Plot: Colton West (Steve Guttenberg) was once a famous movie star, but his glory days have long since passed. He still clings to the thought that he is an A lister though, as evidenced when he walks off the set of his latest project. He thinks he is the star and is above working on “bug movies,” but his agent had to beg just to get Colton a cameo in the low budget picture. As he heads home, a series of earthquakes rock Los Angeles, but these are no normal seismic shakes. The mountains erupt in volcanic activity, sending lava spewing and fireballs across the city. Soon people begin to see large spiders emerge, ones imbued with fiery genetic makeup. These spiders are big, tough, and able to breathe fire to burn whatever stands in their path. Colton finds himself an unlikely hero when he saves a bus full of tourists, but his family is still somewhere in immense danger. Can a washed up movie star manage to thwart the assault of thousands of burning spiders, or will this prove to be Colton’s curtain call?
Entertainment Value: A tried & true formula in the low budget movie world is to take some nostalgic actors and pit them against some kind of strange creatures. In the old days this would mean getting a star on the tail end of their career to battle vampires or giant insects, but these days you need to go full retard. So not just massive spiders, but massive spiders with lava in their DNA. Lavalantula takes the concept and runs with it, giving all you could want in a made for television creature feature. In addition to 80s icon Steve Guttenberg, we have several other Police Academy regulars, Nia Peeples, and The Sandlot favorite Patrick Renna. So you have the nostalgia in the cast, so what about the giant fire spiders, right? As you’d expect, the special effects are not the best, but I’ve seen much worse in much better funded productions. I know some people shit on the cheap digital effects, but its no different than the low rent practical effects crews used back in the golden age of creature features. As long as the creature scenes are fun and look better than the CGI in The Mummy Returns, that’s enough.
This is one of the legion of movies made for the SyFy Channel, which of course means no naked bodies on showcase. There’s not a lot of blood, but there are numerous deaths via flame spiders to soak in. As I said above, the special effects are passable but not epic. I did like some of the kills where the spiders burned people alive with the fire breath, but the whole “jump on a person and burn them” approach got a little old. I say that because each of the kills of that type looked the same, regardless of the victim. I’d rather see less kills but more variety and creativity in the death scenes. So anyway, not much blood, but some fun special effects and you get to see baby fire spiders pour out of a teen girl’s mouth. As you’d expect, Lavalantula squeezes in a lot of corny dialogue and while most of it falls flat, a few nice lines make it through. You need to like puns, but if you’re watching these kind of movies, you probably appreciate cringe worthy dialogue. Lavalantula takes a wild concept and runs with it, but is held back by the television market. I would love to see some of these SyFy creature features go balls deep into madness, but at least this one is a cut above the crowd on the channel.
Overall Insanity: 3/10