a zoo in hell


Big Ass Spider! (2013)

Letterboxd: http://boxd.it/2DwOj

Big Ass Spider!

First of all, let me say that I want to give props to the practical effects team for Big Ass Spider. I've been bitten by a Brown Recluse, and I watched in curiosity as the venom spread across my foot before I realized something was really wrong. If I had seen this movie before I was bitten, I would know exactly what a Recluse bite looks like.

Anyway, the first time I watched The Blob (1958) I was freaked-out. I was probably 7 or 8 and had managed to sneak a late-night viewing after I spotted it in TV Guide. I stayed up all night after watching that, just imaging The Blob slowly creeping up the first victim's hand. This wasn't the first giant monster movie, but it made an impression. Between that and Destroy All Monsters! I was hooked for life.

I'd be willing to bet Mike Mendez, director of Big Ass Spider! has a similar story. The film demonstrates an affinity for giant monster movies that is lacking from the usual hack-fest b-movies that get foisted on us fans. Not to mention a mastery of the basic building blocks of filmmaking. Mendez and DP Benji Bakshi took care in how they structured the visuals of the film and while you can't call this a masterpiece, it was nice to see some art brought to the subject matter.

The digital effects are mixed. Some are cool, some are just a hair better than the half-rendered stuff you see often on SyFy or Netflix. Yet, it is forgivable because the film is just fun enough. Many of the performances are as mixed, but the best come from actors that are in on the joke, such as Ray Wise and Patrick Bauchau. Greg Grunberg (Alex Mathis) is entertaining but some of the joke delivery is a little too self-conscious.

Big Ass Spider! belongs in the upper ranks of recent monster movie releases, and it's nice to see someone take on this material that isn't aiming for the lowest denominator of cable audiences. Lloyd Kaufman's cameo was an inspired one, and this film could have benefitted from a Troma touch. Their best films demonstrate the blend of shlock and satire that this is aiming for.

I should also mention that there are several low-budget special effects companies that specialize in military hardware. It's a bit nit picky, but the scrawny special forces and their gear in this film were just ridiculous. A little more attention to this kind of detail would have helped too.