There are certain got to archetypes that have been infused inexorably into horror. This encompasses every form it is manifested from literature to movies. One of the primary means of generating the sense of horror relies heavily on the manipulation of the fears inherent in the psychological recesses of the audience. Many scholarly dissertations have been published expounding upon the etiology and clinical manifestation of phobias. In the Parthenon of fears some are rather esoteric such as clowns (coulrophobia ) or fear of the color yellow (xanthophobia). While clinically fascinating they are sufficiently rare to provide a reasonable basis of a horror film. For that you need something that a sufficient portion of the population can understand. High up on that list is arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. Those eight legged creatures look different than the animals we usually encounter with more legs and eyes than typical. They are creepy and crawly, to fall back on an old phrase and frequently used to embody fear and danger in everything from comedy to action flicks. Even the first ‘Indiana Jones’ movie used this time honored trope to contrast the heroic archeologist’s disinterest in spiders with a fear of snakes. The film under consideration here, ‘Spider 3D’ is directly on point with this theme. Actually the movie can be found listed without the 3D suffix but as seen in the theater and in this high definition release the 3D aspect is a significant part of the draw this film might have with the target audience of horror aficionados. The movie is admittedly what is commonly referred to as a ‘B’ flick reminiscent of the grindhouse movies that enthralled us as teenagers. Having cut my cinephile teeth on movies like this I do confess to having a soft spot for them, a guilty pleasure as it were.
The basis of the flick falls back on a couple of associative fears that have persisted for quite a while. A portion of the Soviet space station falls to earth careening into a subway tunnel in New York City. The cold war fear of the Russians has for the most part been left in our socio-political rear view mirror but as a plot device of a horror movie it can still be considered viable. The subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and tracks that constitutes the New York City subway is replete with its own elaborate mythology, mysteries and fears. Lying a few meters beneath the streets of one of the busiest centers of human activity lays a maze supposedly inhabited by cast off people and bizarre mutated creatures. Within the context defined by this movie the section of the Soviet Space station results in a sizable number of highly venomous arachnids begin to inundate the desolate environment. That is, of course, until a NYC transit Authority police office goes down to investigate. In the way things happen in movies like this, independent of the laws of physics, a queen spider with eggs at the ready, survives reentry and the newly hatched younglings are readily to explore the tunnels.
A CDC supervisor, Jason (Patrick Muldoon), descends into the tunnels to discover one of the officers dead, apparently from spider bites. He calls in the mandatory evacuation of the area which imitates the main focus of the action. This film is one of the continuing series of low budget movies primarily created for the SyFy channel to fill the programming wasteland of Saturday night. The playbook fir these films borrow heavily from the disaster movie genre. Keeping with this, Jason is also the devoted father. His estranged wife, Rachel, is portrayed by low budget regular, Christa Campbell. Through the course of several plot contrivances they have to put their marital strife aside long enough to come to rescue their daughter, Emily (Sydney Sweeney), from the mandibles of the huge mother of all spiders. Even though there is plenty of victims readily available for a meal the spider seem to focus on the girl. By this point you should have abandoned any hope of rational points of reference as the story unfolds. There are a multitude of spiders at this point permitting the use of two different horror movie standards; the unstoppable huge monster and the overwhelming horde. Kind of like two monster flicks for the price of one.
The flick is spiced with a demented Russian scientist to permit a means to instigate the infestation. Simultaneously it provided for, the use of super strong spider webs with the tensile strength of steel cable. There are scenes that provide an overly familiar for anyone who has seen more than a few ‘bug hunt’ films. The two levels constructed here are now standard; a desperate rush to defeat the menacing invaders and the personalized traumatic circumstances formed by the dysfunctional family whose problems are trivialized by the big picture creatures. This is classic since it does offer the audience something they can readily relate to, critical in order to better sell the outlandish premise the movie relies on. By giving the audience something tangible to hold on to in the face of a fanciful premise it makes it easier to accept. This is a plot device that was fundamental to the classic creature features that proliferated in the fifties and sixties.
As mentioned above the movie is presented in 3D. It is used primarily as a gimmick but in this case a rather effective one in light of the target demographic of diehard fans of direct to video creature features, one that works well enough. The director, Tibor Takács, is fairly well known among devotees that have the tendency to read the credits of the films they watch. His list of films encompass a number of SyFy ‘Saturday Night Specials’ including ‘Ice Spiders’ and ‘NYC: Tornado Terror’, all on the list of guilty pleasures for a lot of fans. The thing is there is a place for movies like this, kind of the fast food equivalent of the cinematic arts. Occasionally it is fun to kick back with some friends, some beer and pizza to just relish an old fashion creature feature. So kick back, forget reality, put on the 3D glasses and enjoy.