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 9, 2002 (2002-08-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
110 minutes
  • United States
  • Germany
  • Australia
Budget$30 million[2][3]
Box office$45 million[3]

Eight Legged Freaks (originally titled Arach Attack,[2] under which it was released in some parts of Europe and other countries around the world) is a 2002 monster comedy action film directed by Ellory Elkayem and starring David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra, and Scarlett Johansson.[4] The plot follows a colony of spiders that is exposed to toxic waste, causing them to mutate into gigantic, monstrous creatures and attack a small American mining town.


On a highway outside of the quiet mining town of Prosperity, Arizona, a truck driver carrying a load of chemicals swerves to avoid a rabbit, causing a barrel of toxic waste to land in a reservoir. One week later, An exotic spider farmer named Joshua Taft shows Michael "Mike" Parker, a local boy, his collection, including an enormous female Orb Weaver from Brazil named Consuela. After Mike leaves, Joshua is bitten by an escaped tarantula and accidentally knocks down the spider cages. He, along with his pet parrot, is killed by the spiders and, after devouring him, the spiders grow to even larger proportions by the toxins of the crickets Joshua feeds them.

Another week later, Christopher "Chris" McCormick, whose father owned the mines before he died ten years ago, shows up and stands against Wade's proposition. Chris also sparks a romance with Sam. Meanwhile, Wade, the Mayor of Prosperity, is holding a town meeting in the mall about whether they should sell the mines and relocate. Mike sneaks out on foot and finds Joshua and the spiders missing, the farm covered in webbing, and the dead body of Joshua. Although 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 doesn't believe him.

Seeing 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 extraterrestrials. Ashley, Sam's daughter, breaks up with her boyfriend Bret, before he and his motorcyclist friends are chased by jumping spiders, with him being the only survivor, accidentally cutting off the telephone line and being stuck in the mine. 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. However, they were right all along when Sam witnesses a giant male orb-weaver attempting to abduct Ashley and Chris. Sam kills the spider with a shotgun and saves them both before contacting Pete to tells him to bring all guns in the police station's possession, later on escaped to Harlan's trailer, knowing he has a radio station that he operates from within his trailer.

As Sam broadcasts the threat over the radio, a giant tarantula, the "tank" of the horde, assaults his trailer but they manage to escape. As the town is besieged by vicious spider hordes, many people are eaten, Sam tells everybody to evacuate to the mall and barricade themselves, while Wade flees into the mines and locks the gate before the attack, then defend themselves from the spiders. Harlan and Chris climb onto the roof and ascend the radio mast and try to get a signal to call the army as they are being attacked by the spiders, but are believed to be pranksters. Harlan jumps from the roof, after the tarantula breaks open the gates and lets the spiders enter the mall, and lands in some bushes, where he meets up with Pete.

While the townsfolk are in the basement, Bret arrives on a forklift that brings down the locked gate, and they all head to through the mines straight to the front entrance, discovering the methane-filled tunnels. After losing Norman and freeing Wade, Chris goes to look for his Aunt Gladys in the mines and finds her and the gold his father was searching for, but is confronted by the gigantic Consuela. Using perfume to distract the spider and escaping on Bret's motorcycle, Chris then blows up the spiders and the mines utilizing Gladys's smoking addiction and the high concentrations of methane gas, blowing up the mall benathen the ground before the police arrived.

As the story ends, Harlan concludes his radio report that the town has decided to cover up the whole incident, but have let Harlan continue broadcasting the incident, and Chris reopened the mine, informing that to be another story by giving a toothy smile, revealing several golden teeth.



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 so near the start of the Iraq War.[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,[5][6] 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 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 in 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
Alternate credits
  • 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.
  • 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".[7] On Metacritic the film has a score of 53% based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B-" on scale of A to F.[9]

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."[10]

Video game[edit]

A video game adaptation titled Eight Legged Freaks: Let the Squashing Begin was also released in 2002 for PC and Mac and could be downloaded from the official website, which is no longer active.[11]

Cancelled sequel[edit]

On January 5, 2003, the movie news website Moviehole reported that Eight Legged Freaks 2 was in development, but no additional information has come forth since then.[12]

Home Media[edit]

Eight Legged Freaks was released on VHS and on DVD in both widescreen and fullscreen edition formats in October 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. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Eight Legged Freaks". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  4. ^ Eight Legged Freaks, retrieved December 9, 2019
  5. ^ ""A Tear in the Ocean": The Final Days of Alexis Arquette". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  6. ^ Times, MYRNA OLIVER Los Angeles. "LEWIS ARQUETTE, 65, ACTOR, MEMBER OF HOLLYWOOD FAMILY". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  7. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  8. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks". Metacritic. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (2002) B-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 17, 2002). "Eight Legged Freaks". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ "Eight Legged Freaks (Game)". Giant Bomb. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Clint (January 5, 2003). "Another Grand Idea : Eight Legged Freaks 2". Moviehole. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2018.

External links[edit]