Movie Review – Big Ass Spider! (2013)

2013’s Big Ass Spider!, a comedy sci-fi with horror-gore elements, is a campy B-movie creature feature that’s a cut above the usual offerings like The Asylum’s Sharknado, which was released the same year. Director Mike Mendez adds a cinematic weight that those other films can’t match, making the movie ultimately better than its simple plotting requires.

The story follows Alex, an exterminator played by Greg Grunberg who teams up with a security guard named Jose, played by Lombardo Boyar, to stop an alien-spider hybrid which is growing exponentially, killing people and wreaking havoc across Los Angeles. There is great comedic chemistry between Grunberg and Boyar and their banter is often hilarious, particularly with regard to Boyar who steals most of the scenes he’s in. At times the character of Jose threatens to devolve into an overly simple stereotype but thankfully his proactive good nature saves him from coming too close to a racist caricature.

The CGI in the film is serviceable, though sometimes shoddy, which is to be expected from movie of this type that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and generally serves to add to the fun campiness. Nevertheless, the animators are able to infuse a bit of much appreciated personality into the spider and give it an intimidating creature design. The practical effects are also notable, particularly an amazing face-melt that is a terrific update on what we saw in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Big Ass Spider! pays homage to the rampaging creature features which came before, including the one that started it all, King Kong (1933). Likewise, the movie is self-aware of its B-movie roots, featuring a cameo by the king of Z-movies himself, Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment, as a park jogger.

Despite these strengths, the movie still suffers from many of the usual shortcomings of B-movies like it. There isn’t a lot of character development and the plotting is thin and obvious, hitting the usual marks we’ve come to expect from movies like this. Big Ass Spider! doesn’t do much new, but it does tend to do it better than many others. Given the title, viewers will know if this is the film for them.

Grade: C+

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