Written by Tony Griffin
I’d never heard of this movie, despite it being only a year old, but when a friend of mine suggested it for our “bad movie night” I was curious… So we watched it, and I’m SO glad we did!! This was a delightful and surprisingly entertaining Horror / Sci-Fi / Comedy (Horscificom?) movie, with a slightly better budget than one would suspect for this grade of movie. I went into this expecting the worst, and was pleasantly surprised!
The first thing I noticed right off the bat is, the star of the movie was someone I actually recognized! Greg Grunberg, from the 2006 – 2010 TV series “Heroes” (you may remember him as the telepathic cop, Matt Parkman), plays the part of Alex Mathis, a slightly full of himself, pest control expert, with aspirations of grandeur. At the beginning of the film, he is lying on a street, with rubble all around him. As the camera pans back, he sits up and looks around at the horrible carnage that has been caused by what we can only assume is, due to the title of the movie, a big ass spider!
Then we get a flashback to several hours earlier – Alex goes about his normal, daily routine, until an older woman (a long time client that obviously has a crush on him) tries to help him by killing a brown recluse spider on his shoulder, after he warns her not too…This lands him in the hospital, where he attempts to charm a pretty nurse, and fails, which is relevant because his “charm” towards the ladies becomes a running joke throughout the movie. As he is leaving, Alex stops to pay his bill (which he doesn’t have the money for) when a tech from the morgue comes in, saying there is an animal in the morgue that bit him on the neck. The wound is substantial, and he is taken away. The hospital administrator makes a deal with Alex to cover the cost of his bill, if he will take a look.
While in the morgue, Alex befriends a Hispanic security guard, Jose. The movie casts Jose in such a (near-offensive) stereotypical light, that his role is reminiscent of Cheech Marin from …well, pretty much any comedy that Cheech Marin has been in. But, it works, and this “dynamic duo” becomes an unlikely force to be reckoned with, as they go on the hunt for a large, housecat sized spider. Little do they realize, this is no ordinary housecat sized spider!
While our heroes are on the hunt in the bowels of the hospital, the military shows up, and takes over the operation. They lock down the building, and set up their command center. In charge is another familiar actor (veteran to stage and screen, Ray Wise) playing the iron-jawed Major Braxton Tanner, as well as his second-in-command and team leader, an attractive Lieutenant Karly Brant (played by Clare Kramer of Bring It On fame) who are in the know of what is actually going on.
As the heroes and military come together, Alex the Exterminator tries to woo the blonde bombshell, Lt. Brant, who takes her job very seriously, and spurns all of the hero’s advances. Every time…and there are a lot of times throughout the movie! They then are told that the spider is in fact an accident created by the U.S. Government (duh!) when they used alien DNA from a meteorite to grow super large food producing plants to help feed the world. Unfortunately, a spider got involved in the process somehow, and the results have been disastrous… then we find out, the housecat sized spider is only stage 2, out of 5!It grows (of course) into Stage 3, a tank sized monstrosity that goes on to terrorize down town Los Angeles. It first moves into a park full of people. An elderly jogger is one of its first public victims (played by legendary “B” producer Lloyd Kaufman – of Troma Films fame). It then goes on a killing spree; webbing and leg-stabbing people almost quicker than the eye can follow. One can only assume that it eats a lot of the park goers, as it isn’t too long before the scientist that created the project, sees an exoskeleton that has been discarded and states it has molted…it is in stage 4 now! (Stage 4 being a King Kong sized version, looking for enough food to reach Stage 5… reproduction!) It picks the top of the U.S. Bank Tower (remember Independence Day?) to make its nest and lay its eggs.
It also grabbed Lt Karly Brant and took her along to use as a snack for her growing brood! As several helicopters attack the giant spider (ala the famous King Kong scene) rubble falls from the building into the street below, causing Alex and Jose to crash their vehicle. Alex is apparently thrown clear, which catches us up to the scene at the beginning of the movie. Alex finds that Jose has survived the crash, and they find a bazooka in the back of the vehicle that Major Tanner had given them. Alex had earlier found out that the webbing from the spider was highly flammable, and had an idea to destroy the spider by shooting it in the spinneret – to which Jose replies, “You’re gonna shoot it in the butt?” Alex confirms this, and goes into the building to save Karly.
Finding Karly on the top floor, screaming because the egg sacks are hatching, Alex cuts her free in time to save her, but is unable to save several other people. They barely escape with their lives, and make it down stairs, just in time to avoid the air strike the Major has ordered.You would think that this would be the end of the movie, several Tomahawk or Sidewinder missiles hitting this big bug, but no, it merely is stunned, and falls to the ground. It then proceeds to get up, and is coming for our heroes. Alex distracts it long enough to get into position and shoots it in the butt…er, spinneret, with the bazooka. The spider blows up, and is killed. Alex is the hero of the day, and gets to kiss the girl…finally! The movies end with Alex wondering if the military is going to compensate him and replace his ruined exterminator truck, which suddenly had several “custom modifications”.
What I really enjoyed about this movie is that it was very much a poke at classic, low budget monster movies, but it wasn’t a parody, per say. The tongue in cheek comedy was in just large enough doses, as to not overpower the plot, and yet was obvious to everyone, even the actors, who played it up to the hilt. The casting was perfect, and overall the special effects were pretty well done, considering the budget. We were even treated to a face melting that was right up there with the famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. The giant spider, though CGI, was actually made to look like the giant, jerky-motion monsters of another era, giving even more entertainment value to this unexpected delight!
I can think of many worse ways to spend an evening with friends, and Big Ass Spider! is a perfect addition to that Halloween movie night list, to be sure! Enjoy, and have a Happy Halloween!