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Eight Legged Freaks

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Eight Legged Freaks
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEllory Elkayem
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Ellory Elkayem
  • Randy Kornfield
Produced by
CinematographyJohn S. Bartley
Edited byDavid Siegel
Music byJohn Ottman
Distributed by
Release dates
  • July 17, 2002 (2002-07-17) (United States)
  • August 15, 2002 (2002-08-15) (Germany)
  • September 26, 2002 (2002-09-26) (Australia)
Running time
103 minutes
  • United States
  • Germany
  • Australia
Budget$30 million[2][3]
Box office$45 million[3]

Eight Legged Freaks (originally titled Arac Attack,[2] under which it was released in some parts of Europe and other countries around the world) is a 2002 monster comedy horror film directed by Ellory Elkayem and starring David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, Doug E. Doug, and Scarlett Johansson. The plot follows spiders that are exposed to mutagenic toxic waste, causing them to grow to colossal sizes and attack a small American mining town.



On a highway outside the quiet mining town of Prosperity, Arizona, a truck driver swerves to avoid a rabbit, causing a barrel of toxic waste to land in a pond. Crickets that feed from the pond are collected by an exotic spider farmer, Joshua Taft.

One week later, he shows Mike Parker, a local boy, his collection, including an enormous female orb-weaver spider from Brazil named Consuela. After Mike leaves, Joshua is bitten by an escaped tarantula and accidentally knocks down the spider cages. Joshua is killed by the spiders. After devouring him, the spiders grow to large proportions due to the toxins of the crickets Joshua fed them.

Chris McCormick, whose father owned the mines before he died ten years ago, stands against Wade, the mayor of Prosperity, about his proposition to sell the mine, as he believes that his father had discovered a gold vein in the mine. Chris also sparks a romance with Sam Parker, the town sheriff, and Mike's mother.

Wade holds a town meeting in the mall about whether they should sell the mines and relocate. Wade says Chris's father was delusional for thinking gold was in the mine. Mike sneaks out and finds Joshua's farm covered in webbing, and Joshua dead. He sees an enormous spider shadow in the mines and tells Chris that the spiders have grown to enormous sizes based on a giant spider leg he found at the mine entrance. Chris does not believe him.

As the entire town is connected in some way to the mines, spiders show up in many different places. Harlan Griffiths, an eccentric extraterrestrial enthusiast, is broadcasting his theory that various missing pets around town have been abducted by aliens. Ashley, Mike's older sister, breaks up with her boyfriend Bret. He and his motorcyclist friends are chased by jumping spiders. Bret, the only survivor, accidentally cuts off the telephone line and ends up stuck in the mine. While traversing the mines, he finds Consuela feeding on victims who were trapped in spider webbing.

Chris finds out that his aunt Gladys and her dog are abducted by a male orb weaver in their basement. Sam is convinced Chris and Mike are delusional but realizes they were right after witnessing a giant male orb weaver attempting to abduct Ashley and Chris. Sam kills the spider with a shotgun and tells her deputy Pete to bring all guns from the police station to the mall. Ashley, Chris, Sam, and Mike escape to Harlan's trailer, knowing it has a radio station. As Sam broadcasts the threat over the radio, a giant tarantula assaults the trailer, but they escape. The town is besieged by vicious spider hordes. Sam tells everybody to evacuate to the mall. Wade flees into the mines and locks the gate before the attack, forcing the rest to defend themselves. Harlan and Chris climb onto the roof, ascend the radio mast, and call the army, but are believed to be pranksters. Harlan jumps from the roof after the tarantula breaks open the gates, lets the spiders enter the mall, and lands in some bushes, where he meets Pete.

While the townsfolk are in the basement, Bret arrives on a forklift that brings down the locked gate. They all head through the mines to the front entrance, discovering the methane-filled tunnels. After freeing Wade, Chris looks for Gladys. He finds her and the gold vein his father discovered. They are confronted by the gigantic Consuela. Chris uses perfume to distract Consuela and escapes on Bret's motorcycle. Chris ignites the methane using Gladys's cigarette, blowing up Consuela and her spider army before the police arrive. Wade is distraught at the destruction of the mall.

Chris reopens the mine, and Harlan delivers a radio report that the town has decided to cover up the whole incident, but let Harlan continue broadcasting about it. Harlan gives a toothy smile, revealing several golden teeth.


  • David Arquette as Christopher "Chris" McCormick, the proprietor of a mine.
  • Kari Wuhrer as Samantha "Sam" Parker, the sheriff of Prosperity.
  • Scott Terra as Michael "Mike" Parker, the son of Samantha Parker.
  • Doug E. Doug as Harlan Griffith, an extraterrestrial enthusiast who owns his own radio station.
  • Scarlett Johansson as Ashley Parker, the daughter of Samantha Parker.
  • Rick Overton as Deputy Peterson "Pete" Willis
  • Leon Rippy as Wade, the Mayor of Prosperity.
  • Matt Czuchry as Bret, the boyfriend of Ashley.
  • Jay Arlen Jones as Leon
  • Eileen Ryan as Gladys, the aunt of Chris.
  • Riley Smith as Randy
  • Matt Holwick as Larry
  • Jane Edith Wilson as Emma Willis
  • Jack Moore as Amos
  • Roy Gaintner as Floyd
  • Don Champlin as Leroy
  • John Christopher Storey as Mark
  • David Earl Waterman as Norman
  • Tom Noonan as Joshua Taft (uncredited), a spider farmer.



Director Ellory Elkayem got the idea from his 1997 short film, Larger Than Life, which also handled a spider-fighting storyline.

The film was originally titled Arach Attack[2] (under which it was released in some parts of Europe and other countries around the world) but the similarity to "Iraq Attack" made the title seem inappropriate after 9/11.[citation needed] The title Eight Legged Freaks is a line that Arquette ad-libbed in the movie: "Get back, you eight-legged freaks!"[citation needed]

The film was dedicated to the memory of several people: Lewis Arquette, father of David Arquette, who died in 2001 from heart failure,[4][5] and Don Devlin and Pilar Seurat, the parents of producer Dean Devlin, who died of lung cancer in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Filming locations


Prosperity is a fictional town in Arizona, though the film was actually shot in various locations in the state.

  • The scenes inside Prosperity Mall were actually shot at Manistee Town Center, a closed mall in Glendale, Arizona. The mall was demolished a year after the shooting was completed and redeveloped; its demolition was featured in the film as a consequence of the tunnel's methane gas explosion.
  • The scenes in Aunt Gladys's house in the kitchen and Gladys' basement were filmed at the Manistee Ranch in Glendale, directly adjacent to the mall itself.
  • Some of the town scenes were shot in the old copper mining town of Superior, Arizona.
  • The gas station scene was shot in Black Canyon City, Arizona.

Spiders used in the film


The following spiders were used in the film:

Alternate credits


Alternate beginning


The alternate beginning is an extended version in which Harlan does a broadcast promoting the mall after which a worker at the mall sees Wade having the toxic waste put in the basement.

Alternate ending


In the alternate ending after the mines are blown up, the townsfolk walk down a road to get help. They meet up with Pete and Harlan who were walking through the desert. Pete trying to convince Harlan the spiders were not aliens. Afterward, Sam and Chris kiss as the scene ends.



The teaser trailer debuted in October 2001 attached to Thirteen Ghosts, Scooby-Doo and Queen of the Damned. The film was originally going to be released on March 15, but the date was moved because of the competition of Fox’s family-friendly film Ice Age.



On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 48% based on reviews from 145 critics, with an average rating of 5.44/10. The site's consensus states: "This homage to the B-movies of the '50s has a promising first half, but runs out of ideas in the second".[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 53% based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B−" on scale of A to F.[8]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 and wrote: "Has laughs, thrills, wit, and scary monsters, and is one of those goofy movies like Critters that kids itself and gets away with it."[9]

Video game


A video game adaptation titled Eight Legged Freaks: Let the Squashing Begin was released in 2002 for PC and Mac.[10]

Cancelled sequel


On January 5, 2003, the movie news website Moviehole reported that Eight Legged Freaks 2 was in development,[11] but no additional information has come forth since then.

Home media


Eight Legged Freaks was released on VHS and on DVD in both widescreen and fullscreen edition formats on October 29, 2002. Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray for the first time on July 20, 2021.


  1. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks (35mm)". Australian Classification Board. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Film: Out Takes". Daily Mirror. December 29, 2000.
  3. ^ a b "Eight Legged Freaks". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  4. ^ ""A Tear in the Ocean": The Final Days of Alexis Arquette". The Hollywood Reporter. September 13, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  5. ^ Times, MYRNA OLIVER Los Angeles (February 16, 2001). "LEWIS ARQUETTE, 65, ACTOR, MEMBER OF HOLLYWOOD FAMILY". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  6. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks". Metacritic. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  8. ^ "EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (2002) B-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 17, 2002). "Eight Legged Freaks". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks (Game)". Giant Bomb. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  11. ^ Clint (January 5, 2003). "Another Grand Idea : Eight Legged Freaks 2". Moviehole. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2018.