If you are someone like me, who has a morbid fear of spiders, than any kind of killer spider movie no matter how low budget or funny it is will make you squirm. Yes, it’s funny… I have arachnophobia yet I still subject myself to watching movies with killer spiders in it. The question that many will ask is, “why?” The answer is simple: because they are the only movies that really terrify me nowadays. Although there is a certain type of killer spider movie that really hits home and it’s a sort of film that there isn’t a lot of. When we think about killer spiders we think about mutated monsters or genetically engineered spiders but it’s the ‘natural’ spiders that freak me out; the ones that are not mutated but do just as much damage.
Specifically I am talking about Arachnophobia. You see, unlike most killer spider movies these spiders are not genetically altered or mutated or super insect. The film was made to be a serious movie, from what I heard, and it became a cult classic as well as an unintentional comedy. I find it funny that a comedy makes me cringe and squirm while a movie like Hostel makes me smile. The spiders in the film are South American; therefore they are probably more poisonous and slightly bigger than your average house spider. It mates with a field spider and creates a slew of toxic spiders. Here, the spiders are not oversized due to mutation so you would think that humans would have the upper hand, right? Also, they are not super arachnids that have the ability to coat an entire town in their webs so another advantage for humans, right? Wrong! These tiny little monsters have the element of extreme toxic venom and the element of surprise. They are sneaky and there are a lot of them so that’s why they’re frightening. Numbers out-beat size.
But what about Kingdom of the Spiders? Yes, here the spiders are ‘natural’ and not mutated by chemicals or space bacteria but they are super arachnids. This term means that they somehow managed to spin the entire town in their steel-like webbing in under a few hours. The spiders in Arachnophobia spin webs but it’s not nearly as grand as the ones in this film. However, Kingdom of the Spiders is one of those movies that made me squirm because aside from the web spinning they are small and rely on their numbers and secrecy to attack and it’s frightening. It’s more close to reality and it’s very possible for a colony of spiders to attack and kill people and I think that’s why it’s so frightening as opposed to mutated spiders. Spider attacks happen all the time, but how many of those times are the spiders mutated?
Films like Ice Spiders, Spiders, The Giant Spider Invasion, Tarantula, Arachnid and Eights were scary to me and they made me uncomfortable… but deep down inside I knew it would never happen. For arachnophobic folks like me, giant mutated spiders are still scary but the films that have them are executed as though they were b-movies or campy horror flicks. The films that have small spiders that are not mutated are executed as serious movies or in Arachnophobia’s case… tried to be a serious movie. However, with giant spiders you get great scenes that are either extremely gory or they have people getting eaten and spun into webs. Either way, it’s fairly entertaining but takes away from the squirm factor.
The bottom line is, and I reiterate it, that while mutated spiders are usually scarier because it’s bigger and it has eight legs, the small natural spiders hit closer to home because the situation is very plausible. When we see those tiny or regular sized spiders we can’t help but squirm and feel that tingle up our spine because we’ve all had that freak out experience. How many of us will encounter a giant mutant Wolf Spider? None. How many of us will encounter a swarm or even a single Brown Spider? Many of us.