Regular readers of the site may know that we’ve reviewed the first 2 entries in the Spiders series of films earlier this year. Regular readers of the site may also be wondering “Why?”, for which I have no answer other than “They were there.”
We now come to the third and, so far, final film of the franchise… if it can indeed even be called a “franchise”. Simply and confusingly once again entitled Spiders, this entry received the highest budget (reportedly around $6-$7 million) of the series. While some of this budget undoubtedly went towards securing not only a couple “higher profile” stars, most of this money assuredly went towards producing higher quality CG effects, some of which were rendered in 3D, in order to capitalize on the short-lived 3D craze of a few years back. A 3D Blu-ray of the film was released under the title Spiders 3D, as one might expect.
Spiders 3D was directed by Tibor Takács. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he was also the director of late-80’s horror favorites I, Madman and The Gate, as well as the latter film’s lackluster sequel. Now, before you get too excited, know that Takács also directed episodes of both the “Police Academy” and “The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” television series, multiple made-for-SyFy films (including one of my personal favorites, 2005’s Mansquito), a slew of Hallmark Christmas movies, and an abysmal sci-fi film from the early 80’s called 984: Prisoner of the Future…. so, expectations should probably be tempered.
As with the first film in the series, Spiders 3D begins with sections of a long-lost Soviet space station crashing back to Earth. The space station, during its operation, had been conducting highly secretive experiments on spiders for military use. The film wastes no time showing off its 3D CG effects as multiple items, including a cosmonaut’s long-decayed corpse, float past the screen. As I was not one of those that wasted money on a 3D television and/or Blu-ray player, I can not rightfully judge the quality of these effects in their intended 3D format. However, in plain ol’ 2D, these attempts at “in your face” visual effects are fairly hokey and seem a tad bit desperate, as many of the 3D films of that era did.
A piece of debris from the space station crashes into the streets of downtown New York, burying itself deep in the city’s subway system. Transit authority station supervisor Jason Cole (Patrick Muldoon – Starship Troopers, “Melrose Place”), acting quickly, stops the trains running that line and sends one of his engineers to inspect. The man is soon bitten by a spider that had survived the re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, which lays eggs in the man’s chest. Disoriented and slowly dying, the man falls onto the electrified rail, killing him and hatching some of the eggs in the process.
Making things a little more difficult for Jason, he’s also in the middle of a divorce, as well as trying to leave work in time to make it to his daughter’s birthday dinner. As his soon-to-be ex-wife, Rachel (Christa Campbell – 2001 Maniacs, Drive Angry), is with the city’s department of health, she has also been assigned to the case to ensure that there is not any biological or radioactive contaminants from the space debris. I may have found more sympathy for “Jason” if the character weren’t so damned generic, but, even then, there’s only so far you can go with Muldoon’s overall lack of charisma. Campbell, on the other hand, seems physically incapable of emoting, almost as if she’s suffering from some form of facial paralysis.
Both Jason and Rachel seem far too busy with their professional lives to be highly attentive parents, which is why their daughter (Sydney Sweeney, who has since appeared on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) spends most of her screen time with a “sitter”, even if she is becoming a teen herself.
The military arrive to “quarantine” the impact zone and surrounding area, although the Colonel in charge is well aware of what has actually landed. Meanwhile, the spiders (who have increased in size with no explanation) have annihilated a homeless settlement located in an abandoned section of the tunnels, laying even more eggs. However, the real target is the egg carrying the “Queen Spider”, which was laid in the body of the deceased engineer and is soon stolen from Rachel’s possession.
With the Colonel needing to keep the project’s existence a secret by any means necessary, a manhunt begins for our leads, with a few of their friends and co-workers murdered in the process. To be fair, the various soldiers have multiple opportunities to kill these two, but seem to have just as much difficulty with the task as they do killing the nearly indestructible space spiders!
Eventually, at just past the hour mark, the gigantic queen spider finally emerges. This large CG monstrosity, which is big enough to span the width of the city’s streets, begins a Godzilla-like path of destruction, picking off countless disposable soldiers and one rather undeveloped and unessential supporting character. However, by this point, it may just be too late in not only the film, but also the series, to provide many thrills.
Despite the increased budget and notably improved CG effects, I found Spiders 3D to be the least entertaining entry in the series by a notable margin. The most obvious fault with the film, when compared to the first 2 entries in the series, is that it takes itself far too seriously. The makers of the first two Spiders films, for the most, realized just how absurd their concept was and had fun with that fact, allowing the tone (more so for the 1st film) to frequently get as ludicrous and outlandish as it rightfully could and/or should. Spiders 3D, on the other hand, only provides a few laughs, most of which I assure you were not intended, and even fewer “chills”.
Perhaps most inexcusably, though, is that for what should be a fun piece of mindless fluff entertainment, Spiders 3D is kind of boring. While there’s a decent amount of action to be found, I can’t help but feel that I may have enjoyed the film more if I actually gave a crap about any of the characters. While the lead characters are rather poorly developed, they might be much more tolerable if portrayed by actors capable of bringing excitement to the screen. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case here, but as Takács has worked with both actors multiple times, maybe he sees something that I didn’t.
Spiders 3D is available to watch for free on YouTube. The trilogy was released to Blu-ray in 2019 by Mill Creek Entertainment, but seems to have already gone out of print and is selling for over $30 on the resale market. If you REALLY feel the need to watch this film (or any of the Spiders films, for the matter), just stick to streaming.