Thursday, March 6, 2014

Schlockbusted #10: "Big Ass Spider" Review

Last year, I watched and reviewed a low budget straight to VOD movie called Spiders. Its currently on Netflix streaming as of this writing and if you like giant monster movies, I'd recommend giving it a shot, at least as long as it stays available for free. Its simple, no frills action with very little self referential satire or meta winking at the camera silliness; just a good old fashion big bug flick. A few months later, another, more hyped movie was released called Big Ass Spider, which as the title suggests has a similar set up, but with more of an inclination to make fun of itself. It certainly does that, but as is too often the case, the parody is at the expense of the genre and those who appreciate it rather than in tribute to them, and even as starkly average as Spiders was, there's no contest as to which is the superior film.

Big Ass Spider follows Greg Grunberg, the psychic police officer from Heroes, as a goofy exterminator trying desperately to convince you that he's supposed to be the son of John Goodman's character from Arachnophobia. He quips and bumbles around, affecting a sort of clumsy Vince Vaughn sort of lame coolness (or cool lameness, whichever you prefer), and for no other reason than because the movie wants us to like him, he soon becomes mankind's only hope to stop a rampaging giant spider from destroying the city, which may have been named but might as well be non-descript. We only get one spider oddly enough, gradually growing from about the size of a house cat to the size of a house boat over the course of the film, and in contrast to Spiders' many well crafted action sequences, we really only get about two worthwhile encounters with the titular big assed thing when all is said and done.

The intended draw of the film appears to have been the comedy, but it almost feels like this was an afterthought, emphasized through editing only after it was determined that they couldn't pull off a more straight laced, action-packed, or visually engaging movie. Grunberg seems to be improvising most of his material and so much of it hinges on his limited charm, and the next most important character is apparently meant to be funny because he's Mexican and has a thick accent, all while great deadpan comic actor Ray Wise twiddles his thumbs in the background. To the extent that it lazily tries to parody B movies, it doesn't feel like its coming from a place of love for its target, as much as a desire to pick at what is perceived to be low hanging fruit, to show those cheesy SyFy Asylum punks how its done. Its not a movie for people who can appreciate B movies even with their flaws, but rather for the people who like the idea of taking B movies down a peg, while never actually taking the time to watch them as anything other than MST3K style riff fodder.

It fails miserably even at that, for the record, never quite gelling either as a bad movie or a commentary on bad movies. It just sort of sits there, or at least a majority of the jokes do, and in the absence of even decent humor, the special effects laden giant spider action is so half assed that I question why someone with so little passion for this sort of thing went out of there way to work in this genre. If this had been an Asylum movie, I would understand it and just dismiss it as one of their less interesting efforts, and while the budget was probably a little bigger than the Asylum can usually muster, all that extra money isn't used to make it any better. One of the worst movies I've ever reviewed was a Syfy original giant spider movie called Arachnoquake, but as bad as it was, at least it didn't insult me for liking what it failed to do. Big Ass Spider is the kind of movie that people who hate B movies might enjoy, but I love B movies, and this movie apparently hates me for that.
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