2011 Movie #29: Arachophobia (1990)

by on Oct.08, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Family-Friendly Halloween Movie Countdown | Go to Original Post

“Come on, let’s go find that spider. And let’s find your mom to take care of that spider. Honey, we’re in the living room. We need you to kill a spider.”

We jump from totally kid-friendly “Winnie the Pooh: Frankenpooh and Spookable Pooh” to a movie that’s somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, family film age range-wise. Today’s movie does feature some shocks and jumps, but also a generous helping of mature language. See below for specifics. If you’re OK with that, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching your kids squirm…


  • Rating: PG-13
  • Minimum Recommended Age: 12 (Common Sense Media: Ages 12 and up)
  • Quality Rating: 73% (Rotten Tomatoes Average Rating: 6.7, Common Sense Media rating: 4 stars)
  • Recommended by Lists:
  • Sex/Violence/Profanity: See screen caps below for details
    Sex: 2/10
    No full toplessness, but female flesh as a spider in a
    shower crawls between a girl’s exposed cleavage. Science discussion of the sex organs possessed by the species of spider involved. Suggestion that (married) humans and (unmarried) spiders are about to have sex.

    Profanity: 3/10
    “Damn,” “hell,” the s-word, “SOB,” “God-damned.”

    Violence: 6/10
    Spider bites, a few in closeup, resulting in seizures and death. A sight of hideously withered human and animal corpses. Spiders are squashed and burned; human victims include a nice old lady and a high school athlete. Climactic incendiaries and explosions, and even a projectile weapon.

    Manley%2Bwalks%2Binto%2Ba%2Bspider%2BwebManley walks into a spider web

    A tarantula jumps at the screenA tarantula jumps at the screen

    'How are you feeling?' 'Like hell.  This fever is killing me.'‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Like hell. This fever is killing me.’

    A spider bites ManleyA spider bites Manley

    Manley is dying a painful deathManley is dying a painful death

    Manley is still dying a painful deathManley is dying a painful death

    Manley is deadManley is dead

    Manley's corpseManley’s corpse

    A crow drops dead from a spider biteA crow drops dead from a spider bite

    'Oh, God!'“Oh, God!”

    'It's bad luck not to make love the first night in a new house.'“It’s bad luck not to make love the first night in a new house.”

    Spider sexSpider sex

    'I'm not ready to retire, Doctor.  And if my wife can't rush me into it, you sure as hell can't, either.'“I’m not ready to retire, Doctor. And if my wife can’t rush me into it, you sure as hell can’t, either.”

    Fit as a fiddle.  Not a damn thing wrong with you.“Fit as a fiddle. Not a damn thing wrong with you.”

    In my opinion, Dr. Metcalf isn't aware of the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.“In my opinion, Dr. Metcalf isn’t aware of the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.”

    Our little spider made himself a hell of a home“Our little spider made himself a hell of a home.”

    Oh, God“Oh, God.”

    What the hell WAS that?“What the hell WAS that?”

    A dead mouse hangs in the spider webA dead mouse hangs in the spider web

    Oh my GOD!“Oh my GOD!”

    Margaret is about to get bitten by a spiderMargaret is about to get bitten by a spider

    Margaret's bodyMargaret’s body

    You're damn right it's not.“Until I know why, this case isn’t closed.” “You’re damn right it’s not closed.”

    Ross gets drunkRoss gets drunk

    Country doctor from hell“Ross, you’re a fine doctor. I’m sure you knew exactly what you were doing when you took her off those pills.” “Ah, like I knew what I was doing when I chose this town, with the country doctor from hell.”

    Doc wants to hear you cough“Doc wants to hear you cough.”

    The football players pull down their underwearThe football players pull down their underwear

    Shitty pad!“Shitty pad!”

    Miller gets bitten by a spider in his helmetMiller gets bitten by a spider in his helmet

    'Damn!' 'What's wrong?' 'Some damn thing bit me!'“Damn!” “What’s wrong?” “Some damn thing bit me!” “It’s just a spider.” “Spider? Felt like a damn cougar! Damn! Damn!”

    Dr. Metcalf dies from a spider biteDr. Metcalf dies from a spider bite

    Dr. Metcalf is deadDr. Metcalf is dead

    'No shit.'“This is very bad business, Mr. Yale Graduate, big-city doctor. A very bad business!” “No shit.”

    Creepy dollCreepy doll

    You son of a bitch.“You son of a bitch.”

    'It's dead.' 'Shit.'“It’s dead.” “Shit.”

    A spider crawls in Coach Beechwood's daughter's cleavage as she takes a showerA spider crawls in Coach Beechwood’s daughter’s cleavage as she takes a shower

    Coach Beechwood sees his daughter nakedCoach Beechwood sees his daughter naked

    Coach Beechwood's son sees his sister nakedCoach Beechwood’s son sees his sister naked

    'Is that one of them?'  'I'd say it's a damn fine suspect.'‘Is that one of them?’ ‘I’d say it’s a damn fine suspect.’

    Delbert McClintock the exterminator steps on a spiderDelbert McClintock steps on a spider

    A mouse is injected with spider venomA mouse is injected with spider venom

    'No sex organs.'“No sex organs.”

    Damn, it's busy“Damn! It’s busy.” “Oh, that’s the Wheel, Doc. Irv and Blair always take the phone off the hook during Weel of Fortune.” “Let’s get the hell over there, let’s go!”

    A spider crawls out of Irv's noseA spider crawls out of Irv’s nose

    Irv and Blair are deadIrv and Blair are dead

    Who the hell lives there?“Who the hell lives there?”

    The whole time, the nest was in my own god damn barn!“The whole time, the nest was in my own god damn barn!”

    A dead mouse hangs in the spider webA dead mouse hangs in the spider web

    Another spider victimAnother spider victim

    The spider sinks its teeth into ChrisThe spider sinks its teeth into Chris

    Chris Collins' bodyChris Collins’ body

    The spiders close inThe spiders close in

    Spiders come out of the bathroom sink drainSpiders come out of the bathroom sink drain


    Ross falls from the second floorRoss falls from the second floor

    'I'm in the god damn nest!'“I’m in the god damn nest!”

    The queen gets electrocutedThe queen gets electrocuted

    A spider defents the egg sacA spider defents the egg sac

    'That was a god damn general!'“That was a god damn general!”

    God damn it, where are you?  Damn it!“God damn it, where are you? Damn it!”

    Ross fights the generalRoss fights the general

    Ross is paralyzed with fearRoss is paralyzed with fear

    The burning spider:  'Shit!'“Shit!”

    The egg sac explodesThe egg sac explodes
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing, except for spiders


Referring to the fear of spiders, Arachnophobia features a particularly deadly species of spider that manages to make its way from the Venezuelan rain forest to a small California town, thanks to the many oversights of entomologist Julian Sands. Yuppie doctor Jeff Daniels, fed up with the dangers inherent in big-city living, has resettled in this town on the assumption that nothing untoward could ever happen here to himself and his family. Before long, however, Daniels is trying to make sense of a series of sudden deaths-and to figure out why each of the corpses has been drained of blood. The audience, of course, knows that the culprits are those pesky South American spiders, which grow larger with each kill. To make matters worse, Jeff Daniels suffers from a profound case of arachnophobia. John Goodman supports the cast as a slovenly exterminator, and Frank Marshall, longtime producer of Steven Spielberg’s films, makes his directorial debut in Arachnophobia.

Watch Out For

Common Sense Media
Parents need to know that this horror-comedy features spider-bite-seizure deaths of likeable characters, including grandparent-ish types and imperiled house pets, and there is one particularly hideous corpse. Dialogue includes swearing (at the PG-level), and there is some naked female anatomy strategically revealed in a shower sequence. Needless to say, young (and old) viewers with a morbid fear of spiders may find some of the visuals uncomfortable or nightmare-inducing. There is the use of a nail gun as a weapon that may encourage unwise copycat behavior among kids.

Talk About It

Common Sense Media

Families can talk about spiders in real life, including the bird-eating spiders of the tropics (that obviously inspired the fictional species here). Why are spiders so creepy? Ask children if they fear spiders or can tolerate them.

For responsible opposing viewpoints, study up on the beneficial aspects of spiders, or read pro-spider storybooks such as Charlotte’s Web.

Discuss how this movie doesn’t go the giant-mutant-bug route of sci-fi thrillers like Tarantula and Eight Legged Freaks; spiders here are realistically sized. Talk about the “inverse square law,” a scientific truth oft violated by Hollywood, in which the larger an animal is, the heavier its supporting anatomy has to be. Therefore invertebrates like the ones in giant-insect flicks would be squashed by their own massive exoskeletons.

Of Note

  • This was film maker Frank Marshall’s first directorial effort, and the first picture released by Hollywood Pictures
  • Marshall meant for the film to be like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, and added, “People like to be scared but laughing, like a roller coaster. No one wants to be terrified.”
  • The film made use of 374 Avondale spiders, from New Zealand, which were picked for their large size, unusually social lifestyle, and because they are essentially harmless to humans. They were guided around the set by the use of heat and cold, but the large “queen” was an articulated model.
  • To create the sound effects of spiders being stepped on or squished, Foley artists stepped on mustard packs or squashed potato chips.


Tue. Oct. 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM on SYFY


Watch It

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