I hate spiders. I hate them with a passion. I appreciate the service that they do for us in keeping the insect population down, but that doesn’t alleviate the animosity I have for them as individual creatures. I don’t know where my hatred comes from, I only know that it exists. And while I have a general dislike for all creatures with more than four legs, spiders get the brunt of it. So Arachnophobia (iTunes) is, essentially, my nightmare. And yet, I love it. It’s creepy, crawly, and ooky. I know that the events from this movie could actually happen, which makes it all that more disturbing. John Goodman is hilarious as the exterminator and I remember when I was younger, watching this movie for the first time, that I distinctly liked his character.
The first time I watched this movie, I wouldn’t go anywhere that might harbor eight-legged freaks. I still don’t like to go into the crawlspace under my house. I refused to reach my hands into a box of cereal unless I opened it myself. Even then, I checked it thoroughly beforehand. My brother tells the story of watching this movie and having a spider crawl out of the chair he was sitting in during a particularly tense scene. I remember the story, only when I recall it, I was sitting in the chair the spider from which the spider emerged. It doesn’t matter which of us is right, what matters is that the fear was so powerful that we both remember it having happened to us, and one of us was merely a spectator.
Sure, it’s not as frightening as most other movies I’ve seen since then, but at the time it was very powerful. And that fear of something so alien to me as a spider has stayed with me throughout my life. I can kill them. I can function knowing they’re hiding in various places in my house. But ask me to reach my hand into a dark space under a cabinet, and I promise that I’ll hesitate before doing so. And spend the entire time waiting for something to brush across my hand and cause me to scream.
Jeff Daniels does a fine job of playing a big-city arachnophobic doctor in a new, small town. But as I said before, the real treat here is Goodman. Plus, you’ll find Kathy Kinney (Mimi, from “The Drew Carey Show”) playing the wife of the town mortician, in one of my least favorite scenes in the movie. Honestly, try to get me to eat popcorn after. I dare you. Of course, the scene where Daniels comes to get his family out of the house only to be trapped in a bathroom teeming with spiders really is the worst nightmare I could possibly imagine.
If you can sit through a movie about spiders, then watch it simply for Goodman. If you can’t, try to watch it anyway for a good scare.
Great, now my skin is crawling all over.