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Creature Feature Wednesdays: Squirming/laughing with 'Arachnophobia'

In honor of the recent Syfy premiere of Mike Mendez’s Lavalantula (aka Police Academy 8: Spiders on Patrol), this week’s Creature Feature Wednesdays pick continues the spidery comedy motif, with a throwback to 1990’s Arachnophobia. By featuring a tagline like “Eight legs, two fangs, and an attitude,” a scary good time is a virtual guarantee.

As B-level as a spider flick may sound, Arachnophobia delivers on a multitude of levels. Let’s dive.

The Gist

Boasting a cool 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Arachnophobia is actually one of the good ones. It stars Jeff Daniels (Newsroom) and Harley Jane Kozak (Parenthood) as a city-loving couple who move to small-town Canaima, California, with their two kids in tow. Daniels plays Ross, the new town doctor, who quickly learns it’s hard to garner the townsfolk’s affections. And it doesn’t help when his first patients mysteriously die. No worries—it’s just a bunch of super-deadly exotic spiders to blame.

But as the arachnid numbers grow, Canaima becomes under attack. Now it’s up to spider-fearing Ross, the town sheriff (Stuart Pankin, Fatal Attraction), a couple of bug scientists (Julian Sands, Warlock, and Brian McNamara, Army Wives), and one offbeat exterminator (John Goodman, Roseanne), to take down the spider army and its queen—all of which just happen to take up residence at Ross’ place.

Arachnophobia

The Spiders

While I love a good Syfy original flick with terrible CGI, my heart is at home with practical effects. Arachnophobia uses fake spiders, puppet spiders, and REAL spiders—all of which are terrifying. The arachnids are not big-ass spiders climbing up a skyscraper or biting off a grown man’s head. Instead, they hide in a slipper or football helmet. They crawl up a bed. They drop from a lamp or showerhead. They’re small doses of creepy fun—until the end, of course, when the spider army emerges from every crevice and corner of Ross’ farmhouse. And then it becomes full-blown, squirmish terror—all while keeping it fun.

Arachnophobia

John Goodman

Goodman plays Delbert McClintock, the confident town bug slayer. He’s a little nerdy and inept, but coolly controls the situation—or, at least, he thinks he does. Looking less like an exterminator and more like a Ghostbuster, Delbert assists Ross in ridding the town of the deadly spiders. In truth, this apocalyptic scenario is akin to Delbert’s apparent life calling of insect extermination. While Goodman’s role is small, his presence is anything but. Delbert is subtle yet colorful, and helps to flesh out the already awesome Arachnophobia. Rock and roll.

Arachnophobia - John Goodman

Fun Facts

  • Director Frank Marshall wanted Arachnophobia to feel more like Hitchcock’s The Birds.
  • The smaller spiders featured in the movie are called Avondale spiders, a completely harmless member of the crab-spider family. That tarantula, though? Now, that bird-eating spider can leave a nasty bite.
  • Arachnophobia was Hollywood Pictures’ (an offshoot of Disney) first film. This allowed Disney to create a studio that could release flicks that were less for kids and more for grown-ups.

View the impossibly fun trailer for Arachnophobia below:

Tips for viewing: With the exception of a few, these movies are not masterpieces. Don’t view them as such. Don’t take them seriously. Watch them with friends and create your own commentary—on the acting, editing, bad choices, etc. And remember—have fun!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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