director Mike Mendez
I don’t know that I would have watched Big Ass Spider! on my own, but after viewing the trailer with Felix, I decided that we would have a good double feature in Arachnophobia (1990) and Big Ass Spider!, and I was right.
The movie stars Greg Grunberg as a Western Exterminator goofball, whose passion for extermination is matched only by his nice guy loserhood. When he finds himself in a hospital in which a large arachnid has jumped from a body in the morgue to a killing rampage, he’s suddenly found the long-sought opportunity to prove himself a big time bug killer. He’s joined by a wonderfully silly and likable sidekick Jose (a terrific Lombardo Boyar), a sweet-natured, though dim security guard who saddles up with Grunberg on his adventures.
The film verges between something like Sharknado (2013) and something maybe much more fun and sincere. The shortcoming of the film is primarily in the cheapo effects of the spiders, done all CGI but clearly not one of the top shops in the game. The cheapness of the big scenes holds the film back a bit and really could make it that much more of an easy throw-away, but director Mike Mendez really hit paydirt with Grunberg and Boyar. They are a fun and funny, nice guy team of heroes, really, really likable and fun. I mean, for them alone, I’d be super happy to see a sequel.
The kids really enjoyed it too, for the same reasons. It’s fun and silly. There are a few gore effects that are a little intense perhaps for the kids but they’re rendered in the same cheap CGI as the spiders and so not really that effective.
One tip of the hat is a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman (Troma Übermensch himself) as a jogger and spider victim. That suggests a bit about what this film was going for in its goals, perhaps.
It’s one of the biggest shortcomings of modern digital effects over practical effects in low-budget horror films. Digital effects are kind of soulless. You can achieve, perhaps more inexpensively, a broader range of amazing fantastic ideas, but it’s rarely genuinely “effective”. A film with the kind of heart and spirit of Big Ass Spider!‘s main heroes deserves either better digital effects or something a bit more interesting to fill in the spaces where the monster spiders are doing their thing.
Still, pretty fun.