Camel Spiders (2011)

As I Said, Military Screw Up All the Way.

The impetus for today’s movie, as best I can tell, is the fact that my friend Phil’s parents did not hug him enough as a child, turning him into the asshole that he is today.  Exactly one month ago, I came across a bug in my back yard that I was unfamiliar with, and it also happened to be one of the creepiest looking creatures I’d ever seen in person.  I quickly rushed my pets inside and away from the creature and promptly looked it up on the internet, finding out that it was a creature known as Solifugae, or more commonly known as a camel spider.  After finding out about it, I promptly posted about it on Facebook.  That lead to Phil requesting a certain movie that both he and I had seen available in RedBox, and both had decided we had no interest in watching it.  But I don’t really have control of my movie going fate these days, and Phil took advantage by requesting today’s movie.  Let’s see how that worked out for me in my review of the movie Camel Spiders, written by J. Brad Wilke, written and directed by Jim Wynorski, and starring Brian Krause, Melissa Brasselle, C. Thomas Howell, Diana Terranova, Gigi Erneta, Jon Mack, Michael Swan, Hayley Sanchez, Kurt Yaeger, Corey Landis, Michael Bernardi, Matthew Borlenghi, and Hugh Mun.

Capt. Sturges (Brian Krause) and his team are involved in a shootout in the Middle East that is abruptly ended by a group of camel spiders that slaughter their enemies.  The Americans did not leave unscathed, as Sturges gets shot in the leg and one of his longtime friends is killed.  He decides to take the body back to his family personally, but did not decide to take the camel spiders that crawled into the body bag.  Later, in Arizona, Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) is chasing a speeder down an empty highway when he crashes into the vehicle containing Sturges, Sgt. Shelly Underwood (Melissa Brasselle), the body, and the spiders.  The coffin is knocked out of the truck, and the camel spiders escape into the desert.  These spiders breed quickly and spread throughout the town, wreaking havoc wherever they go, and the survivors need to band together to make me want to kill myself.

This movie is basically based completely around the internet phenomenon that the camel spiders became.  When a picture of what appeared to be a gigantic spider came out, people instantly seemed to believe it.  I personally decided to notice that it was two spiders connected together and that you could see the guy’s hand that was holding it, showing that they weren’t too impressive in size.  Is this a flimsy premise to base your movie on?  You bet your sweet ass it is!  Even if the movie was well done, I still would’ve found my reaction lessened by my own experience with the creature.  My readings showed that these creatures only get about 6 inches long, are not poisonous at all, and also aren’t vicious unless you go grab one and fuck with it.  But I understand the suspension of disbelief that comes along with watching a movie, so I don’t knock it for that.  I knock it because it’s shitty.  The writing in this movie is done in a way that makes me feel pretty confident that the writer was not paying attention to this movie.  They say pretty early on, amongst their other misrepresentations about the camel spider, that the creature can reproduce in a matter of days, yet when they arrive in Arizona, they have literally gotten themselves into every corner of the town within a matter of minutes.  I could understand the spiders getting to the kids that went out into the desert where they escaped, but how do you explain the spiders waiting for the girl at the gas station who left the kids in the desert, having already killed the people in the gas station and set up an elaborate trap where they hid in the ice box?  And, on top of that, how do you explain me having to watch the scene of the 4 kids that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie?  There was another scene where a science class is out studying local flora and fauna and they come across a camel spider but the teacher points out that it’s not a spider (which is true) and tells the student to count its legs.  “It only has 6!” he proclaims, proving conclusively that he lacks the ability to count.  The creature clearly has 8 legs and two arms in the front that could be mistaken as legs!  See the picture that I took directly from that scene.  When some of these students escape, one of the students proclaims that he was able to take a picture of it while he was running away from them, but he forgets to explain how he was able to lay a black mat underneath the spider and get it to hold still while he was running from it, or how his shitty prepaid phone can apparently tell you what something is from a picture you took.  I don’t think my iPhone can do that!  This is also the same guy that investigates the house for ways the spiders might be able to get in, proudly proclaiming that he can’t find any access to the house.  Apparently that wall that was missing a few feet away from you doesn’t count.  Maybe you should’ve taken a picture of it with your LG Revere and had it tell you that this is blatant access.  It can probably also answer the girls question when she asks how to kill them.  Really?  They’re spiders!  You step on them or hit them with a shoe.  Or, you can do what they did and find some kitchen knives that they tape to sticks to make spears that they don’t try to stab the spiders with so that they can keep their weapons, instead opting to throw the spear into a room of spiders and run away, leaving yourself defenseless.  The worst part about dealing with this group is that they don’t even remember to wrap up their part of the story.  The guys both die, the girls make it into a car that they can’t get to turn on, and then they cut to the other group.  I guess we can assume what happened, but it was nice of them to forget to wrap it up.  Basically, it seemed as if the writer was smart enough to not watch the movie he wrote, but the director had so much respect for the material that he wouldn’t allow it to be altered so that any of it would make sense.  But since the writer and the director are the same person, I have no explanation.

There’s more that’s wrong with the story, but that paragraph was getting too long.  ON WITH THE SHITTINESS!  I had a lot of problems with the story going on around the main group as well.  First off, apparently our army can’t hit anything.  In their shootout in the beginning, the bad guys shot two of the Americans, but the Americans weren’t able to even knick the broadside of a barn they were fighting.  Thankfully for them, they were saved by bad CG bugs.  Later, we meet the main cast beyond the Sherriff and the two Army people and they just try to shove all their backstory that never turns into anything down our throats really quickly by randomly jumping from table to table.  We have the kindly diner owners, the evil-y business guys that want to buy the diner to expand their mining operation or build a strip mall or some other cliché plot device, the family with relationship troubles, and the pacifist/pussy that randomly hates the military.  This motley crew gets smashed together to survive, trying to coordinate an airstrike from the Army, but that makes me laugh too because the captain tells them something on the radio, the guy repeats it, and then the radio loses signal.  Then the sergeant asks if he thinks they got that last part that they just repeated.  I would stab that bitch in the head with a fucking scissor.  The pacifist character is instantly annoying because he’s so abrasive and randomly hates the military people for no good reason.  And he refuses a gun because he’s a pacifist, but does that really apply to spiders that are trying to kill you?  I understand not wanting to go to war because of your cowardice … I mean principals, but these spiders are trying to kill you.  Maybe it would’ve made more sense if the guy was a PETA supporter, but then I’d want him to get killed even more.  One thing that made me crack up too was later, when the captain, the sergeant, and the 15-year-old daughter of the couple with troubles were escaping the building and the captain randomly orders the sergeant to pick up the girl and carry her outside even though she was perfectly capable of walking.  They also graced us with a random scene of two other Army people driving to Arizona, talking about getting some breakfast, deciding against it, and continuing on with their drive.  …Thanks for that, movie!  The ending was not well thought out either.  They basically just bombed the building the large group was in and cut to a scene later where they were talking about mopping them up.  My guess is that it took them that long to get bored of the movie, which means they have way more patience than I do.

I wondered if it was right to mock this movie for its visuals.  Obviously they didn’t have a lot of money so I’m sure they couldn’t afford the top of the line stuff, but they actually weren’t that bad.  The spiders often stood out as fakey, but they were fairly convincing when attacking people, shooting out some fake blood, occasionally removing limbs.  It was decent enough for what it was.

The performances were either mediocre or flat out bad.  I feel like you can’t rag on them that much because they probably just grabbed some random people around town and told them spiders were attacking them.  If they’re actors, I’m sorry … that this is what you call acting.  Brian Krause and C. Thomas Howell were decent enough, as were some of the people in diner group.  The main evil corporate guy was a little on the nose and the random waitress from the bar was pretty unconvincing, especially since the people in the movie acted like she was attractive though she was far from it.  I guess they deserve some praise for that performance.  Melissa Brasselle was pretty fuckin’ awful.  I don’t know that it was the case, but she reminded me of what happens when you hire a porn star that wants to stretch her acting chops for a movie.  Also, does no one on this movie know anything about the military?  Because you allowed her to show the pacifist how to hold a rifle by putting the butt of the gun under her armpit, and even allowing her to shoot in a random and wild way that would happen if someone actually did put the butt of a gun under her armpit to fire, but I’m pretty sure the Army teaches you to put the butt against your shoulder.  They also tell you to salute with your hand on your forehead and not on the bridge of your nose as if you’re trying to keep the sun out of your eyes.  The group of students were all pretty awful actors, but whoever the redhead was did a pretty decent job, and was actually attractive.  Also, for a movie this shitty, I was very surprised to find that no boobs were exposed during the making of this movie.  You have to give me SOMETHING, movie!

In summation, Camel Spiders is an awful movie.  I downright refuse to allow movies the excuse of “campiness” to explain why their movie is awful, so this movie gets nowhere with me, and it gets there fast.  The story did not pay attention to itself, overflowing with plot holes and plenty of things that made no sense, and boiling down to a rip-off of Arachnophobia with 1/100th of the quality.  It’s basically just two or three groups of people running away from CG spiders until they decide they’ve filmed enough things and smash the story to its unsatisfying conclusion.  Also, neither the look nor the performances offer anything to watch here.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m telling you not to bother with this movie.  It’s true that this movie would be perfect fodder for a night of drinking and mocking the film, but if you’re like me and you watch it solo, you’ll feel like you need to try really hard to get your $1 back from RedBox.  Camel Spiders gets “6 stars … Oh, I miscounted … negative 20” out of “An unimaginable horror.”

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