Big Ass Spider! Blu-ray Review
People are running for their lives, vehicles are ablaze, rubble is covering the streets, helicopters are circling, and a SWAT team is firing bullets into the sky. And then there it is: a big ass spider, scaling a building and sending downtown Los Angeles.
Jump back to just 12 hours earlier. Exterminator Alex (Greg Grunberg, who played Matt Parkman on Tim Kring’s HEROES) is making a house call. He fears no vermin, not even a brown recluse after it bites him. So how does the titular arachnid get past one of the city’s finest bug catchers? Well, it escapes from the lab of a doctor, who may have kept the thermostat just a tad too low. Now Alex and, for some reason or the other, security guard Jose (Lombardo Boyar, who voiced Raul in both HAPPY FEET movies)—who doesn’t seem like he should he carrying a walkie-talkie, much less a gun—have to find the spider. “In my line of work, it’s the little ones you have to worry about,” says Alex, having no idea just how big the problem will get.
BIG ASS SPIDER! is written by Gregory Gieras, who dipped into the territory a decade ago with CENTIPEDE!, about—you guessed it—giant centipedes, and directed by Mike Mendez (2006’s THE GRAVEDANCERS), who has called the giant ant classic THEM! one of the best of its kind.
BIG ASS SPIDER! isn’t quite a parody, as the humor doesn’t come from visible strings or blatantly phony miniatures. Instead, they come directly from the script and the cast. There are a number of funny (even hysterical at times) lines and performances, like those delivered by Boyar (“Maybe it’s a spider monkey”; his summation of annoying bugs) and the ghetto interviewees on the evening news, who are riled up about the city’s newest resident (“Hide yo kids!”)
Instead, it is more of a tribute with laughs. BIG ASS SPIDER! falls under the “giant killer animal” subgenre and, more specifically, the “giant spider” sub-subgenre, whose earliest entries include 1955’s TARANTULA, 1958’s EARTH VS. THE SPIDER and 1975’s THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION. BIG ASS SPIDER! is aware of both the appeal of this sort of fare and that a sense of humor can go further than frights or symbolism. (So no, the spider isn’t a stand-in for terrorism as the monsters were for communism in the ‘50s.) In fact, the movie works primarily because it balances both comedy and sci-fi/horror.
Both Mendez and Gieras are clearly fans of the kind of movie they’ve made here. That goes a long way and so BIG ASS SPIDER! isn’t the Microsoft Paint-constructed disaster that BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR was or as ridiculous as GIANT BLOBFISH VS. MEGA-MILLIPEDE or whatever junk SyFy threw up last year.
BIG ASS SPIDER! is of direct-to-video quality, but still fun and enjoyable for those that, like Mendez and Gieras, have a special place on their shelves for this stuff. They may even insist on a sequel—EVEN MORE BIG ASS SPIDERS!
BIG ASS SPIDER! BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. BIG ASS SPIDER! has an intentionally lower-budget look to it, but this high-definition transfer is still strong, as it features a fine details and clarity for the duration. (That doesn’t mean the special effects look any better, though.)
Audio: English 5.1 Surround Sound; English 2.0 Dolby TrueHD. The audio transfer is very strong, particularly when the sound effects come into heavy play during the showdown in downtown Los Angeles.
Audio Commentary: In this track, “stars Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar tell director Mike Mendez how they really feel about him”—at least according to the description on the back of the box. Although certainly not a highly technical track, the trio’s great chemistry makes it a fun listen.
BIG ASS SPIDER! Premiere (5:07): This South by Southwest featurette captures audience members before and after the premiere, as well as an introduction from Mendez.
Interviews with the Cast (1:23) compiles a handful of interview snippets with Greg Grunberg, Lombardo Boyar and Clare Kramer.