If there has been any subgenre of horror to have a resurgence in 2013 it would be the proper monster movie. From the big screen (Pacific Rim) to Syfy (Sharknado, Ghost Shark) this particular side of horror seemed to peak. Its only appropriate that we’d end the year on one of the best with Big Ass Spider!
When a military experiment escapes it is up to an exterminator (Greg Grunberg from Heroes, Alias) to stop it from destroying Los Angeles. Almost the same as the other giant spider movie this year, Spiders 3D. The big difference is that unlike that movie this movie is intentionally funny. Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar have great chemistry throughout the movie. If they don’t make you laugh surely the effects will. Whether they are the early PS3 CGI or the obvious green screen the movie knows its limitations and revels in them. At a brisk 80 minutes the movie never seemed to drag.
I have to be honest. I really don’t know why I’m writing this. Look at the poster and look at the title. You made your decision the second you saw them. Whatever you are expecting it is here. It has poor CGI, goofy characters and is more fun than it has any right to be. Everything you could possibly want from a schlocky monster movie is here. If for no other reason you should see it to watch a giant spider destroy California to a cover of The Pixies.
Rating- (Appropriately) B
Before getting into the movie proper I feel the need to take a quick look back a few years. In 2006 two trailers for a Dutch movie called Worst Case Scenario were released and they were awesome. Featuring the idea of Nazi zombies it was astounding that they were for an independent feature. Sadly as time went on it became less and less likely that the movie would be made. Despite some hope in 2008 financing could never be secured and the movie was dropped in 2009. Director Richard Raaphorst eventually called the project dead in the water. With death comes life, as this movie shows us, and the movie has seemingly been reborn as Frankenstein’s Army.
As World War II ends a Russian battalion goes stumbles upon a small German village. A village that has seemingly been destroyed. Lured into a secret lab the soldiers face a terror unlike any seen before. As they are picked off one by one they learn that finding the town wasn’t the accident they thought it was. Like Big Ass Spider this could have been a run of the mill horror movie. What makes it stand out from some Asylum movie starring C. Thomas Howell is the design of the creatures. Looking like steampunk Cenobites each one is cooler and crazier than the last. Designed by Richard Raaphorst these practical effects put most big budget films to shame. The design in general is pretty cool. Filmed in Berlin the town really looks like it has been ravaged by war. The doctor’s laboratory looks advanced and ramshackle all at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t think we got to see it to its fullest extent.
I assume it was because of budgetary restrictions but the film is done the found footage style. While I don’t hate those kind of movies I do think it is an overused gimmick. A gimmick that has to be used when it is appropriate. A gimmick that really has no place during this movie. Ignoring how ludicrous the idea is considering the time it really takes away the scope of the war and what is happening. It also felt a bit repetitive at times. It was like a haunted house where things would happen, people would talk and then SURPRISE A MONSTER POPS OUT! Lather, rinse and repeat. It’s a cool showcase for the creatures but they pop up and the shaky cam makes it harder to see them. Again it’s a shame because they really are cool looking.
I know I am complaining but I did dig the movie. While I think it lacked in presentation I do think it made for a fun movie. The effects alone are worth a look for any fan of monster movies. What it lacked in frights is made up in it being a fun ride from a director I’d love to see more from.