2013 SXSW Review: BIG ASS SPIDER

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Mike  “Madman” Mendez’s ode to monster movies is an absolute entertainment blast that had me grinning from ear to ear throughout most of the screening and laughing quite often.  If anything, my only criticism would be that not all of the jokes win, some of them had me rolling my eyes and wincing a little, but perhaps Mendez intended this.  His film plays around with monster b-movie conventions, its heroes, sidekicks and other characters and scenarios and should guarantee fans of the genre a great time at the cinema. Note, I didn’t say, “cinema or home” because this fun movie about a gigantic spider deserves at least one viewing on a gigantic movie screen.

Exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) is about to meet his greatest challenge. When a rare breed of spider escapes a top secret government lab and begins to grow at a rapid rate, it wreaks havoc and leaves carnage behind in the city of Los Angeles. The spider quickly becomes a problem beyond the military’s abilities and Alex along with his new sidekick, a hospital security guard named Jose (Lombardo Boyar), step up to the challenge.

Written by Gregory Gieras, Mendez’s film delivers the monster movie goods and serves it up deliciously with just the right humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone.  As I previously stated, not all of the humor hits, but enough does to forgive the few misses there are. The film feels like it is intended as a send-up of bad Sy Fy channel monster movies in addition to classic monster films of the past eras.  Gieras’s script, Mendez’s direction and the acting by the cast certainly deserve praise as all of these elements contribute to the enjoyment of the film.  I enjoyed Greg Grunberg as the unlikely hero Alex.  Lombardo Boyar is hilarious as the stereotypical Hispanic character Jose.  Ray Wise nails his role as the military leader, Major Braxton Tanner.  For fans of goofy and silly monster movies, I must strongly recommend this film. The director’s nickname is Madman! I think that’s a perfect indicator of what to expect.

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