Arachnophobia (1990)

(On TV, May 2017) Twenty-seven years later, I still remember the ads for Arachnophobia and especially it’s “thrill-omedy” neologism, coined at a time when hybridizing horror and comedy was still a daring concept. We’re far more familiar with the form nowadays, and that does play a part in appreciating the movie today: While some of the film’s methods seem a bit obvious now, the general concept is more easily accepted and the substance may seem more accessible now than in 1990. Arachnophobia, from its title, makes no pretension about what it means to be: a scare-ride for people who are even slightly disturbed by spiders. As the volunteer (and designated) spider-catcher in my household, I’m not really the prime audience for the movie … but I can recognize that it makes a decent effort to be entertaining. While the first half-hour is too long, the rest of Arachnophobia works well as a B-grade comic thriller. Jeff Daniels is suitably sympathetic as a doctor who gets far more trouble than he expected in moving his family from the city to the countryside, while John Goodman is remarkable as a slightly disturbing and incompetent exterminator. Arachnophobia is not a great movie, but it doesn’t have to be. See it with Eight-Legged Freaks for a good spider-movie double feature.

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