When you approach a film titled Big Ass Spider, you know what you’re in for. At worst you’re getting cynical Syfy Channel type low grade schlock, at best, you’re getting a film that reached too high but it’s failures are completely astounding to watch. With the confidence to name itself Big Ass Spider!, I hoped going in it would deliver on all the Big Ass Potential a title like that could provide. It certainly supplies all the dopiness, comedic schlock, and cheese I could ever hope for.
So where does Big Ass Spider! fit into this spectrum? Is Big Ass Spider! a Big Ass Failure or a Big Ass Spectacular?
Big Ass Spider
Director: Mike Mendez
Release Date: October 18, 2013 (in theaters and VOD)
Big Ass Spider! is the story of an itsy bitsy spider that climbs up a mutant water spout. Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) is a down and out exterminator on his day off when a spider bite sends him to the hospital. Unfortunately for Alex, that same hospital was accidentally sent a military experimental super spider that’s now loose in the city as it steadily gets bigger. When the military runs out of hope, they turn to Alex and his new friend, the security guard Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar) to put a stop to the giant spider menace.
Let me start off this review by stating Big Ass Spider! is absolutely wonderful. It’s oozing with cheese and celebrates it in the way you want it to. You see, the best part of Big Ass Spider! is the commitment to the premise and its absurdity. Although you can tell everyone involved knows they’re in what’s supposed to be a bad movie, it’s never once discernible while watching. Special credit goes to the cast for believably speaking dialogue that’s mostly terrible with semi-straight faces. Most of the cast (there are a few duds in the mix, unfortunately) rides a fine line between playing it straight, and delivering their lines with a tinge of humor. For example, Lombardo Boyar’s strained accent might be grating to some at first (and I thought I would find it insulting), but it’s played up so heavily that it elevates the humor of his lines. His “Batman and Robin” line is the perfect example of this as it takes a joke concept we’ve heard before (I’ll be the Robin to your Batman), but his accent is the only reason its funny.
And while on the subject of Jose, BAS! wonderfully exaggerates one of the most common problems found in “Grade B” exploitation films, the ethnic stereotype. For once, the ethnic stereotype displayed in a Grade B film isn’t overtly degrading or condescending, he’s entertaining! Although Jose is the support to the main character and the comic relief, he’s seen saving Alex several times (and one charging to a hilarious Mariachi theme) and has wonderful insights into the plot. But hilariously (and deviously intelligent) enough, all of that is hidden under his exaggerated accent.
Greg Grunberg is a wonderful anchor to all of this schlock. As Alex, he splendidly slips into the quirky, not really knowledgeable “spider expert” (with a tiny spider tattoo!). Sure some of his delivery is off the mark (particularly in some of the action scenes), but he rules the standard conversations. And when some of the dialogue is a little too rough, he’s comedic timing makes it all better. And Alex the Exterminator as an exploitation character (the “something” expert) is great overall as it’s turned into a hapless guy who’s still very knowledgeable about his craft. Although the film may want you to believe no thought went into the story (as most “giant monster” B films), it’s nice to see the main character ridiculed, but not completely asinine.
Big Ass Spider! is a loving and genuine tribute to terrible giant monster films without ever becoming terrible itself. It’s the little ass touches that make the difference. From the design of the military scientist (he’s in a Jurassic Park like white suit and smoking a cobb pipe), from casting Ray Wise as the stern military general, from a hilariously random Lloyd Kaufman (the King of Troma, a studio that knows a thing or two about genuinely loving schlock) cameo, to even the gratuitous but not overbearing shots (there’s only two or three short instances of this) of women’s butts (one of my favorite shots of the film is a hospital scene in which the camera casually decides to follow behind a nurse’s behind). Sure it’s not that great looking and is, at times, a little hard to look at, none of that should matter since there’s so much Big Ass Fun to be had.
If you’re a bad film lover, or a film lover in general (and can recognize the genuine nature of its terribleness), give Big Ass Spider! a try. I like Big Ass Spider! and I cannot deny. It’s a Big Ass Masterpiece!