Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Spiders: New York Overrun
York’s subway rats have finally met their match. That is a bad thing. When mutant spiders crash to Earth with some
old space junk, they take roost throughout the lower Manhattan tunnel system in
Tibor Takacs’s creature feature Spiders (trailer here), which opens in
California theaters this Friday.
knew downtown stations still took tokens?
Probably not for long, though.
They are about to be renovated the hard way. Jason Cole is just starting
his shift at the transit command center, when the “Noble Street” stop is rocked
by the remains of a Soviet space station that somehow carefully threaded its
way through the surrounding buildings, into a perfect man-made lair. Since the spiders are not viral, initial
tests give Cole the go ahead to re-open the station. However, when waves of rats start freaking
out and dying, even the MTA (or NYT as they are called here) can tell they have
a problem on their hands.
turns out the Soviet-era brain-trust spliced some ancient alien DNA together
with some spiders because that seemed to be the thing to do at the time. The resulting mutants cast some wicked webs
that supposedly have all kinds of military applications. That is why the American armed forces have
set up shop somewhere just north of Battery Park City with the original
scientist who masterminded the Soviet experiments.
Spiders indulges in the
annoying fantasy a former Soviet scientist has the standing to give a high
ranking American military officer a lecture on morality. Indeed, the clichéd villainy of Col. Jenkins
is a real buzzkill in what could have been a perfectly pleasant exercise in
campy bug-hunting. Let’s be honest, if
mutant spiders really do start falling from the sky, we’ll be praying to see
the American troops arrive.
surprisingly, Spiders works best
during its most Cormanesque moments. The
special effects are a decidedly mixed bag, but the creepy way their legs move
looks good on camera and jut out well for 3D presentations. For the most part though, it is glaringly
obvious this is a B-movie, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Muldoon, who previously co-starred in Takacs’s Sci-Fi Channel movie Ice Spiders, is pretty credible as a
transit bureaucrat under extreme stress.
By now, he and Takacs must be real experts on surviving a mutant spider
attack. Christa Campbell also shows some
screen presence amid the bedlam as his ex-wife Rachel, a researcher with the
city health department. As one would
expect, Spiders follows in the long
genre tradition of couple’s therapy through monster rampage. British actors William Hope and Pete
Lee-Wilson largely embrace their characters’ stereotypes, chewing a fair amount
of scenery as Col. Jenkins and Dr. Darnoff, respectively.
watching Spiders, it is hard not to
think of Rick’s line in Casablanca: “there
are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you try to
invade.” Sure, the mutant spiders
terrorize lower downtown, but if they tried coming uptown we’d see who’d be
crying then. Spiders should have been a lot more fun, but the anti-military bias
is just a tired bummer. For giant mutant
genre diehards, it opens this Friday (2/8) in the Golden State, including the
Burbank Town Center 8 and the AMC Atlantic Times Square in Monterey Park.
Labels: Creature features