All the reasons ‘Arachnophobia’ is a kitsch horror gem
Modern master of horror James Wan is producing a remake of Frank Marshall’s beloved 90s horror-comedy Arachnophobia – and we’re not sure how we feel about it. Though we trust Wan’s eye for a great genre film – from his work in movies like Saw, The Conjuring, and the delirious insanity of Fast & Furious 7 – we’re also of the opinion Arachnophobia is absolutely perfect just the way it is.
The movie gave us all nightmares as children but has given us countless joy over the years with its unabashedly kitsch and campy tale of rampant killer spiders. Here are all the reasons why Arachnophobia is still a kitsch horror gem that can’t be improved upon.
11. Delbert McClintock is a comedic character who is tough to top
John Goodman’s (The Big Lebowski) exterminator is one of the best comedy side characters of all time. He’s a dude we’re all familiar with – a man who can talk big and puff out his chest but is ultimately useless in every regard.
He’s also the sort of man who seems to celebrate victory from exuding power over his tiny arachnid enemies and in squelching those little bastards under his boot. Essentially, he’s a small man in a big frame and it’s played perfectly for some satisfying laughs.
10. The film went to ludicrous extremes to shoot and protect the spiders
Those little dudes were legit thespians and were treated as such on set. Though some dummy arachnids were used in certain scenes – like the one in which Delbert sprays one with insecticide – for the most part the rest of them were real and were reportedly herded around set by use of temperature.
In the scene in which Delbert squishes a spider under his foot, Goodman wore special boots with a hollowed out sole, telling Entertainment Weekly, “(The spider) would just curl up inside and wait for the next take. I swear, (Steven Kutcher) was more concerned with the spiders than with us.”
9. Wranglers would also have to take extreme measures to direct the spiders
Apparently basic temperature cues simply weren’t enough for these eight-legged divas to be in the right place at the right time for shots and so wranglers would apparently sometimes chase the spiders with hair dryers to get them to move.
8. The spiders basically had to audition for their roles
In proof that the superstar arachnids of the movie were legit talents, a number of different species of spider were “auditioned” for the film by being put through a series of tests. Species including tarantulas, huntsman spiders, and wolf spiders were evaluated for their speed, climbing ability, and reaction to heat and cold.
7. One of the spiders underwent a makeover to become “Big Bob”
Apparently the arachnid who depicted Big Bob wasn’t deemed to be scary enough by the production team and they decided they wanted “to give him a greater bulk”. Their solution? They added a prosthetic abdomen to him and painted purple stripes on his back.
6. It was marketed as a “thrill-omedy” – whatever the f*** that means
As a genre-mashing work of kitsch genius, marketing for the movie was muddled with promotional efforts that were a little confused as to whether to push a horror, comedy, or a family-friendly thriller to audiences.
At some point we can only imagine some pleased as punch junior marketing executive was given several pats on the back for coining the term “thrill-omedy” as a solution to this problem. As you’ve likely figured out, the term hasn’t exactly permeated popular culture since and it’s probably for the best.
5. It features some really stupendous 90s special effects
The victorious moment Dr. Jennings (Jeff Daniels) sets the spider on fire and blasts it with a nail gun features a gloriously 90s animatronic spider (made by Mythbusters’s Jamie Hyneman!) and some equally kitsch CG graphics.
4. The wine cellar scene offers one of the campiest creature battles ever
Not only is Ross (Daniels) super afraid of spiders, but all he has at his disposal to defeat them is his precious wine collection – most notably, a pricey bottle of Chateau Margaux that he ruefully agonizes over using to save himself.
3. The final scene took a lot of work
We’re talking two weeks’ worth of 13-hour days, roaring fires, and many smashed bottles of wine. Which was made all the more difficult for Daniels who spent two days pinned under a 250-pound wine rack while launching bottles of wine at Big Bob. If you rewatch the scene you’ll see that the wine bottles always miss the spider by a fair few feet.
2. It gave 90s kids everywhere nightmares for days
Particularly the scene in which Irv & Blaire are killed by the spiders after they sneak into the popcorn they’re eating – and an arachnid struts out of poor dead Irv’s nose afterwards.
1. It also made 90s kids insanely afraid of their own homes
The end scene in which the spiders nest and infest the house of Dr. Jennings made every kid who saw it realize the full potential spiders have for taking over an entire house. They spew out of the sink drain, scuttle under doors, spread across walls, and hang down from the ceiling – they’re deadly, stealthy, and unstoppable! We’ve been distrustful of spiders ever since.