out of prison because of Adegbile's efforts, he just had his sentence changed to life-in-prison. In other words, Adegbile, as a defense lawyer, did his fucking job and advocated for his client. Isn't that what defense lawyers are supposed to do?
Well, yeah, but in the sick world of lame ass Democratic politics that kind of shit doesn't matter. No, what matters is Republican talking point bullshit (Democrats are for criminals and Republicans are for the good guys). Democrats are terrified, even when they have the numbers advantage, of being labeled, well, Democrats. It's such goddamn bullshit.
Wouldn't it be nice if the Democrats, as a whole, would one day stand up for what they believe? And since when is it a crime to follow the law?
And then there's Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, for helping block fellow Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's military rape law. McCaskill, yet another lame ass Democrat terrified of being called a Democrat and labeled "weak on defense," helped torpedo Gillibrand's proposed legislation that would have made it easier for rape victims to speak up and get justice by removing commanders from the reporting and justice process. Commanders have to be kept in the loop and they have to be allowed to make the final decision, even when they're the ones accused of rape, because doing otherwise would hurt "unit cohesion" and the ability of commanders to control their people.
So, essentially, according to McCaskill, it's okay for the military to cover up rape and sexual abuse because if it couldn't there could be problems in the field and that's more important (would you want terrified people raped by their commanders to be in your unit? Would you want your commander to have that kind of power? How is that not insane?).
It's all very disgraceful. I don't expect Senator McCaskill to understand that, though. There are always far more important things to worry about.
So much fucking bullshit.
And then there's the Ultra Right Wing Media Machine, for losing its mind over President Obama's recent weekend stay in Florida during the ongoing crisis/invasion of Crimea by Russia. As the fine folks at Media Matters for America highlight, Obama's severe dereliction of duty was okay back when George W. Bush did it in 2008 when Russia invaded neighbor Georgia. Because, you know, that Russian invasion was completely different.
The URWMM has no shame. None at all.
And finally there's Fox for cancelling Raising Hope. What kind of fucking bullshit is that? It's one of the best comedies on TV. It's goddamn hilarious. It's also been on for four years. Why move it to Friday nights, one of the worst nights for TV? It sounds to me like Fox, for whatever insane reason, wanted to kill it. Good job, Fox. What the fuck are you going to replace it with? Reruns of Bones, another show you want to get rid of? Some sort of God awful reality show? And how long will it be before Enlisted is eliminated, too?
Good job, Fox. Kill one of your best shows for no reason. Brilliant fucking move.
Indycar and NASCAR thoughts
The Indycar Series finally made it official last week that Verizon will be the new series sponsor starting this year, replacing Izod. According to Racer Magazine's website, the Verizon sponsorship will be more advertising based than money based (Verizon will be offering up $10 million a year, although I have no idea if that money is going to be used solely for advertising or if it's going to be part of a year end point fund). Everyone involved in the series seems excited, mostly because of the promise Verizon has apparently made that it's going to be more involved than Izod was. There seems to be a consensus among the series regulars that what the series really needs is a bigger advertising scheme and they all think that Verizon, since it has done a relatively good job, on a small scale, getting Team Penske's Will Power's name out there (he's been featured in several commercials), can do the same thing on a larger scale for the series.
I'll admit that Verizon seems like a better fit than Izod, as Verizon has bigger general name recognition (I had no idea what Izod was until it was named as the Indycar Series sponsor). However, the Indycar Series needs to work in conjunction with Verizon to make this sponsorship work. It cannot, as it has done a million times before, just let Verizon work by itself. And if TV ratings don't increase substantially after the first year the series cannot throw in the towel and start griping about how Verizon is selling the series short. The series will want to do that, but, again, it cannot. It has to stick with Verizon, work with Verizon, and let the whole thing play out.
I am a little confused, though, by the "grandfathered" sponsorship of Will Power. If the series is called the "Verizon Indycar Series" and there's a car with Verizon on it (it'll be two cars when Power's Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya has Verizon on the side pod for eight races), won't people assume that the Verizon car is getting special treatment? Don't be surprised if Power kicks ass in the first few races and the other teams complain. It's the Indycar Series. That kind of shit happens all of the time.
Only two weeks to go before the season starts March 30th at St. Pete.
Over in NASCAR, I have no idea what the heck is going on as I was unable to see either the Nationwide race on Saturday or the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. I did see that several people crashed on Friday afternoon during practice. I guess Bristol, with the new rules package, is a little harder to drive now. Hopefully both races were good and exciting, although I'd imagine that the Nationwide race, once again full of moonlighting Sprint Cup drivers, was a bust.
California is next for the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The Camping World Trucks Series is back in action the following week at Martinsville (the Nationwide Series will be off that week).
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Patrick Muldoon- Jason Christa Campbell- Rachel William Hope- Colonel Jenkins Sydney Sweeney- Emily Christian Contreras- Pete Pete Lee-Wilson- Dr. Darnoff Vincenzo Nikoli- Caz Shelly Varod- Phoebe
Directed by Tibor Takacs Screenplay by Joseph Farrugia and Tibor Takacs, based on a story by Dustin Warburton
Distributed by Millennium Entertainment
Rated PG-13 for creature violence and disturbing imagery Runtime- 89 minutes