Sunday, July 10, 2016

Don't Bug Me

Arachnophobia 
Director: Frank Marshall
Cast: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, Harley Jane Kozak, Julians Sands
Released: July 18, 1990



"Arachnophobia" is a noun defined as the pathological fear or loathing of spiders. Even though I don't particularly care for spiders, I wouldn't say I have arachnophobia. If I see one on my wall or ceiling, I"ll just grab a plastic cup and trap it under there, then place a measuring cup over it to make sure the spider doesn't get out (I don't want it touching me!) I will either toss it down the toilet, or, if I'm feeling generous, I'll let it outside. My most recent "scary" encounter with a spider was about a year ago. I felt something on my leg and I just figured it was my cat's tail brushing up against my leg because that's what it felt like...but when I looked down, I saw a daddy-long-legs on my bare legs. OMG, I shrieked so loud and brushed that sucker off of me! Ughghghghg! I hate the feeling of creepy crawlies crawling on you! 

However, my most terrifying encounter with a spider happened when I was about six or seven years old. I was sitting in my bed, doing whatever (like I remember...this happened a long time ago! I was probably reading or playing with My Little Ponies because those were my toy of choice!) and I had my bedspread folded over. When I unfolded the bedspread, I saw, I swear to God, I am not making this up, the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen in my entire life. It was black and was about the size of a sand dollar and I remember it looking very shiny, like it had this sheen to it. But like I said, this happened so long ago that I may be remembering certain details wrong! Surprisingly, I remember being very calm and went down to the basement where my dad was and told him there was a spider on my bed and he came up and disposed of it for me. I'll have to ask him if he remembers this. I feel like if this spider was as big as I remember, there's no way he would be able to forget about it! 

But other than those two instances, I haven't had any really bad experiences with spiders. I had already seen this movie twice before (and I could have sworn it was rated R, but it's PG-13) but it still make me shriek out loud several times. I scared my cat, who was sitting next to me, the first time I shrieked. This is the beginning of the movie where an American photographer is in Venezuela taking photos of new species of insects British entomologist James Atherton (Julians Sands) hopes to find in the Amazon. They spray this gas up into a tree and all these different insects fall out and into jars that they have set up to collect them. They hear bigger thumps and notice a few spiders, quite large. The photographer asks Atherton if the spider is dead and he assures him it is and he gets really close to the spider with his camera and the spider jumps on the lens! OMG, that made me shriek so loud, thus scaring my poor cat! Then I screamed again, minutes later, when the photographer, who isn't feeling very well and has a fever, takes a nap in his sleeping bag. Unbeknownst to him, one of the new species of spiders has crawled and hidden in his bag and it crawls in his sleeping bag and I screamed when he felt something and opened his sleeping bag and sees the spider and it bites him on the leg. The guy dies and they think it was because of the fever.

He is sent back to his small home town of Canaima, California along with the spider that hitches a ride in the coffin. The spider makes its way outside where it is captured by a crow who drops dead after the spider bites it and it ends up in the woods near a house with a barn. The Jennings family from San Francisco is moving into this house. Ross (Jeff Daniels) is a doctor who has moved to the small town to take over the practice of the aging town doctor, Dr. Metcalf. He has moved here with his wife, Molly (Harley Jane Kozak - yeah, I've never heard of her either) and his kids, Shelley and Tommy. We learn very quickly that Ross has arachnophobia when his son tells him there's a spider in one of the moving boxes and he has his wife come and deal with it. She tells them that the spider is more afraid of them than they are of it. She lifts it up with a magazine and carries it to the barn. Well, guess who else decided to make its home in the barn? The venomous Venezuelan spider. There is an odd scene of the two spiders rubbing legs together as they have fallen in love and now are going to procreate (ugh!) A huge web is spun in the barn and hundred of eggs are hatched :::shudder:::

Molly, who is a photographer, has found the web and takes photos of it, thinking it's beautiful. It is quite an impressive web. She also takes Ross to see it, thinking it might be good therapy for his fear of spiders. His fear goes back all the way to when he was two years old. He claims he remembers being in his crib in his diaper and a spider crawling along his bare skin, paralyzing him with fear and he has never gotten over his arachnophobia. As he's looking at the web, the ladder breaks and he falls into it and a DEAD RAT is revealed to be caught in the web. The Jennings are laughing about the whole incident, but I would be a little concerned that there's a dead rat in the web...spiders aren't suppose to eat rats! That would send alarm bells off in me!

Ross finds out that Dr. Metcalf has decided not to retire and wants to keep his practice so this means that Dr. Jennings only has one patient, an older woman who is a retired teacher. He (half-jokingly) tells his wife he hopes she has a lot of things wrong with her, but she turns out to be quite healthy. She was on heart medication, but he tells her she doesn't need it anymore. When she is found dead in her house a few days later, he admits he took her off the pills and Dr. Metcalf blames her death on that, but Ross is adamant that she didn't need them anymore and wants an autopsy but Dr. Metcalf refuses. Even though she was technically Dr. Jenning's patient at the time, Dr. Metcalf says he has seniority over him since she was his patient much longer than she was Jenning's patient. What actually happened was she was bitten by a spider offspring that had crawled up her lamp and bit her hand when she reached to turn it off. There was a close call earlier when the spider was crawling on the couch her cat was sitting on and she scooped her up just before the spider reached her. There's also a scene earlier when the Venezuelan spider has just gotten out of the coffin and there's a cat hissing at it and a dog barking at it. I was so worried for all the cats and dogs in this movie the first time I saw this, but the only animal that dies is the crow...oh, and the rat found in the web. I can handle that, but I would have been so upset if any dogs or cats had died!

Ross gets more patients when the high school football coach wants him to give his players physicals. During a football game, a spider crawls into one of the player's helmets (after crawling on the bleachers and a handful of people unknowingly having close calls with it) and when the teen is called to be in the game, he puts on his helmet only to collapse seconds after being tackled. He is pronounced dead at the scene and everyone is confused because the tackle wasn't that hard. Can you imagine being the guy who tackled him, thinking you killed somebody? I would never play football again if I were him! Again, Ross is refused an autopsy of the young man. He has been given the unfortunate nickname "Dr. Death" since all his patients have died after being treated by him.

The next victim is Dr. Metcalf himself when a spider crawls into one of his slippers as he's walking on the treadmill. He's going to take a shower and is about to walk to the bathroom when his wife tells him that the floor is cold and he should put on his slippers....so his wife basically killed him! He puts on the slippers, and, you guessed it, is dead seconds later. Ross and the police arrive at the Metcalf house. Mrs. Metcalf tells them her husband had complained about a spider bite, but one of the police officers thinks he died of cardiac arrest since he had just been on the treadmill. Ross finally gets to have an autopsy performed and the cause of death was caused by an excess amount of venom. Ross wants the two other bodies exhumed so they can see if they were also killed because of spider bites and finds out, indeed, they were. 

He gets in touch with Atherton who says that Canaima sounds familiar to him. Ross soon finds out that the photographer who died on a recent trip to Venezuela was from the same small town and they also find out he died from a poisonous spider bite instead of a fever.

Ross's daughter has a sleepover at her friend's house and he tells the girls if they see any spiders, to run away. We get a scene of the girls scaring each other with spider riddles and songs, and of course, we see a spider slowly making its way down on its web-making material (whatever you call that!) The girls never even notice the spider (and why would they notice such a small creature?), but a doll laying around near them OPENS ITS EYES when the spider descends down. Um, how the hell did a doll manage to open its eyes on its own?? Is this doll related to Chucky or something? Geeze, that was almost creepier than anything with spiders in this movie. There's also another scene where Ross is checking his kids' room to make sure there are no spiders in sight. He checks under the bed and around the room and claims the rooms are "all cleared". Does he really think those rooms are cleared of spiders? Does he know how small spiders are and they can easily hide in every nook and cranny? That would be terrifying if there were spiders around that could kill people within minutes. I'm surprised the entire town wasn't quarantined! 

By this time there are so many spiders that an exterminator named Delbert (John Goodman) is called. His company is called Bugs-B-Gone. This movie is classified as a comedy-horror and he provides most, if not all the comedy moments. He doesn't seem to be a very good exterminator, though, because instead of spraying the chemicals in the rooms where people claim they saw spiders, he just looks around and says, "No spiders here." He does this in the bathroom of the high school coach. The coach's daughter had been taking a shower and she's closing her eyes as she's washing her hair and a spider is crawling along on the curtain rod, then it FALLS ON HER FACE! :::Shudder::: For some reason, she doesn't even notice there's a spider on her face...and she wasn't even under the nozzle! I would understand if she was standing under the water and didn't notice it. The spider crawls down her body and she only notices it when it's on her foot and screams. When Delbert comes to the house, he just looks behind the toilet, but doesn't do a good job because we see that one is hiding behind there!

Atherton sees the photograph of the web that Molly took that's in Ross's waiting room and wants to be taken to the barn because he knows that's where the nest is. He recognizes the web as the same one the photographer took in Venezuela. He goes inside the barn, knowing full well how dangerous these spiders are and knowing he's entering their domain and ends up getting attacked and killed by the OG spider. Delbert later comes into the barn (smartly wearing protective gear...I don't know why EVERYBODY didn't cover themselves from head to toe in hazmat suits) and finds Atherton's body wrapped in the web material. He arrives not long after the spider attacked Atherton so I don't know how the hell he got wrapped up so quickly!

Ross needs to urgently ask the undertake a question, but his phone is off the hook because he and his wife want to watch Wheel of Fortune without any interruptions. They also make popcorn to watch it which seems like a waste of popcorn to me....popcorn should only be consumed when watching movies! That should be a law! He arrives at the house to find both of them dead. I understood why the wife died because we see her reaching for a handful of popcorn (while her eyes are on the TV screen, of course!) and there's a spider in the bowl she grabs. So she must have eaten the spider and died from its toxins...but then how did her husband die? Unless the spider bit her hand, she shrieked and flung her hands and the spider ended up on her husband and bit him too? I guess that makes more sense....but you never see how they were killed, just that they're dead when Ross arrives at their house.

Now knowing that the nest is in his barn, he knows he must go back and kill the "Queen". His house is crawling with spiders and he's trying to get his family out. There's a nice little '80s/'90s cultural reference with Family Ties being on TV and they see a spider crawling down the screen on Michael J. Fox's (aka Alex P. Keaton....yeah, I watched Family Ties!) face. Ross tries to kill the main spider but even throwing it into the fire proves to be unsuccessful as it just leaps out back at him! He ends up shooting a nail at it with his nail gun and all this nasty liquid comes oozing out of it. But before that there was this scene that made me jump out of my skin! He sees the spider go through a pipe and is waiting at the other end with a lighter and a can of bug spray so he can light the spider on fire when it comes out the other end, but he waits and waits and nothing happens. When he takes down the flame, the spider comes rushing past him and jumps on his face! OMG, that scared me so much. I feel like spiders should not be this smart!

I found this movie to be more on the horror side, than on the comedy side! I definitely jumped and shrieked more than I laughed! In fact, I don't think I ever actually laughed! I may not have arachnophobia and I prefer to keep it that way....just keep the spiders away from me!

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