Arachnoquake (Review)


Written by Paul A. Birkett and Eric Forsberg
Directed by Griff Furst

Prepare to get ARACHNOQUAKED!!! That’s when there is an earthquake, and GIANT FIRE-BREATHING ALBINO SPIDERS attack! It’s two disasters in one, crawling on eight legs and ready to roast and chomp you! Griff Furst directs this SyFy creature feature, and he has a pretty good track record of delivering an entertaining flick. Once again, a Furst knocks it out of the park, giving us some fun monster mayhem. The flaws in the flick are easily overlooked in the face of giant white spider death!

Now, a common theme for monster flicks is that the monsters were always there, just chilling in a closed off area that recently comes exposed thanks to mankind doing something awful like being greedy. SyFy flicks such as Caved In: Prehistoric Terror, Malibu Shark Attack, and Jersey Shore Shark Attack all feature a similar scenario. And so does Arachnoquake. The twist is, the earthquakes exposing the spider den were caused by fracking, the controversial process of injecting pressurized liquid into shale beds in order to extract hydrocarbons (aka oil), which has been blamed for everything from earthquakes to contaminating groundwater and making it flammable. Despite the big hubbub, fracking is barely mentioned in media. And while I don’t think it will lead to giant flame-breathing albino spiders destroying the American south, I do think it sucks.

Arachnoquake is more fun than a barrel of spiders. Parts are high energy, though it will veer off as we enter zones of plot development. The action is focused closer to the ground so we don’t really see the scope of the giant spider menace, but it would appear multiple states are in for a lot of problems. Arachnoquake does a good balance of not taking itself too seriously, but still being serious enough you feel the characters are in danger.

Paul (Bug Hall) – Paul is a drunken slacker who is down on his luck and doesn’t really want to do the bus tour he has to host. Driving the bus turns him into a de facto leader, which gives him a sense of responsibility he didn’t know he had or wanted. They have a guy named Bug Hall in a giant bug movie? Yes, spiders aren’t technically bugs, but then my joke is ruined. Don’t take that away from me!
Katelynn (Tracey Gold) – A science teacher who is just on a tour and didn’t sign up for this giant spider nonsense! But now she must protect her kids. She also needs a new inhaler. Her asthma attack becomes a phantom plotline, coming and going whenever it is convenient.
Charlie Blackwell (Edward Furlong) – The most realistic girls softball coach of all time! I don’t know what happened to Edward Furlong, he looked semi-okay just a year earlier, but now he looks like he is possessed by the ghost of Brad Dourif’s father. He spends most of the film in his own plotline.
Roy (Ethan Phillips) – Paul’s dad, who spends most of the film either yelling at Paul or blaming Paul for everything ever.
Petra (Olivia Hardt) – Paul’s sister, who is eager to help her dad and prove responsible, but besides wearing short shorts she does little after that.
Anabell (Megan Adelle) – Charlie’s daughter who does more to help her mom despite her past issues than her brother.
Spiders (CGI) – White albino spiders that breath fire and live underground in the darkness, until fracking causes them to be released to destroy New Orleans. They don’t have much of a brain.
Queen Spider (CGI) – The boss spider, uses her massive brain to control all the other spiders and likes to cocoon people up for dinner.

An earthquake opens a crack in the Earth, freeing a pack of albino spiders. A dude on a chicken farm gets ARACHNOQUAKED! ARACHNOQUAKED by an albino spider that pops out of a bite wound on the back of his neck, chasing him into a giant crevice in the ground. Another of the white spiders hitches a ride to the supermarket in a pack of eggs!

But enough prologue, we have our two families that we will follow as their lives get ARACHNOQUAKED!! Paul is a frak up who is perpetually late for work, drunk or hung over all the time, and even managed to lose the family boat. This is a problem because his family runs a tour guide business, and no boat = no tour, thus Paul costs them a lot of money. His father Roy has had it with his idiot son, and Paul’s sister Petra is eager to prove how responsible she is. Roy ships Paul off on driving a bus tour around New Orleans.

Charlie is a slacker bus driver with two teenage kids and Katelynn as a wife, but he misses out on taking them to New Orleans because his assistant was bitten by something (hmmm…) and he has to drive a school bus filled with a girl’s softball team. So his family goes on the New Orleans bus tour without him. The rest of the bus tour is an old man and a black couple, Glen and Tina. You might as well CGI the spider bite wounds on them now.

Despite Paul’s slacking, the bus tour runs across giant crevices and white spiders of increasing size. They flee the city, and in rapid time are at a remote gas station just outside of New Orleans (now, I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I find it hard to believe you can get to a remote gas station/supermarket from downtown in a matter of minutes…)

Of course, it’s soon attacked by giant spiders as well, and they escape back into the city, where cops are shooting the spiders (and there is cool effects work with spider goo splattering onto the camera!) Roy immediately assumes the giant spider invasion is Paul’s fault and yells at him. What a good dad!

Back at the tour company, Glen gives the hood version of the Sam Jackson speech from Deep Blue Sea, and then gets chomped just like Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea (spoilers for Deep Blue Sea!)

Did you know giant white spiders can walk on water? Because they can, and chase after the group as they escape on the recently recovered family boat. I will say it is cool to see Neelix blowing away giant spiders with a shotgun.

While all this is happening, we get a random subplot following Charlie’s character driving the bus, then crashing the bus to avoid giant spiders, then the bus being menaced by said spiders as some of the girls and Charlie beat the spiders with bats until the army arrives and shoots the spiders!

The tour group refugees run across the chicken farm from the beginning of the film, and science teacher Katelynn says she can dissect a spider to find their weaknesses if they catch one. So they do and she rips it open to find out how it ticks. We also learn the earthquakes releasing the spiders was caused by fracking! Finally, a movie addresses fracking as the horror it really is.

A spider attack!! The cast gets ARACHNOQUAKED to thin the numbers! Noooooooo, not Neelix!! Katelynn is also ganked by the spiders, and her daughter Anabelle chases after down the spider hole. Paul follows once he realizes his sister Petra has also been kidnapped! The spider victims are hung up like cocoons, which is supposed to be like in Aliens, but it really reminds me of the scene from Killer Klowns from Outer Space where the cotton candy victims are hung up. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is awesome, so props for that!

Like all these films, there’s a Queen Spider! She’s the brains for all these spiders, as the individuals don’t have brains! Yes, they are using science to try to explain the “kill the queen, they all die” rule of monster movies! And though the Queen was trapped, she’s freed due to the underground intruders and is soon chasing them. Queen Spider can also walk on water, dashing after the humans as they escape on their boat, following to New Orleans.

But before they get there, Katelynn has an asthma attack and dies. Charlie is in New Orleans when Anabelle arrives, giving the bad news that doesn’t even seem to register to Charlie. Everyone is too focused on watching the Queen Spider set up a nest between parts of a big office building. She’s immune to pretty much all the weapons the army is throwing at her. Paul suits up to fight the Queen Spider before she can lay a whole bunch of eggs. The plan is to drill into her, which will work for some reason even though giant missiles and guns aren’t working. Of course, it doesn’t work, and the new plan is for Paul to trick the Queen Spider into eating him, so the explosives he has will ignite the gas bladder of the spider. It does, there is a big boom, and all the spiders die.

Paul somehow doesn’t die, and is now a hero of the city. His father might even be proud of him, if he wasn’t ARACHNOQUAKED!

All in all, this was a pretty fun ride, and it didn’t follow the exact SyFy formula while still giving us a lot of what we need in a creature feature adventure. Props to Griff Furst for keeping it interesting. And I hope we’re all back soon for Hurricyclops vs. Cheeteor!

Rated 8/10 (codger, thank you ma’am, a real robot!, cool old man, less cool store clerk, star player, star player daddy, the Queen trapped in a cave)

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  1. Pingback: Arachnoquake | Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit

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