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Earth vs. The Spider
Stan Winston Studios, The Arkoffs and Cinemax partnered last fall for five FX-heavy remakes of the American International Pictures classics Teenage Caveman, The Day the World Ended, How to Make a Monster, She Creature and Earth vs. the Spider (2001, 90 minutes). Dubbed "Creature Features," these laytex lensings are now finding their way onto DVDs of varied stature. For instance, the ambitious She Creature, easily the better of the series, rates a commentary by Mr. Winston. While, say, THIS particular effort, um, doesn't.
The movie: A geekazoid rent-a-cop obsessed with the Arachnid Avenger's comic-book exploits has his long-dormant libido kick started when a comely young honey moves in next door. But the wooing must wait when Peter Parker (Devon Gummersall) completely wusses out in the line of duty and doesn't save his father-figure during a guns-blazing raid on the coyly named Biochemco. Our hero then inexplicably decides to juice himself up with some experimental tarantula slime that soon begins to transmutate him into an amazing spider man who can shoot webs out of various parts of his anatomy. While he manages to play hero to his crush (Amelia Heinle) when Mary Jane is attacked by the neighborhood's designated serial killer, poor Pete finds it difficult to close the deal for wondering when a nifty new arachnid appendage may sprout. Dan Aykroyd is also plugged in for no good reason as a washed-up police detective whose wife (Theresa Russell) prefers pawing OTHER cops to her hubby. In truth, this sucker's all about the creature FX, which are gruesome indeed, but maddeningly, they don't really DO much of anything with the dern critter. CineSchlockers who paid no mind to my warnings and watched Lured Innocence anyway will remember Mr. Gummersall from his similar role as a horndog nebbish who finds himself in competition with Dennis Hopper for the nocturnal affections of a backwoods broad.
Notables: No breasts. 12 corpses. Wall crawling. Web slinging. Hypodermic closeup. Multiple spazz outs. Consumption of mass quantities. "Lurking in the bushes" cam.
Quotables: Fatherly Nick asks the age-old question, "What is it with you and those comic books?! My kid used to read that crap, but he was 10!"
Time codes: First appearance of an actual spider (11:25). The fatal mistake (18:35). An ode to the past (46:40). Some orthodontist could make a killing off this guy (58:45).
Audio/Video: Viewers may choose between fullframe and widescreen (1.85:1). Curiously, the letterboxed framings seem a bit awkward in spots such as the title sequence, which could possibly be attributed to the flick's made-for-TV pedigree.
Extras: Not much beyond some flashy, comic-book style menus and a skimpy featurette (2 mins). "Creature Features" promo reel and trailers for Fright Night, Thir13en Ghosts, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend.
Final thought: Slow to get moving and uneven in execution, yet there's enough Fly-esque moments to temporarily snare one's attention. Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.