Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
Stream to Scream: “BIG ASS SPIDER”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
In today’s current horror landscape, there seems to be three kinds of creature features made for hardcore monster movie fans. The first would be the big budget blockbusters such as GODZILLA or PACIFIC RIM, which offer insane monster fighting action at a massive scale. The second would be the no-budget Syfy Originals, which offer over-the-top monster-run-amok films with Z-grade FX and stern, humorless performances. And then there’s the few and far between that comes out of the independent film world, some which have a campy appreciation for the creature features of the past and some, such as BIG ASS SPIDER!, that embrace the genre’s nature and makes comedy out of an inherently comical concept.
However, just because BIG ASS SPIDER! is clearly a horror comedy doesn’t mean that the horror isn’t important to the production either; in fact, with melting faces, webbed corpses and spider attacks, BIG ASS SPIDER! does make sure that the film retains a facet of fright. But BIG ASS SPIDER! has a certain self-aware nature that spares it the eye-rolling fate of so many of its contemporaries, and by instead investing in its characters, the film offers more substance and intentional laughs that one might expect. And with Mike Mendez at the helm, there is enough craftsmanship in the set pieces on display that makes some of the more generic terror tropes feel tense once again.
For those unfamiliar, BIG ASS SPIDER! (as aptly as the title can be) follows a lowly exterminator who finds himself at a hospital where a rapidly-growing spider is wreaking havoc. After inserting himself into the situation, the exterminator and an eager hospital security guard find themselves in the middle of a government cover-up. Now, with the spider approaching gargantuan proportions, the unlikely group of heroes have to use their combined skills to take down a seemingly indestructible foe.
BIG ASS SPIDER! also has a very fitting crew behind Mendez, whose directorial and editing duties on the film keep his mischievous sensibilities ever-present in the final film. Benji Bakshi lenses the film with more depth and color than most low-budget creature features would dare, especially when crafting the scarier, more atmospheric imagery. Likewise, the FX work from Mohammed Bilal is surprisingly great for the budget level, and even the dodgier effects still rise above that of the direct-to-cable monster movies as there is a semblance of passion on display in BIG ASS SPIDER!
However, BIG ASS SPIDER! wouldn’t nearly be as enjoyable as it is had it not been for the efforts of the cast and crew, most of whom who give stereotypical monster movie characters an extra dimension via humor and chemistry. Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar are outright excellent as the resourceful, humorous pair of unlikely heroes at the center of BIG ASS SPIDER!, making the most of their screentime with their hilarious, improv-rooted rapport. Meanwhile, Clare Kramer brings an impressive spin to the “lead soldier” character, offering a believable badass edge balanced with a surprising amount of vulnerability. And, of course, the one and only Ray Wise plays the straight-faced general at the front of the cover-up, delivering the dramatic goods to ground the film among the larger-than-life likes of Grunberg and Boyar.
Overall, BIG ASS SPIDER! is an effective send-up of the Z-grade monster movie while showing exactly how a monster movie should be done. Equipped with the versatile and crafty vision of Mike Mendez and a more-than-game cast, BIG ASS SPIDER! is a perfect party movie for the horror crowd, and the film’s status as a burgeoning cult classic is more than earned.
BIG ASS SPIDER! is currently streaming on Netflix Instant.