What’s it About?
A giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and rampage the city of Los Angeles. When a massive military strike fails, it is up to a team of scientists and one clever exterminator to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.
“Big Ass Spider!”
Directed by Mike Mendez
Director Mike Mendez, who surprised many horror movie fans with his capable and engaging supernatural thriller, “The Gravedancers,” goes all out with this retro and humorous sci fi monster flick called “Big Ass Spider.” Writer Greg Gieras (Centipede! and Dark Island) supplies the brisk story of an alien spider (whipped up in a biology lab for the US Government) that grows in size while terrorizing hapless citizens in LA. The movie begins with actor Greg Grunberg (LOST, Heroes) as professional insect exterminator, Alex Mathis, waking up on a devastated L.A. street. He makes his way, disoriented, to what appears to be the source of all the destruction and mayhem and then Mendez eventually shows us a shot of a large “behemoth” spider at the top of a building fighting off Army Helicopters and Jets as it uses it’s webs and long legs to defend itself. The movie, then, is off with a bang.
So, ok, that’s the set up. You know right away that this is going to be a quite zany ride full of monster mayhem with over the top characters and situations not excluding some funky CGI of a spider going around dissolving it’s poor victims with acid spray and devouring hospital patients and Army guys. On, pretty much any given Saturday afternoon, the SyFy Channel churns out farcical Z grade monster pictures with has been actors, shaky CGI and dodgy dialog. For the most part the films have been solidifying that fact that these flicks are disposable and completely bargain bin material. The social media success of the movie “Sharknado” seems to have re-vitalized the interest of these “so bad, it’s good” monster films. But when they double dip and tap that well too many times we stop enjoying these films (how many bigfoot or crocodile monster pictures do we really need?) and start ridiculing them.
That being said, though, Mendez manages to whip up a fun little creature feature about, yes, a “Big Ass Spider.” The title alone gives you an indication that the film is going to try to be bold and unique. Well, somewhat unique. Mendez and crew go in trying to separate itself from all of the other inane entries of this genre with a sense of humor and a slew of stereotypical vignettes that are sometimes hilarious and other times a bit cringe inducing. Alex (Grunberg), at the films beginning arrives to save an elderly woman (Lin Shaye) from a nasty little rat. It appears that she has something for Alex and tries often to get him out to her house in order to feel his man breasts and give him fruit bread. This early sequence is pleasing, light and shows us that Alex is a bit awkward but honest and like-able.
After he gets bit by a rare spider he finds himself in the Hospital and once there he continues to show us that he is not very good at flirting, conversing and defines himself to others by being able to “be the spider” and “think like the spider” or some hokey thing like that. Meanwhile, in another part of the Hospital, a nasty foreign spider eats it’s way out of a dead man’s chest and starts to make it’s rounds munching on patients and spitting acid at people while it grows rapidly in various stages of growth. Ray Wise (Jeepers Creepers 2) as an Army heavy and Patrick Bauchau also star in the film as does Clare Kramer as LT. Brant who starts to fall for Alex after he is recruited at the Hospital to help the Army catch the spider. After the spider gets away and Alex and his sidekick, the hilarious Jose (Boyar) take things into their own hands and pursue the monster spider as it wreaks havoc in L.A.
With his meager budget, Mendez gives us brisk 80 minutes of spider mayhem that takes itself seriously but maintains a lot of absurdity and fun. He respects classic giant monster films and it shows. There are some great scenes of the spider knocking off all kinds of people (the park sequence has to been seen to be believed) with it’s webbing while impaling joggers and scantily clad woman in bikini’s and thongs with it’s sharp and lethal legs.. The film is not very politically correct and it knows this. In bits here and there, the movie treads on tasteless ground but never to the point of offending. The film gives us just about every stereotype there is solely for laughs in order to create a dynamic. Jose being one of the most prominent stereotypes as an uneducated but brave hispanic security guard. Now, don’t get me wrong the movie is not always that funny. Some jokes and scenes do fall flat and you may find yourself rolling your eyes a bit but I commend Mendez for pulling all the stops, here.
More mayhem ensues with Army helicopters, tanks, jets, explosions and even a pretty well staged confrontation with the Army, the spider, Alex and Jose in the park. It does end well for Alex’s Exterminator pick up truck, though. “BAS” is simple and decisive in the way it unfolds and Mendez gives us fun characters to love and hate and he does it with a keen respect. Despite being a small picture, Mendez produces some large fits and starts to the material giving it an edge over more like minded adventures. Boyar and Grunberg (and Kramer) all have great chemistry and Wise is capable, tough and even amiable. They hold the movie together as they know the film should be taken with a semi serious grain of salt. The humor works in it’s favor as well. The film is not completely self aware or overly self referential and as we follow the exploits of Alex, Brant, Jose and The US Army, we get to have fun riding along with them. “Big Ass Spider” is a gas of a movie and fares well by the end as it wraps up nicely.
Not sporting the best FX in the business, the CGI stills looks ok and we already know by the film’s start what we are getting into. Mendez’ movies shows admiration, grit and sustainability which makes “BAS” a very cool little monster flick for a Saturday afternoon. It’s loud, silly and sports some great tongue in cheek hilarity that is very refreshing. Enjoy!
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