The movie-factory known as Roger Corman Presents is in fine form with this schlock-tastic monster movie. Fast-paced and stupid-as-hell, this is a creature feature that won't challenge you on any level. You want big bugs? You got 'em! You want meaningless plot machinations that get you from point A (giant bug is about to get me) to point B (careful, that bug is about to jump on your face!) You got that too! Camel Spiders practically pops your popcorn for you, so slap your nickel down for one admission to good old fashioned B-movie fun.
Corman has never left the realm of B-movies, but over the last few years he's been backing ever-more silly monster-combo movies anchored by leaden performances from D-listers like Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Gibson. (He should just let the SuperDinoCroctopus eat itself and get it over with.) I guess now he hopes to take a bite out of the 'Man-Eaters' series of movies, with this daft nature-gone-bad entry. Thankfully, no atomic age scientific posturing is here to get in the way of your enjoyment of watching bugs eat people's faces.
In Afghanistan, a firefight is broken up when huge camel spiders begin eating the Taliban. (Hey, the bugs are on our side!) But, lacking the wherewithal to continue with a military motif, Corman regular writer/director Jay Andrews quickly moves action to the American Southwest, (which, oddly, looks a lot like Afghanistan) where a hitchhiking camel spider starts the whole 'jumping on people's faces' thing up again with a vengeance.
C. Thomas Howell joins a cast of others to handle the serious stuff. Firstly, we need a bunch of people to get jumped on by camel spiders. Then we need a few people to try to stop it. For our victims we get - drum-roll, please - a group of Young Adults Out To Party In The Wilderness. I guess the other clichés were all booked-up. Small-town sheriff Howell, lonesome and reluctant, sets out to help them. But wouldn't you know it, some Evil Developers are also on the scene, because it wouldn't be a cheap movie without the conflict that Evil Developers bring, as they hope a little camel spider feeding frenzy will enable them to buy a bunch of land on the cheap.
So, packing a pretty full load of boilerplate clichés, does Camel Spiders satisfy like bloodthirsty camel spiders should? If you check your brain at the door, absolutely! It feels like a Roger Corman movie, with its half-heart in the right place. Characters are paper thin, as is the plot - the movie finally devolves into a siege scenario, the tiredest horror cliché in the book - but Andrews checks any cynicism at the door, leaving us with a picture, cast, and crew that gets it done while having fun. The hysterical hotties often appear to fight off laughter while trying to scream, and deliver lines with a passion somewhere between dinner theater and reading from a cereal box. Understand that such readings work perfectly, and you'll enjoy this movie.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! The only reason you want to watch Camel Spiders is for spider attacks. Buddy, those spiders (not really spiders) pretty much jump on everybody's face at all times. They try to rip the face, and usually crawl into the mouth. Sure, these weightless CGI critters don't exactly look real, but they're ugly, fast, and they jump on your face. Plus, the victims all scream like monkeys when the spiders jump on their face. You won't gag on too much gore, though, while people scream like monkeys with spiders on their face, and the CGI blood flows. I see nothing wrong here!
Anchor Bay's 1.78:1 widescreen presentation is on the south side of DVD quality. The picture is just a little bit sloppy, with some DNR wobble here and there, only average levels of detail and crispness, and digital grit occasionally imparting a harsh feel. Colors are fairly natural and nicely saturated, while black levels are reasonably deep. It's a 'rental quality' picture, if you catch my drift.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio is of similar quality to the picture. A healthy bit of sound design will keep you engaged with creepy-crawly placement, though dynamic range is a bit in the middle of the road. Dialog is generally clear and understandable, and the mix between dialog, sound effects and music is decent.
English SDH Subtitles and Spanish Subtitles are pretty much it as far as extras are concerned. (There are probably some Trailers around, too ...)
A sub-par DVD package balancing not-great AV quality with zero extras doesn't hamper the entertainment value delivered by Camel Spiders. If you like Roger Corman's classic productions you should enjoy this dumb-as-a-stump creature feature. The plot consists of a few clichés strung together, and the actors seem addled, but everyone seems to be having cheap fun as CGI spiders jump on their face and they scream like monkeys. That's all you need to know. Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com