Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Arachnophobia (1990)
PG

While the sharks tried to recover from their poor PR in "Jaws", it was the turn of the spiders to get an image mauling at the hands of Steven Spielberg who produced "Arachnophobia". Directing duties go to Frank Marshall who makes a brilliant debut, effectively weaving together thrills and humour in equal measure.

After an establishing jungle scene where our nasty spider gains transport to the US, we move to hicksville for the main action. It's the type of small town setting that just screams doom in an "Amityville" -type manner. Naturally principal stars Jeff Daniels as the new local doctor and wife Harley Jane Kozack suspect nothing. Predictably they are only interested in settling down despite any amount of warnings that the audience might care to throw their way.

There are many time-honoured unwritten rules of the creature genre. And while Frank Marshall ensures that our characters have easy access to things like a cellar, creepy barn and more, he manages to create a constant stream of shocks without resorting to gore. A frequent tactic is to have the assorted townsfolk remove protruding limbs out of harms way just as a spider is about to attack.

It's all very reminiscent of Joe Dante's "Gremlins", as a small town becomes victim to a fast-breeding terror. The spiders do have an added edge though with frequent use of POV shots a la "Jaws" giving them a particularly menacing feel. Added to that, the reluctant hero Jeff Daniels is nearly crippled with arachnophobia, so guaranteeing an edge-of-the-seat climax as he sets out to destroy the queen along with her bulging and somewhat icky nest.

End Credits

Director: Frank Marshall

Writer: Don Jakoby, Wesley Strick

Stars: Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozack, John Goodman, Julian Sands, Stuart Pankin, Brian McNamara

Genre: Horror

Length: 109 minutes

Cinema: 1990

DVD: 22 January 2001

VHS: 2 August 1999

Country: USA

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