Director – Mike Mendez
Cast – Greg Grunberg, Lombardo Boyar, Clare Kramer, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye
Release Year – 2013
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It has been a long time since I have seen a good, devout killer spider movie. Spiders 3D was a waste and I recently I have only seen spiders used in a positive manner in films that are really not about spiders, such as The Mist. Anyway, after years of waiting I can finally say that I have seen a good killer spider film in Big Ass Spider – a film that definitely lives up to its title. Intentionally heavy in all of the usual clichés associated with these films, like a bumbling hero and cheesy use of the military, I had more fun watching this flick than I should have and I do not mind that one bit. Not only that, but the horror is fantastic and comes with the utmost in kills and gore. I can’t ask for more than what Big Ass Spider provides.
Alex Mathis is not your typical bug and pest exterminator. He not only accepts baked goods as payment, he is also the best when it comes to killing spiders…and the United States military is in dire need of his services. When a genetically mutated spider escapes their facility, grows to massive proportions, and wreaks havoc on Los Angeles, the fate of humanity lies in the hands of an overweight buffoon ready for his 15 minutes of fame.
Writer Gregory Gieras (Dark Asylum) kicks off the film in awesome fashion with one of the coolest intros I have seen in a long time, consisting of a slow-motion foreshadowing of the carnage to come accompanied by blahblah’s soft and tender version of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?”. After this intro we are introduced to our star, Alex, and the hilarious life he lives. He is fully aware that most people overlook the value of a pest control agent, and he is damn proud of what he does – even to the point of accepting fruit cake as payment from older woman (Lin Shaye) who would snatch him up in a heartbeat if they could. As fate would have it, Alex winds up in the hospital at the same time as a dead person carrying the genetically modified spider who is currently using the body as a host. Once the spider breaks out it immediately begins feasting on and killing each human/patient it comes across, quickly growing in size and ferocity. When Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) arrives on scene to secure the area he brushes off the need for a common pest control worker, but soon enough he will rely on Alex’s expertise because as he puts it, he “becomes a spider…to catch a spider.”. From then on out the remainder of the film focuses on Alex and the military’s attempts to kill the giant spider as it treks across Los Angeles and kills multitudes of people in its path and in gory fashion. If I could give an accurate kill count I would, but if I had to guess I’d say there are about 50 on screen kills, which is downright awesome in my book. Alex does have help in saving the day though, and it comes via a hilarious supporting character: a very Hispanic hospital security guard. Clichés of all sorts are at play here, from ethnic stereotypes to the usual rent-a-cop jokes, and in the end they provide solid fun without going overboard. Gieras keeps things simple and focuses on the gore values of these types of horror films: cheese, humor, gore, kills, and perfectly mixes them into one really awesome story.
Director Mike Mendes does a really good job executing this story and making it come to life in the best way possible for a film of its budget and production value. After seeing his 2006 After Dark film The Gravedancers I knew this guy had some serious talent, and 7 years later he proves he still has it. Great acting performances also sell the film, and they relied heavily on Greg Gutfield to sell his role and he did so with flying colors. It was also a pleasure to see Ray Wise portray the cheesy Army Major, and Lombardo Boyar was highly enjoyable as the security guard Jose Ramos, but Gutfield stole the show and right fully so given how much the story relies on his character. Mendes’ execution of the horror is great as well, giving us lots of spooky scenes early on when the spider was only slightly large and still terrorizing its hospital victims. Once the spider left the hospital the scares were replaced with entertaining deaths that looked pretty good considering they came via CGI effects. Normally I hate on heavy use of CGI, but in this film’s case I could not see them accomplishing what they did with a giant live-action spider impaling people and sucking them in from 50 yards away with its web-spewing abilities.
Overall, Big Ass Spider is one of the most fun horror films I have seen in a long time. The cheese reigns high in the best way possible, providing gory kills, lots of action, and plenty of laughs. I highly recommend you check this out.