Spiders (2001)
Directed by Gary Jones

Starring Josh Green Lana Parrilla Mark Phelan Nick Swarts Oliver Macready

Released in Japan sometime in 2000, only to hit U.S. video store shelves in 2001, "Spiders" is actually one hell of a fun movie. Director Jones is mostly known for his TV work, most notably "Xena" and the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" TV show. He also directed a 1995 clunker called "Mosquito," which I haven't had the pleasure of seeing yet.

"Spiders" starts off slow, and initially you may think it's going to be just another dull-as-death direct-to-video films. A college journalist (Lana Parrilla) attempts to convince her editor to let her write about a story involving two crackpots, both of whom claim to be from another planet. Her editor refuses. But she decides to investigate a nearby government base where the two supposed aliens claim mysterious goings-on have occurred. She convinces two college buddies to go along with her.

Yeah. Like I said, the opening of the movie is pretty lame.

Needless to say, they stumble upon a crashed U.S. space shuttle and realize they're in the midst of a government experiment gone wrong. The U.S. government has been using zero-gravity conditions in the space shuttle to inject alien DNA into spiders, to create the ultimate weapon. These new super spiders lay their eggs in human bodies. When they hatch, of course the infected person dies and a spider emerges.

The spiders somehow get bigger and bigger. After her two college pals are killed off, Parrilla finds herself doing battle against a giant six-foot six-legged creature and finally gets in touch with her inner Ripley. The film naturally borrows heavily from the "Alien" series, but it's more of a homage to '50s giant creatures films such as "Them." The pace is great during the last two thirds, and just when you think the movie is over, the spider invades Parrilla's college campus.

Considering that this is a low-budget direct-to-video film, it actually delivers some great special effects, including a number of "transformation" scenes, the likes of which we haven't seen since the early to mid-1980s. Make no mistake: this is a goofball movie. But it certainly beats most of the horror fare being produced by Hollywood today.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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