Plot: The dangers of radiation are myriad, but the United States is about to learn first hand about one of the most horrific side effects, massive mutated monsters. A huge spider has been created by the lingering radiation and as the arachnid goes on a total rampage, the entire nation could be demolished. The causalities have been piling up, with both human life loss and structural damage, leading to some elite scientists being brought in to brainstorm a solution. Of course, the military has its own ideas and wants to use powerful weapons to bring down the spider, but the scientists believe such attacks would be futile. Can a plan be formulated to end the giant spider’s reign of terror or will the world fall under its lethal web?
Entertainment Value: As most of his films are, The Giant Spider from director Christopher Mihm is a loving tribute and satire to genre cinema, this time the old, hokey monster movies of the atomic age. Mihm has a knack for these throwback style pictures and this one proves to be no exception, so those who appreciate these kind of monster movies should have fun here. The narrative is simple and straight forward, but it invests some time to skewer the gender roles involved and that spices things up, while also giving a warm zing to the original movies. The tone is over the top, but not to wild levels, just a dialed up take on the genre, while the performances and such remain fairly close to the source material. The same holds true for most of the elements here, rooted in the old atomic age conventions, but tweaked a little to add some comedic elements. This can throw some viewers off, since the performances and dialogue are on the wooden side, but that’s part of the charm here. I especially loved the spider effects, which were quite well done and again, remained faithful to the texture of the original movies. So for me, The Giant Spider was a fun watch and for those who like giant monsters or old school sci/fi, it is worth a look.
As I said above, the performances here are in line with the ones found in the original movies that inspired The Giant Spider, so they come off as wooden and even awkward, which can derail some viewers. Of course, if you’re familiar with the genre and old school pictures, then it makes more sense, but I think anyone with an affinity for b movies should pick things up here. I like how the actors embrace the dramatic style of the bygone era, but tune up their performances to be a little more knowing and over the top, as it results in some fun moments. I also think it helps if you’ve seen some of Mihm’s previous films, as there are some cross references here, but it is by no means required, it would add a little more to your experience. Shannon McDonough tends to stand out for me in this one, but not for all positive reasons, as she throws on one of the lamest accents I’ve heard. I appreciate the campiness and her performance is fine, but the accent can be like nails on a chalkboard at times. Daniel Sjerven is fun to watch however, while James Norgard is also memorable as scientist Dr. Gabriel. The cast here also includes Stephanie Mihm, Billie Jo Konze, and Mark Haider.
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