If you follow this site regularly, you may remember that I reviewed the 2000 SyFy Channel flick Spiders earlier this year. If you don’t follow this site regularly? Well, you still know since I just mentioned it in the first sentence. In case you did not read the review, here’s a link to help you get caught up. That said, having seen the 1st film in the Spiders trilogy of films is really not essential to enjoying or understanding 2001’s Spiders 2: Breeding Ground. https://horrorandsons.com/2020/01/27/spiders-2000-movie-review
While the first Spiders film starred a then-unknown Lana Parilla (of TV’s “Once Upon a Time” fame), the sequel stars actress Stephanie Niznik. Niznik made her film debut baring it all in 1994’s Exit to Eden, but would later become a recurring character on Dick Van Dyke’s “Diagnosis: Murder“, before landing her biggest role on the WB series “Everwood“. Star Trek fans may also remember Niznik as both Starfleet officer Kell Perim in 1998’s Insurrection and later as “The Wraith” in the “Rogue Planet” episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise” Sadly, Niznik passed away in 2019 at the age of 52.
The film opens to find a group of people partying aboard a yacht adrift on the high seas. A motorboat filled with masked men pulls alongside and boards the ship, brutally beating and then abducting most of the passengers, while killing a few of the others. A grenade is left behind to help cover up any evidence.
The following morning, a married couple sailing aboard their own small yacht come across the burned remains of the boat. As they inspect the ship, finding a couple charred corpses, a huge storm suddenly rolls in. The wife, Alex (Niznik), is knocked overboard. Her husband, Jason (played by actor Greg Cromer) dives in after her, leaving his own yacht to sink in the increasingly treacherous storm surge. They float, fighting for their lives, before being miraculously saved by a passing freighter.
Upon being rescued, the ship’s captain (Daniel Quinn – Scanner Cop, Wild at Heart) takes the couple to see the ship’s doctor, played by Richard Moll of “Night Court” and House (1985) fame. As Jason has suffered a cut during the ordeal, the doctor injects him with what he says is an antibiotic, in order to help prevent infection.
Jason’s health begins to deteriorate, which leads to even more injections from the good doctor. Jason suspects that the doctor is actually injecting him with something else that is actually making his condition worse. Alex refuses to believe such claims, primarily due to the polite nature of the ship’s crew, in particular the ship’s “oh-so-nice” captain. Convinced that things are not as they seem, Jason begins snooping around, which soon leads to discoveries that only increase his suspicions, as well as draw the attention of the captain and crew.
What Jason will soon discover is that his body is now being prepared for use as a “womb” in which a large, mutated spider will lays its eggs. It seems the doctor hopes to isolate the gene in spiders that make them immune to the diseases that plague mankind. The fact that he chose to use dangerous mutant spiders of enlarged size and not just your common garden-variety spider seems highly illogical, but he is a “mad scientist”, after all. Besides, it would not have made for quite as entertaining of a movie experience, now would it?
It’s not until Jason’s health declines to near critical condition that Alex begins to suspect that her husband may actually be on to something. Even then, she leaves his fate in the doctor’s hands once again, while she joins the captain in his quarters for a private dinner. She’ll quickly learn that he also has his own deceitful scheme at play, one that involves keeping her for himself.
The film climaxes with Alex’s attempt to save her husband. This sees the previously somewhat-timid woman make a spontaneous transformation into a butt-kicking badass, ala “Ripley” in Alien or Patricia Tallman’s version of “Barbara” in Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. Sure, it’s a little cheesy and more than a little cliched, but…. Well, I guess there isn’t really a “but” here.
In many ways, Spiders 2 is a vast improvement over the first Spiders film. In others, it’s a small step backwards. Overall, the CG effects still suck, and in some instances may actually be worse than the already laughable effects found in the first film. Spiders 2 may also move at a better pace than the original film, but pacing was never a major complaint.
While I undoubtedly found Spiders 2 to be much more competently made and overall more entertaining, the first Spiders film easily has bigger moments. While the 1st film featured frenetic, yet undeniably goofy action sequences in its final act and quite a few gory death scenes, Spiders 2 feels comparatively tame and anemic. Not to get too spoilerific, but when your “big baddies” are killed off in the exact same fashion as “Goon #1”, you’ve failed in your job! Come to think of it, even Goon #1’s death seemed like a bigger deal.
Performances are respectable enough for B-grade (Z-grade?) fare such as this, with Moll surprisingly giving the weakest performance. This isn’t completely his fault as he’s not really given all that much to do or say in the first half. That said, when he is finally given more screen time in the film’s final act, the performance tends to get a little hammy and overdone.
Spiders 2: Breeding Ground was directed by Sam Firstenberg, who directed the first two American Ninja films. He also directed Ninja III: The Domination and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, which really should serve as an indication of the “high-brow” level of movie making one should expect from Spiders 2.
Ultimately, much like the first film, Spiders 2 is mindless fluff. It aims to do nothing more than to provide dumb fun that you can sit back and turn your brain off to for 90 minutes. In those regards, it generally succeeds, albeit not with flying colors. Recommended for those looking for some dumb fun. All others may want to pass this one by, but you probably knew that by now.
The Spiders trilogy was released to blu-ray by Echo Bridge in March 2019. Here’s a link to purchase it on Amazon, but do know that the price has actually increased since it was released. https://amzn.to/39JNRHw
Spiders 2: Breeding Grounds (as well as the other 2 films in the series) is also available free-to-watch for Amazon Prime Video subscribers. Link: https://amzn.to/2UKBoyT
WARNING: THE TRAILER CONTAINS SPOILERS