Roger Corman turns to our eight-legged friends in ‘Camel Spiders’

Roger Corman presents 'Camel Spiders' — Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

The cover art for the new Roger Corman movie, Camel Spiders, is terrifying. It features a bald man screaming to the sky, welts scattered across his skin. Crawling over his forehead, into his ear and between his teeth are large, ferocious-looking spiders. As the catch phrase for the movie goes: “They really get under your skin.”

Unfortunately (and expectedly), the movie doesn’t live up to its cover art. The 85-minute feature, directed by Jay Andrews and produced by Corman, is a stupid exercise in monster horror. It’s never scary, and it’s also never funny. All of the actors, many of whom turn in C-level performances, take the script by Andrews and J. Brad Wilke at face value. Where’s the tongue in cheek? Where’s the wink to the audience that this creepy-crawly thriller is a joke? By playing it straight, Camel Spiders becomes a bore after only a few minutes.

Much of the thrill of these silly monster movies is in the special-effects department. But Camel Spiders takes the path of so many horror films nowadays by exclusively using CGI to bring the title characters to life. This means every death scene looks like a video game from the late 1990s.

The paper-thin plot involves a family of spiders that are transported from the deserts of the Middle East to the deserts of American Southwest. Kudos to the audience member who can tell the difference in the two locations. It seems that the filmmaker shot the “war” scenes on one side of a hill and then turned the cameras around to shoot the so-called “American” scenes.

Brian Krause plays an Army captain who tries to keep everyone alive, at least long enough so they can see him save the day. There’s a lot of brainless shooting, with CGI blast marks coming from the guns, and tons of screaming. It all adds up to mediocrity.

Don’t get me wrong, there should be no one expecting quality out of a movie called Camel Spiders. Corman’s stamp of approval comes with many strings attached. And I’m a great supporter of his cheesy sci-fi/horror flicks over the years, especially the ones where nuclear dinosaurs take on super-sized amphibians. But many of those movies featured some inherent comedy and also clever creature effects. Camel Spiders feels like a weekend project that began filming on Friday, wrapped on Sunday and then was made even worse in post-production.

What a wasted opportunity: Spiders make for great villains in any setting. And, yes, when watching Andrews’s film, there’s some uneasy feelings that will cause audience members to check the back of their neck. But this is no Arachnophobia, perhaps the bellwether for arachno-horror. That movie was scary, humorous and suspenseful — three adjectives that simply cannot be applied to Camel Spiders. But I do love looking at that cover art.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • Camel Spiders

  • 2012

  • Directed by Jay Andrews

  • Written by Andrews and J. Brad Wilke

  • Starring Brian Krause and C. Thomas Howell

  • Running time: 85 minutes

  • Not Rated

  • Rating: ½☆☆☆

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications.

E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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