Big Ass Spider (2013)

Directed By: Mike Mendez
Written By: Gregory Gieras
Starring: Lin Shaye
  Ray Wise
  Greg Grunberg
  Clare Kramer
Big Ass Spider

Every now and then, we cineasts need to mix it up a bit. Always watching the same kinds of films from the same genre will inevitably become repetitive. I mean, I love horror (everybody should), but I also enjoy genre and art house films (in my opinion people who enjoy art house films should be open to genre films as well). What I am trying to say here is that I don’t believe art house films are non-genre films – and I think people who profess to enjoy only ‘intelligent’ cinema are plainly pretentious and firmly not my kind of people. I personally don’t see the problem in liking Haneke and also being a fan of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (and, yes, of course I’m talking about the original). Anyway, I digress. What I’m here to do is talk about a very, very fun movie. I’m sure that when some people hear the title of this one they immediately think it’s going to be rubbish (why are you even reading this then? Huh?!), but it’s worth bearing with me on this.

The other day I finally watched Big Ass Spider – a film by a director I very much like. I’m talking about Mike Mendez, director of films such as Gravedancers and Killers - the latter of which, incidentally, has one of my favourite ever opening scenes (although, if you play “The End” by The Doors in your film, you pretty much always win that title). Mendez is known for low-budget indie horror: basically films the average audience doesn’t like or doesn’t appreciate for reasons such as (but not limited to): bad acting (not true); bad screenplay (not normally true); bad effects (matter of opinion, I guess). Anyway, people are like that and I know a lot that would say these things about Big Ass Spider. BUT, if you agree with me so far, I can guarantee that you will enjoy Big Ass Spider as much as I did. The film doesn’t want anything more than to entertain us. What could be better? And entertain us it certainly does, because it’s just pure fun (and you can see the filmmaker and the cast/crew had fun making it). All good so far. So what actually happens in Big Ass Spider?

Without spoiling anything and or giving away the finer points of the storyline, the film is about a giant venomous spider terrorizing a city. Sounds good, right? It really is. Mendez fans will recognise that this film has less horror than his other movies but certainly doesn’t lack enthusiasm or love for the genre. It is, after all, an homage to ‘50s horror sci-fi flicks such as every Roger Corman monster movie or the 1954 film Them (about giant ants). Incidentally, the film Them would be an ideal candidate for a double feature with Big Ass Spider. Just sayin’.

On another note, having already mentioned the great opening scene in one of Mendez’ other films, I am pleased to say that Big Ass Spider has a similarly awesome opener. This time, the soundtrack is a great cover version of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind”. In terms of characters, Greg Grunberg plays the main role of the insect exterminator turned action hero, but for me the best character is his sidekick, Jose, played by Lombardo Boyer who is the comedy treasure of this film.

Now, I’d like to take a minute to talk about the visual effects. Admittedly they aren’t the best (they actually look a bit like a SyFy production), but does anyone actually care about that?! If the film is funny and entertaining!? The answer is NO! I mean, they didn’t have enough money for award-winning effects, but they had more passion than any SyFy film will ever have. We all love the Roger Corman classics and some of his monsters are just people in costumes, and let’s not even get started on the classic Godzilla films. In the end, we let these things fly because the project itself is made with enough rip-roaring passion to override this. Rant over. Phew.

So, summing up. Quirky cameos, classy one liners and great action make this film a highly enjoyable not-so-guilty pleasure of a ride for 80 short minutes. Everyone needs film like Big Ass Spider in their lives. Watch it.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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