Sunday, January 26, 2014

Big Ass Spider! (2013)

Every once in a while, I leave a slot open in the Sunday “Bad” Movie schedule for a newer movie to slide in.  I’ll wait until I get closer to the date that I’ve designated for the new movie and then check what comes out around then on DVD and blu-ray.  I take a look and see if anything coming out a few weeks before that time seems like it would fit into the whole Sunday “Bad” Movie feel.  That’s how I came upon this week’s movie, Big Ass Spider!  Yes, the exclamation mark is a part of the title.

Big Ass Spider! was a 2013 limited release horror movie.  It went into theaters for a short amount of time near the end of October.  Director Mike Mendez and writer Gregory Gieras brought to screen a movie about a government mutated spider that terrorizes Los Angeles, and the ragtag group that is trying to put a stop to the arachnid threat.  The group consists of a military Major (Ray Wise), his Lieutenant (Clare Kramer), an exterminator (Greg Grunberg), and his new hospital security sidekick (Lombardo Boyar).

I don’t know why I would bury the lead on this one.  I loved this movie.  Too many of the “bad” movies that have come out recently spend too much time focusing on the bad aspects that they forget to have a sense of humor and have fun with the material.  The most notable that comes to mind is Sharknado.  I have spent a lot of time talking about how I hate the Sharknado culture.  I’m not here to get into my hate for that movie based on a personal principle that I have for “bad” movies.  I’m just going to use it as a point of reference for Big Ass Spider!

Sharknado is a movie that also came out in 2013.  It was from The Asylum and was about a group of people trying to outrun, and eventually trying to stop, a tornado that was filled with sharks.  The ridiculous storyline was played fairly straight which made for an alright watch.  The one aspect that kept it from being a movie I would recommend to other people was effort and care.  Sharknado felt like a movie that was made in a few days.  It seemed like they had a mentality of getting in and out as quick as possible.  Half of the actors in the movie, most notably Tara Reid, felt like they were there just to get paid, and had no investment in what was happening.  That’s a major problem.  When the actors don’t care about what they’re doing in the movie, it makes the characters feel non-existent.  When the crew doesn’t make the effort to have the background look like there is a storm occurring in a movie that is about a storm, the whole thing rings false.  That’s enough about Sharknado.  Let’s get into Big Ass Spider! and what it does to make its own ridiculous idea more enjoyable.

The first thing about Big Ass Spider! that elevates it over many of the other movies that attempt the same thing is that it has a sense of humor about itself.  The main character is a goofball exterminator who can “be a spider to catch the spider.”  I’m not sure if that’s the exact line, but it’s close enough to what he said that I will quote it.  He attempts to catch spiders by making spider sounds.  He gets himself stuck in webs and burns himself trying to get out.  He’s serious about extermination, but he’s so overly into spiders that it becomes a joke.  His sidekick is an accented stereotype who is the perfect character to bounce jokes off of.  Their back and forth makes for an entertaining comedic relationship.  Both Grunberg and Boyar give performances that show that they care about the material that they are working on.  Of course, these two characters aren’t the only source of comedy in the movie.  Many of the murders committed by the spider are humorous, as well as the news footage where one character exclaims that he saw a “big ass spider.”  The movie is first and foremost a comedy, which really helps in elevating the material above what other filmmakers have attempted.

Big Ass Spider! has a ridiculous concept, but it isn’t so ridiculous as to cross the border into an insane idea.  The concept is simply that the military were engineering vegetables to grow larger and they accidentally engineered a spider to do so.  It’s crazy, but not something that seems entirely impossible.  It keeps the movie rooted in some sort of extremely heightened reality.  It’s easier to invest in what is going on if it is even the slightest bit realistic.  This movie leaves that very tiny window of reality open that allows the story to play out in a way that fits with the real world setting.

There is a lot to love about Big Ass Spider!  The movie knows exactly what it is and plays right into it.  Everyone involved seemed to give enough of a damn to put some effort on the screen.  It looks good, it is fun to watch, and it provides enough laughs to give your gut a workout.  I’m glad that I chose this movie for the Sunday “Bad” Movies because it’s exactly the kind of movie I love to discover.  It would have been a great B-Movie if theaters still had the A-Movie/B-Movie system.  I could imagine it playing after Godzilla when that hits theaters.  How great would that be?  That would be great.  This is a movie that I would recommend to anyone interested in the movies that I cover in these blog posts.  Go out and find it right now.
There are a few notes that I am going to make at the end here, like I usually do:

  • Lin Shaye was in Big Ass Spider!  If you’ve been watching some of the movies I’ve covered, you might have noticed her in Surf School.
  • If you know anything about bad movies, you know Lloyd Kaufman.  He showed up in Big Ass Spider!  He also showed up in Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned.  Don’t forget he is in charge of Troma, so he also produced both Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, and Monster in the Closet.
  • I do have another post going up this week about the ten movies in the first fifty posts that I feel best represent the Sunday "Bad" Movies.  It's something I discussed on Twitter a couple weeks before the fiftieth posts, and I wrote it all down last week, better than on Twitter.
  • If you have any movies you would like to suggest for the Sunday “Bad” Movies, feel free to leave a comment.  I’ve never gotten suggestions in the comments, but it would be nice to.  I’ll also take them on Twitter.  Or I’ll take a follow on that account.  I’d like to talk to people there and give that more use than just pimping the blog posts.

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