A secret expedition, to a South Pacific island, is searching for an unknown deadly virus. Loren Mercer, ex-Navy pilot, is in the South Pacific looking for her ex-boyfriend, Captain John Lightfoot; who disappeared while on a secret mission. What Mercer doesn’t know is that Lightfoot collided with an alien spacecraft that discharged biological material all over the island that they are heading for. The mortal virus seems to be transmitted by what the natives call a “very large” spider. As the scientific expedition makes its way to the other side of the island, it becomes obvious that it has turned into a tasty dish for the bloodthirsty giant-spider with a vicious killer instinct. Before they can save the world, they must try to save themselves!…
Back in 2001, Brian Yuzna introduced us to his (then) latest venture which was Fantastic Factory, a partnership with Julio Fernandez that would be a label underneath Barcelona film company Filmax, to produce English language genre films for a modest budget for the international market. Nine films were produced for Fantastic Factory including the Yuzna directed films “Faust”, “Rottweiler”, “Beyond Re-Animator”, and “Beneath Still Waters”. Of course I can’t forget to mention the terrific Stuart Gordon entry “Dagon”, but the film that I just finished viewing (and the only Fantastic Factory title other than “Romasanta”, that I had not previously seen) was Jack (“The Hidden”) Sholder’s “Arachnid”. I’m not sure why I never watched it when it was originally released on DVD in 2002, I may have enjoyed it more then, than now. Still, after a bumpy start, there is still much to enjoy in the film even if the wardrobe department should have been fired on site.
When a military plane runs into an alien spacecraft, the pilot discovers that the creatures on board are carrying spider-like parasites that end up being unleashed in the jungles. Months later, Dr. Leon (Jose Sancho) and his assistant Susana (Neus Asensi), are heading up an expedition into the heart of the crash to investigate a virus that is killing off a village. They recruit Valentine (Chris Potter) along with his group of mercenaries for backup. They need a pilot to get them there so the lovely Mercer (British actress and “The Descent 1 & 2” star Alex Reid) is brought in for the task. It doesn’t take long for things to go south when some sort of interference takes the plane out and they crash on the island. Since none of the electrical equipment will work, all they can do is continue on into the jungle to complete their mission. What they find is like nothing they have ever seen before. These mutations waste no time in plucking them off one by one, who will survive?
I enjoyed all of the Fantastic Factory films. My main complaint about many of them was (I know they were just trying to create a true international experience) the use of Spanish speaking actors who seemed to be struggling a bit with the English language. At times this was very distracting though I never thought they were bad actors, you could just tell that their accents were way too thick or that they were struggling a bit with English. Dr. Leon and Susana both had that problem in this film so yep, that distraction was here too. I am probably alone here on this one but for some reason, the clothes that everyone was wearing just didn’t look right to me. I really couldn’t put my finger on it so I guess it would be best described as everyone looked dorky.
This film was pretty generic, especially by todays’ standards when these giant bug movies seem to play on SyFy channel pretty frequently, but what sets “Arachnid” apart is that the creatures WERE NOT, I repeat, NOT CGI and looked pretty damn nice. Especially the giant spider and we have effects master Steve Johnson behind the creatures. For me, the film felt like a complete throwback to the giant monster movies that I grew up with and loved.
“Arachnid” is a success in my book. A film that works when it shouldn’t and boasts some rather impressive creature effects done the way they should be with some impressive animatronics. The acting was decent and the exotic locale works in their favor. I miss Yuzna’s Fantastic Factory, these were good films. I am giving “Arachnid” **** out of 5 stars. I can complain all day about the barely understandable English or the crummy clothes but the main question we should be looking at here is whether or not the film was entertaining and I have no problem telling you that yes, it is.