A swarm of tiny mutated spiders descend upon the residents of an american 'burb.
Somehow, with a none too catchy title and villains that create a genuine terror in many people - sharks and aliens are one thing, a spider could well be in your bath when you get home - Arachnophobia just about held its own last summer in the great US box office stampede. This is, no doubt, due to two important factors: it's scary and it's funny.
The devastatingly wooden Julian Sands is an entomologist striding around Venezuela, the better to catch and catalogue his beloved creepy crawlies, accompanied by a bumbling and very-soon-dead photographer. The monstrously lethal spider which caused the hapless lensman's death hitches a ride in the coffin back to his parents in Canaima, a small town in Northern California, while simultaneously, a new fresh-faced doctor (Daniels) is setting up home with his young and wholesome brood. By hook, by crook and, as it happens, by rook, the large, hairy and deeply unnattractive octopod joins the young family in the bedroom-bagging, mates with a local, and starts off the dynasty that will soon reduce Canaima to a gibbering shadow of its former self.
Relying heavily on the clean-cut humour of his mentor Mr. Spielberg, director Marshall nevertheless racks up the squeal-factor as the new doctor's patients start mysteriously croaking and our lethal little chums scuttle around the town stamping their mark on its history. So far, it's fun and scary in a you'll-jump-out-of-your-seat-but-you won't-have-nightmares way - with Daniels once again proving that he should be a lot more famous than he is, and a supporting cast as confident as they are likeable. Indeed, it is with the entrance of Delbert the bug exterminator (Goodman) that the movie really picks up, with the big man at his awesome best.
The question, of course, is whether or not the spider sequences can be stomached by the faint of heart. And, when the inevitable show-down with the multitudinous arachnoids comes, the spider-haters in the audience were indeed cheering a tad hysterically for two legs to overcome eight.
Be assured that the Empire representative from the arachnophobes' ranks not only willingly sat through the entire movie, but declared it an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable, experience.