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STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS A SPIDER JAWS 'ARACHNOPHOBIA'

What a doll this spider is in ARACHNOPHOBIA Year: 1990
Director Frank Marshall, a Steven Spielberg protégé, teams up with his mentor for this spider version of JAWS. But the first ten minutes provides a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (that Marshall co-produced) déjà vu as renowned arachnid expert Julian Sands ventures into South America to discover a new form of creepy-crawlers...

Along for the ride is whiny and reluctant photographer Mark L. Taylor, who’s so nervous and timid you know he’ll buy the farm. Not only that but one of the formidable spiders, that can paralyze and kill victims in one bite, hitches his coffin ride to a small town back in America, where Jeff Daniels and family have just moved in: Daniels a big city doctor with a fear of spiders (like Roy Schieder’s Chief Brody hated the water), and since the local doctor won’t retire, Daniels has only a few patients. And everyone he diagnoses, dies – a mystery to everyone but the audience, and providing a Noir like Wrong Man vibe, at least for a little while, and these are probably the film's best sequences, providing an infectious mystery vibe for the characters that the audience is in on.

Cori Wellins in Arachnophobia
Director Frank Marshall uses real life spiders as the camera glides in the Spielberg fashion, so we feel death is around every corner and those creepers are placed perfectly and do exactly what they should, like trained dogs: a far cry from contrived CGI if the film were made today and more old-school, like the eco-horror FROGS or, more befitting, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS. And as there's a body count horror aspect, being Amblin, not Corman, much of the spooks are nail-biting close calls: in that, JAWS also had that implied and suspenseful Alfred Hitchcock quality.

Meanwhile, John Goodman’s goofy exterminator tries too hard for laughs, providing a silly comic relief version of Robert Shaw where it’s not entirely necessary as the movie has a lightweight dark comedy vibe despite hin, like GREMLINS, but can be serious – the spiders sure wreak havoc. And the most fearless character is Daniel's perfect wife, played by natural beauty Harley Jane Kozak, than any of the scientists or coroners. And for great measure, there's an older-teenage girl... played by Cori Wellins (daughter of high school coach Peter Jason)... providing homage to the PSYCHO shower sequence.

Peter Jason and Cori Wellins in Arachnophobia SCORE: ****
Leading a finale bout/standoff between Daniels, who faces his fear in droves within a wine seller: after Julian Sands returns with a few clunky professionals that don't live up to their expertise...

Daniels and the ensemble, also including a young spider expert ala Richard Dreyfuss in THE FLAMINGO KID actor Brian McNamara; Henry Jones as the human antagonist old country doctor; the more antagonistic but mostly goofy jerk cop Stuart Pankin; Roy Brocksmith as a gossiping coroner; and Mary Carver as the sweetest old lady around, deliver pure suspense as the TERMS OF ENDEARMENT Oscar nominated actor, now best known for being the DUMB of DUMBER, balances naiveté, humor, and intensity – fitting perfectly within this tour de force of creature features that, although borrowing from many other films, has it’s own creepy pulse throughout, and deserves more of a following: hope this writeup helps.
Jeff Daniels and Harley Jane Kozak in ARACHNOPHOBIA
Harley Jane Kozak as the perfect wife in ARACHNOPHOBIA
Cori Wellins goes old school Janet Leigh in Arachnophobia
Mark L. Taylor and Julian Sands in Arachnophobia
Brian McNamara in ARACHNOPHOBIA
Arachnophobia opening credits
Marlene Katz and proof of putting real spiders to great use in Arachnophobia
Going back to the past w/ archived Footage while the family watches Family Ties in Arachnophobia
Cori Wellins in the PSYCHO homage in Arachnophobia
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