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Feature: Eight Legged Freaks

Horrible Hairy Spiders

Creepy crawly, and that's not a toy truck!!!!

What do you call a movie that pays homage to 1950s creature features, and mixes it with state-of-the-art special effects. . . ?
Eight Legged Freaks

Who better to tangle with exotic spiders that have digested toxic waste and grown into giant arachnids than Kari Wuhrer, who battled a huge snake in Anaconda.

“I like giant creatures,” the actress laughs. “But I do have a healthy, primal Human fear of spiders. No phobia or anything. If I ran into a tarantula in the wild, I’m going to run the other way. But in a controlled environment with the wrangler, it’s a piece of cake. But I had to learn about what the different spiders do. There’s the trap door spider, who pops up from the ground and snatches its prey; there’s the female orb weaver, who shoots and spins her webs, and there’s the jumping spider, which I think is the coolest of all. It’s a really strong creature; it’s tiny, but it can jump 25 feet. So imagine when it becomes the size of an Astro Minivan. I thought about that, and that’s kind of scary and freaky.”

In Eight Legged Freaks, Sheriff Parker, along with mining engineer Chris McCormick (David Arquette) must mobilize an eclectic group of townspeople into battling the man-eating (and animal-eating) beasts. When Arquette first became aware of the project, he actively campaigned for the leading role. “I knew Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were involved, and I’ve wanted to work with Dean ever since I met him on StarGate. The role is sort of a heroic action character, which I don’t typically get to play. With Rick Overton and Doug E Doug in the film, who could carry the humor, it allowed me to be slightly subtler. Then I read the script and I got really thrilled by it. I called up every connection I had at Warner Brothers. I was virtually begging for it. I said, ‘You didn’t let me try out for Scooby-Doo, so you’re going to have to let me do this.’”

A fan of B-movies, the actor admits. “I purposely didn’t watch any of my [favorite creature features] before I did this, because I wanted to approach it from a realistic point of view, and just play the story for what it was and let the humor come out of the elements of it. I didn’t want to play the joke all the time. But one updated version of a B-movie like this that was fantastic was The Thing with Kurt Russell.”

Wuhrer recalls that as a child she “loved Them. I remember it was really scary. But now, as an adult, I can see the campy quality to it and the cheesy special effects. What always scared me as a kid were psychological thrillers. I remember seeing Michael Caine in Dressed to Kill. When he’s got the wig on and the smeared make-up, and he turns around and says, ‘I’m Jennifer,’ it freaked me out; I couldn’t sleep for a week. I was like, ‘I’m sticking with giant moths.’”

by Judy Sloane

Get the full feature, if you dare, in
Xposé #70

Image © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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Xposé #70
August 2002
ships from Jul 18 2002
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