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Camel Spiders

USA 2011
produced by
Steve Goldenberg, William Dever, Roger Corman (executive) for New Horizon/SyFy
directed by Jim Wynorski (as Jay Andrews)
starring Brian Krause, C. Thomas Howell, Melissa Brasselle (as Rocky DeMarco), Frankie Cullen, Hayley Sanchez (as Hayley DeMarco), Diana Terranova, Gigi Erneta, Michael Swan, Kurt Yaeger, Matthew Borlenghi, Kayla Gill, Shay Baker, Jessica Cameron, Paul Wallace, Jon Mack, Michael Bernardi, Corey Landis, James Arthur Lewis, Gerard Pauwels, Jason Greear, Thomas Dillard, Steve Goldenberg, Paula LaBaredas, Amber McConnell, Steve Snyder, Derek Hockenbrough, Damien Puckler, Karnell Matthews, Hugh Mun, Gerald Webb, Jason Smither, Charles Solomon jr, Jessica Finch, Christopher Ray, Elizabeth Elverson Welch
written by J. Brad Wilke, Jim Wynorski (as Jay Andrews), music by Chuck Cirino, visual effects by Kevin Kutchaver/HimAnI Productions

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In Afghanistan, Captain Sturges (Brian Krause) and his men get into an ambush, but out of nowhere (and out of sight of the American soldiers), the enemy is eliminated by giant camel spiders, and Sturges has only lost but one soldier - but due to a leg injury, he's sent home with the soldier's coffin. However, some infant camel spiders have snuck into the corpse's body and accompanied Sturges to the USA.

Driving through the US-desert, the truck of Sturges and Sergeant Shelly (Melissa Brasselle) carrying the coffin is rammed by a car on the run from the police, and while Sturges and Shelly come away unscathed, the coffin falls off the truck, and the spiders escape into the desert that's a close of perfect habitat for them.

At a local diner, Sturges, Shelly, Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) and a number of civilians are attacked by the spiders (which have grown in both size and number quite rapidly), and only just make their escape to a chemical plant in the middle of nowhere.

Once there the motley crew containing all the typical stereotypes - the evil land developer (Michael Swan), the dysfunctional family (Hayley Sanchez, Matthew Borlenghi, Jon Mack), the pacifist needing to be trained to use a weapon (Michael Bernardi), the local slut with a heart of gold (Diana Terranova) - try to lock themselves in to wait for the thing to blow over ... only to realize it's getting worse, and they are cut off from the outer world, too. Eventually, they have to fight their way to an escape vehicle, a fight during which all the bad guys are punished, several good guys are allowed to die heroes' deaths, but the core group around Sturges and Shelly makes it to safety, just moments before the plant gets bombed to Kingdom Come by the Air Force.

An unrelated subplot shows four students (Kayla Gill, Shay Baker, Jessica Cameron, Paul Wallace) trying to make it to safety but stumbling over obstacles (mostly of the camel spider kind) every step along the way. That plot is eventually avandoned though.

 

Camel Spiders is basically just what it is, a creature feature, and as such, actually not one of the more memorable ones, for that it follows the formula a bit too closely, is too quick to identify heroes and villains (among the humans), and the situations the characters are thrown into are a bit too clichée. As for the (digital) special effects: The CGI spiders of various sizes are surprisingly good and well integrated into the action, but the CGI blood looks just awful and the gore and mutilation scenes, while quite on the imaginative side, are not executed to full effect.

That said, Camel Spiders also is proof that director Jim Winorsky is a specialist when it comes to creature features, and someone who knows his ways about the history of the genre, so do expect loving homages to 1950s drive-in cinema and the like, woven into the plot rather seamlessly. And at the end of the day, as mentioned above, the film is just what it is, a creature feature - by no means a disaster but also certainly not a classic of the genre (neither has it set out to be) ... and if you can accept all that, you'll probably find yourself entertained.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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