Well, tonight’s film is called Ice
Spiders, which has a pretty good looking cover on it.
Of course, covers really mean nothing at all, and this has the potential
of combining the worst of Ice Crawlers with the worst of Arachnia.
The box promises that it’s “Eight Legged Freaks” meets “Hot Dog:
The Movie.” Uh oh.
Anyway, let’s get started. And we start out with some reddish computer graphics of spiders with some science type text, then the title of the movie, and then a shot of a mountain in the winter. We’re told it’s “Lost Mountain” in Logan County, Utah. And we cut in on some hunters trying to start a fire. Well, one of them is. The other is up in a tree looking out over the landscape through binoculars.
Tree Guy spots a buck walking along the snow. He passes the binoculars down to his buddy, and Tree Guy gets ready to shoot an arrow. Non Tree Guy, though, spots a giant spider the size of a…well, it’s hard to tell. A large dog, I’m guessing. Or maybe a child’s outdoor bathing pool? Both of them worry about this. Tree Guy reckons it’ll be a nice trophy and shoots an arrow at it, but the spider nicely dodges it and glares at the two humans with…its two eyes. Okay, we all know spiders have eight eyes, but let’s give a bit of credit here: it’s easier to convey menace with a more human face. It mirrors the expressions better. Also, this is a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie so we can't really expect a whole lot.
Non Tree Guy runs away, while Tree Guy
calls after him and drops to the ground. Spider
skitters along toward the victims.
hope I didn’t spoil it for you.
Tree Guy shoots another arrow, but it hits a tree. How ironic! Tree Guy shooting a tree? Cough. Spider finds this interesting, then looks after Tree Guy with his weird mirror-tunnel vision. Then he continues the pursuit.
Both of these guys’ panic doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The spider seems pretty fast, but they both seem a lot faster. We cut back to Non Tree Guy who yells for Tree Guy, wondering where he is; well, you left him behind as you might recall. Back to Tree Guy who gets off another ineffectual arrow.
I have no idea where these guys are running to, and apparently neither do they. Tree Guy comes to rest in the middle of a clump of trees, which is (guess what) a giant spider larder. There are deer corpses all trussed up, and Non Tree Guy runs around in the background—only to be jumped and bitten by the giant spider. It seems to be wading pool size after all. Tree Guy watches in horror as his pal is chomped on, kind of forgetting, I guess, that he himself doesn’t seem to be in a safe place.
Sure enough, another spider jumps down on him and makes short (off screen) work of him, as we get our credits. And footage of a school bus driving along a wintry road. We cut inside, and the first thing noted is how no one on board has any cell phone signal. It’s called exposition, folks. There’s some banter. Really, though, if they’re going to a ski resort, there ought to be signal like crazy, since mountains are pretty good for putting antennae on top of. Oh well, we’ll just take it as a given.
Apparently this is a ski team, training for the Olympics, but they’re going to this isolated place because…well, I’m sure they’ll tell us. (Note: apparently so they can do nothing but ski. Aspen has all these distractions like internet and cable TV and stuff, so we're told.)
I recognize one of the co-editors as low-budget filmmaker Danny Draven, who did something I reviewed here a while ago. And Brian Trenchard-Smith, another low budgeteer, is a “Creative Consultant.”
Now, of course, as soon as we had all that chatter about cell phone signal and lack thereof…we cut back to Tree Guy, now all wrapped up and hanging painfully in the spiders’ lair. And his cell phone rings. Damn, can we have some consistency? He drops it from his numbing fingers, and breathes his last.
And the school bus pulls up to the Lost Mountain ski resort. The coach greets the owner and they chatter, while Chad, our lead dickhead (he did all the complaining back on the bus) puts his fingernail-on-blackboard talents on display. He’s rude, obnoxious and a jerk; can he be eaten first please? Thanks awfully. Owner Guy puts him down somewhat. I can’t help noting that the snow is kind of all melting around them.
Owner Guy brings in the team and shows them to their rooms. And we’re told Dan “Dash” Dashiell works here. Well, I for one will sleep better knowing this. Thanks! We’re also told he was totally awesome and stuff, and we cut to him teaching some lady how to ski, but not all that successfully. She’s awfully good-natured about falling down, though. Of course, she gives ol’ Dash the “eye” if you know what I mean and I think you do.
Dash notes that the folks here forget everything he says “ten seconds” after he says it. And some other guy comes skiing up and collapses right next to the lady, and laughs along with her. Dash looks like he wishes he had a different job. He skis off.
And a giant spider comes out of the woods and watches the skiers from what seems like a pretty close position. And to be fair, you can kind of see other eyes around the edges of the main two.
Dash comes back inside and asks for Owner Guy. OG is busy checking in “the Olympic dudes.” We’re introduced to “Doc” (Vanessa Williams) and she and Dash complain about their jobs. Dash asks what she does up at the lab.
“It’s all very technical, you probably wouldn’t understand it even if I explained it.” Uh, that means you didn’t explain it very well, I think. He offers her a ski lesson, but she declines saying she’s all done for the day, and in fact has to get back to the lab, and oh did she get any mail today? Sure thing says the Desk Dude. Turns out it’s a present from her mom, who is also a biologist, blah blah blah.
She leaves, and the Olympic Team shows up to shower Dash with the usual “You were so great years ago!” stuff. He relates the story of how he had a really bad accident and had to have his leg rebuilt, and this was just before the Olympics so he couldn’t compete. You might think that sort of thing would be in the news, especially for ski fanatics, but it’s a complete revelation to everyone here, including the not-quite-departing Doc. She looks, um, smiley and stuff and I guess she’s admiring him? Vanessa Williams doesn’t seem to be doing much acting here.
Anyway, he lost everything, and everyone says too bad, except Chad, who’s all swaggering and stuff. Dash says he can take Chad. I sure hope it’s around back to be shot, quite frankly. They agree to race later, and the Olympics leave. Doc says Dash doesn’t have to impress anyone, and Dash says these punks gotta learn respect, and it’s perfectly sunny outside with green grass. Where the hell are the giant spiders anyway?
“And besides,” he says to her while leaving, “I already impress you!” And we cut to a mountain scene. “This is good,” Dash’s voice says (on the soundtrack). Dash and Chad are ready to go, and Dash gives Chad the call. Chad says, “One…twothree!” real fast and shoots off while Dash bemoans the cheating nature of it all. Well, Chad probably will get killed (let’s hope) so there are advantages to coming in second.
We watch them race for a while in what is admittedly some pretty good footage—well shot, some nice artsy touches, etc. Dash pulls ahead, but then chokes when he has to clear a wall of rock. Chad shoots over and wins the race.
Everyone congratulates him, he acts like a jerk, etc, etc. Man, Vanessa Williams cannot act at all, I’m sorry. She says she has to go back to work. Dash asks her out to dinner. She begs off, saying she’s busy.
We get ominous noises as we watch people trundle on the ski lift. Some not-too-good skier is coming down the mountain, and sure enough, he’s being watched by a pair of big mirror eyes. As he skis past a rock, a spider jumps out and lands on his back! He yells and falls down. In a nice little touch, as he disappears from view, his ski continues slowly down the mountain.
And we cut to Doc driving along. There’s a bunch of army guys playing basketball and she drives past them. They all wave to her. One guy sits in a chair. Wow.
And Dash is walking among the…rapidly melting snow, berating himself for his stupid attempts to date Doc. Owner Guy comes up and says Dash ought to relax a bit (I’m paraphrasing) and live a little, blah blah, Dash says yeah he knows he’s uptight, blah blah. Blah. Just then a ranger truck drives in with two ski-mobile type things. Owner Guy posits that the “rangers have a problem.”
Back in Doc’s car, she hears a weather report saying that there’s a “freeze warning” which will make all the roads impassible around five o’clock. Meanwhile, Doc pulls into the “Pine Mountain Proving Ground.” Damn this weather looks so sunny and stuff. Anyway, she pulls out the parcel from “mom” and it turns out to have pictures of spiders and hazmat signs and stuff.
But we cut to some guys poring over a map. It’s Dash, Owner Guy and a park ranger who tells them all about the missing hunters from the beginning of the film. Owner Guy agrees to let Dash join the search. The ranger avers how this is needed because all the other rangers are out with the flu. And the snow is melting like crazy all around them. I hate to keep harping on this, but they don’t even make any attempt to hide it—shooting over the ground, and like that. Anyway, Owner Guy says “Sometimes nature has a way of striking back” a propos of nothing, really. Dash and the ranger ride off, towing the ski-mobiles.
Meanwhile, Doc enters the Proving Grounds. Pausing to look at the pictures of spiders again, she says, “Somebody’s got some serious explaining to do.” Then she walks on. As she walks through another door, one of the papers she’s carrying slips out and falls to the ground. I hope she’s not going to berate some underling for being careless, because, well…
She passes by a wall where the heating vent has been knocked out. She looks at but thinks nothing of it, I guess. She walks further into the lab complex. The whole place, so far, is deserted. She finally seems to find this puzzling. “Joseph?” she calls out, then “David?”
Finally, she finds them…or at least a severed leg of one of them. She tries to act shocked, but fails. She acts like someone just realizing she left town without canceling an appointment. She does it again when she finds the rest of the bodies, and the other guy.
Hearing a rough-breathing noise, she finds Joseph still alive, all cocooned by a wall. He keeps saying, “Get out, she’s coming back, she’s hungry” which sounds like a cue for action to me, but Doc just kind of stays all wobbly. She asks him what happened.
He says “they ran out of food, they went crazy” and she points out that there’s enough food for weeks. He says nope, then he throws up blood and dies. And we hear spider-skittering noises. She hides, but drops a spoon, and the spider comes after her. She passes a perfectly reasonable door that she could use to lock the spider inside the lab, and instead runs into another small room so she’s trapped. It says “Chemical Storage” so maybe she’ll find something she can use there.
Back to Dash and the Ranger. They’re driving along a mountain road. They banter about their respective names—“Ranger Rick” and “Dash.” There’s more banter about the military base moving in, hunters staying away, etc. They talk about how hot Doc is.
Speaking of Doc, she tries a phone. It doesn’t work, apparently. She eyes the fire alarm switch. Remember those army guys? Well, we cut to them and they’ve finished their game and start loading a truck. Then the alarm sounds. They scramble to go see what’s up (and no doubt get horribly killed). Another scientist guy wonders what’s up, and notes that Doc is up there. Chief Army Guy notes that communication with the lab is down. Science guy says there’s nothing wrong, but the army guys go off to see for sure.
Meanwhile, Dash and Rick find the hunters’ truck and press on. They’re watched by a bright green spider. (The one in the lab looked almost metallic, though she had the Black Widow’s red markings underneath.)
The army guys (and Scientist) get to the Proving Grounds. Who wants to bet Scientist is behind the whole thing? Guns drawn, the army guys enter. Dash and Rick start their ski-mobiles. They split up. Army guys go through the corridor, none of them seeing the phone upended. Dash drives along the mountain. Army guys keep going in. They find some blood, very neatly placed on the floor (one edge is perfectly straight). Scientist guy looks really guilty (he also found the missing page).
The army guys say they have to check the lab. Scientist says it’s probably nothing more than a short circuit. I guess he didn’t see the pool of blood. They all move down the corridor, including a very reluctant Scientist.
Dash, in the meantime, finds a really mutilated elk carcass. He calls Rick and tells him about it. Rick says he’s found nothing so he’s heading over to where Dash is.
Back to the army guys, they’re still creeping along the corridors. They find the knocked-out air-duct grill and it arouses their suspicions (and they’re not scientists). They shine a light down it, and one can’t help noting the slime inside. No one seems to think to ask Scientist if this means something nasty has escaped, and he volunteers no information. They move on.
Dash, in the meantime, finds half of one of the hunters. This is obviously “take two,” at least, since the snow already has tracks in it. He calls Rick about the body, and shoots off a flare. The other half of the hunter is just down the way a bit. Man these spiders are picky eaters I guess. We cut to Rick, so I’m guessing he’s going to be killed. He roars off to join Dash.
Back to the army guys…geez, who directed this, Uwe Boll? The music gets all tense-techno. They find the two dead guys, Doc yells how the Black Widow is still out there. I guess Scientist hears her, because he says, “She’s long gone, they’re all gone, you can come out now.” So she does and tells them they need more soldiers. Scientist says these are all the soldiers they’re going to get.
There’s a lot of conversation from Doc (we need to get more soldiers) Scientist (these guys can handle this) Doc (they killed my whole staff) Chief Army Guy (my guys are more than lab techs). Etc etc. We’ve all heard it a lot. Whoever made this movie bought a whole box of old cliches and they're going to use all of them it seems.
The Black Widow pops down on an army guy and carries him around by the head for a while before killing him; the others all shoot at it…and miss. All of them. A target the size of a dog. You can see how this is going to go, right? They shoot up the ceiling but the spider is unharmed. It gets through the drop ceiling and skitters away.
Chief Army Guy notes that there’s “five more” spiders.
“Five more?” says another army guy. “We got lucky with that last one.” Well, I suppose if you define “lucky” as “wasting tons of ammo without destroying the target” then yeah, you got lucky.
They talk about killing the other spiders, and Scientist says they can’t do that, they have to capture them alive. “This program saves lives!” he says. Uh…okay.
Doc is all aghast at this, and the usual arguments ensue. Scientist says the other spiders are probably all outside, as if there were another one inside, it would have attacked them already. I resist the urge to add, “and killed about three or four of them.” Chief Army Guy says he didn’t think spiders liked the cold, and Scientist says that the other four will probably be found hibernating in the immediate outside area.
I’d wondered that about spiders too. I wonder if they’re actually address this in any further detail?
Anyway, Doc wonders how they can be sure that the spiders will hibernate, “after all the genetic tinkering and cellular grafts?” Yeah, that’s what I wanna know too.
Scientist says, “We did nothing to
make them immune to subzero temperatures, doctor.”
He basically tells her to butt out. Of
course, the temperatures outside are a bit warmish…
Back with Dash, Rick shows up to see the dead half-hunter. Rick is pretty shook up, and they chat a bit. Dash says the flesh is almost melted-like. He thinks this might be a crime scene. They go off to find the other hunter before they call in the crime professionals.
Back with Doc, she goes into another part of the lab and takes some CDs out of a player and sneaks them into her car. Damn it looks nice and warm out there. (Sorry.) Of course, rather than drive out of there, she takes out her laptop and reads the first CD. “You accelerated the growth rate!” she hisses. Damn, Doc, even I could figure that one out without any CDs or even an advanced degree. She drives off.
Sure is a lot of driving in this movie. I wonder if the big car companies were behind the production, as some kind of propaganda thing to get us to drive away from home video selections like these? Talk about economic warfare.
Back with Dash and Rick, we get a pretty cool shot of the green spider trundling right up into the camera, where it then watches the two of them looking for the second hunter. Because after all, if you’ve found one body apparently torn apart by a powerful psychopath, what better way to proceed than by wandering through the woods where he might still lurk? Those of you who said, “Call the police!” go to the back of the class. You know that’s just for wusses.
Well, the above was all written weeks ago, so I’ve forgotten everything that happened in this movie. I hope it was full of thrills and burritos and happy bouncing elves. Elves Costello.
Anyway, now it will all be fresh and new and entertaining!
Pause for laughter.
Well, Dash notes something and points it out to Rick. It seems the trees are covered with large sacks of webbing, containing what look like animal bodies. They wander through the webbed area and finally find the other hunter. He’s been all cocooned and stuff. Rick is pretty shook by this, but Dash goes a little nuts. Before Rick can deliver his line, he says, “Spiders do not come out in the winter, Rick! And even if they did, they couldn’t cover up a whole human being like that!”
“Yeah, it’s getting cold out here, don’t you think?” observes Rick.
“Yeah, I think it’s time to head back!” Dash agrees.
Before they can do so, the green spider thwips out a web like Spider-Man and snares Rick’s foot. He then starts reeling Rick in. Despite Dash’s best efforts, Rick is indeed dead. Rick runs in a panic. Of course, this is not to judge him too harshly, I would too.
A red-striped spider takes off after the tasty Dash, who makes it to the ski-cat and drives off. The red-striper is in, um, luke-warm pursuit. While Dash speeds off, another spider (yellow) appears in the road. Dash speeds up and knocks the yellow guy into pieces. Well, score one for homo sapiens. Orange guy takes off. Dash makes it to the truck but so does Mr. Orange and he leaps onto the roof. Dash drives off and tosses the little guy off, but instead of finishing the job, he drives off. Mr. Orange shakes off this bit of humiliation and…goes on the pursuit again. It wouldn’t have been too much trouble to kill the little blighter, Dash; you have a truck with big wheels. I know I’m not supposed to ask if you’re stupid, Dash, but…are you stupid, Dash?
Back with our soldiers. They’ve been unable to find anything. Scientist says, as everyone is standing around in the green trees with short sleeve shirts, “They must have a higher resistance to the cold than I thought.” Man, that just never stops being funny. Scientist, meanwhile, has one of those little lower-lip beards so that just proves he’s evil. His chomping will be well deserved. Uh, spoiler alert I’m guessing.
“Maybe the doc was right,” observes the chief Army guy.
Scientist avers how he ought to know more than Doc, since he (Scientist) created the spiders in the first place. (Oh man, I see a scene later where he pleads with the spiders: “No, I can help you! Lead you! We had a deal!” Okay I’m gonna stop that because I’m sucking any possibly enjoyment out of this movie the way a spider sucks guts out of a fly’s cadaver.)
Army guy counters that they (the spiders) are “obviously more active than we thought.” He’s going to get out the “containment gear…just in case.”
We cut to the ski resort, where…damn it, what’s the idiot’s name? Chip? Chad. He’s bragging on himself again, and his companion notes that Dash was pretty good too. “I still won, that’s all that matters,” Chad crows. And more talk. They decide to race down the mountain for who buys dinner and the music gets all ominous. Up on the ski lift, the ski coach sees Mr. Green ambling along the top of one of the pylons. Damn, these spiders get around. Oh well, sorry coach. And there’s another one on the next pylon, a yellow and black striper.
So, that’s Black Widow, Mr. Orange, Mr. Green, Mr. Yellow (Deceased) and now Mr. Black and Yellow. There’s our five I guess.
Anyway, rather than face the wrath of the arachnids, Coach leaps from the ski lift car to the ground below. As enormously coincidental bad luck would have it, he lands right on a rock which causes him to break a leg. Mr. Green soon is upon him and that’s it for Coach. Some other skier comes sailing over the kill right at that moment and it’s two-for-one for Mr. Green. Aren’t you lucky!
In the lodge, Doc comes in and tells…the owner guy, um. Hang on. Oh, I called him Owner Guy earlier! Wasn’t that handy. Well, she tells him they have to evacuate the whole place. After some ineffectual banter, some guy comes in and yells “Run! They’re killing everyone!”
Doc and Owner Guy head outside to see the two spiders making very short work of the jolly skiers. Really, in the panic there are two skiers on the deck high-fiving each other. Sure enough, though, the spiders are leaping on the inept skiers, who fall down and get killed. Mr. Green jumps on one guy as he’s doing a leap off a ridge. Elsewhere, some girl falls down in front of Mr. Black and Yellow and Doc, seeing this, flies into a rage and grabs a ski pole. She and Random Girl bash at the spider for a while. This bashing has the effect of making the spider reel around so Doc can escape.
Owner Guy is rounding everyone up and getting them indoors. One couple, huddled by some picnic tables, declaims in a panic, “You didn’t say anything about spiders!” Really? It wasn’t in the brochure? Wow. That is shoddy.
Owner Guy gets everyone in and notes that there are some people—the ski team, to be precise—holed up in the ski-cat garage. They say they should stay where they are, and note as three of their number—including some fabled “Otto” of their acquaintance—try to make it to the school bus and are grabbed by Mr. Orange.
In the lodge, Mr. Green presses his face up against the front door and looks at Doc and the assembled others. Owner Guy is still outside somewhere, so he’s toast, but I’m sure he’ll get a heroic death. Like saving these idiot kids. Uh…I take it back.
Owner Guy shows up, sure enough, and asks the kids—who were going to stay put until it was all over—if they’re ready to “make a run for it,” it being the lodge I guess. So they all run out onto the snow. Actually it looks like “it” is the school bus and as they run, they kick up so much slush, that it’s uncharitable of me to mention it. So I won’t. The rock guitar does kick in, though. So there’s that.
They all get into the bus and wonder what to do next, while Black Widow watches from a nearby hillock. In the ski lodge, they’re barricading the huge mass of windows with everything they can find, though it looks kind of ineffectual. You know, wicker chairs and like that. Though the sofa stuffed into one window will certainly help if the spiders decide, for some stupid reason, to concentrate on that.
“The phone’s dead,” some ski dude announces. “This is totally not cool!” You mean…they’re just now getting around to the phones?
And why would the spiders interfere with the phones? For that matter, why would the Black Widow look hungrily upon a school buss? Once the prey are inside, she should go look for easier pickings, yes? Not to mention the fact that spiders don’t eat that often, so all the skiers they killed earlier ought to make them fat and happy for several days at least and…oh, the hell with it. The film-makers didn’t bother with these questions, so why raise them?
We cut to Scientist and some soldier guy (I guess) at the telephone pole. They look satisfied about something. Well, I’m glad someone is.
And back to the school bus, where Chad is going to brave the outside to get the school bus keys from the fabled Otto. He is, after all, the fastest. Chad, I mean, not Otto. Otto was not fast. Chad runs out over to Otto, and….he gets the keys and the Black Widow sees him, and she does that kind of butt-wiggle that cats do when they see prey, and--
And he runs and gets in the bus and closes the door right in the Black Widow’s face, and she bounces off the door.
And we can see that she’s about the size of a cocker spaniel. Good grief, why don’t they just grab some sticks and stomp her to death? I mean, really.
Anyway, she skitters out of frame, so she can surprise us later…oh, damn, there’s another one. Sorry. Spoiler alert. And the kids get the bus going and they drive away. And boy there’s hardly any snow anywhere, is there?
And the Black Widow slooooowly crawls down the front windshield. “She’s right there!” one character helpfully tells us. The bus hits a patch of snow—where’d that come from?—and the bus tumbles a bit.
And we cut to Dash getting back to the ski lodge, and he knocks on the door. He makes a prayer-like gesture, and inside, one guy wonders, “What the heck is Dash doing out there?”
“He’s trying to get in, you idiot,” his wife ripostes. Despite the formidable barricade, they let him inside in a couple of seconds. Dash goes and tells Hey Dude not to worry about the radio, everyone at the ranger station is out sick. He in turn is informed that the phones are down. Doc appears and asks about Rick. Dash informs her that Rick will not be appearing in tonight’s presentation.
Doc, or rather Vanessa Williams, lets out all the acting stops as she puts her head on her forehead.
Dash asks what Doc is doing here, and Hey Dude says “Dude, why d’ya think she’s down here, man? Those spiders came from her secret lab.” Not that that really answers the question, but hey, you get exposition where you can, right? I mean, yeah, we already knew all of that, but still…
Well, Dash isn’t happy to hear this, and gets all moody-eyed, and Doc says she signed a “non-disclosure” contract so she couldn’t say anything. Dash asks when the “non-disclosure” rescue troops are coming. In the meantime, Hey Dude tries to contact the lab in hopes that the military might still be there.
In regards to the “cavalry” Dash wanted, Doc says not to count on that “for anything.” So Dash goes out to the assembled ski people and tries to comfort them by noting that they’re all okay, they’re safe, they (Dash, Doc and Dude) are trying to get help, and maybe getting drunk is the best option. Oh wait, that last bit was me. Sorry about that, chief.
“We’re gonna have to learn to work together,” Dash concludes.
“Hey, who put you in charge?” asks the Idiot Husband.
“Those things out there, and twelve years in the Marines,” Dash notes, “unless you want the job.”
“…No,” Idiot Husband says, “you seem to be doing a good job.” He does? Really? He just showed up with an empty pep talk? Wow.
At any rate, or rather because of, he orders food supplies centralized and the doors and windows double-checked. He says the “kitchen is cut off” but I can’t imagine what he means by that. How many of these stupid spiders are there?
Dash goes off to “check the other generator” and Doc says, in the dubbing booth, “I’m going with you.” And we cut to the school bus, with “Damn, we’re doomed” piano chords playing. Everyone seems to be okay, but there’s an immediate argument about how Chad was responsible for it all. Owner Guy shushes them and tries to talk calm. They take stock and find that “Steven” is out cold and in shock and needs…to be back at the lodge, where there’s an infirmary. Ooo, but that Black Widow (now about three times as big) walks on the roof and scares them. “I don’t think it’s going to let us leave,” Chad offers as an opinion.
Back at the ski lodge, Dash asks Doc what was going on at the lab. Doc…heavy sigh…says it’s classified and on a “need to know” basis. Damn does that excuse get old. Yeah, we’re surrounded by hostile, intelligent spiders, but I better not tell you any useful information. “Well, there’s dead people outside,” Dash says, “so I think I need to know.”
Doc continues to stonewall, until Dash says (in essence) it’s time for exposition. And Doc agrees.
“A few years ago,” she begins, “the Department of Defense confiscated the fossilized remains of a prehistoric arachnid they found in Afghanistan. They sent the remains to us for further study.”
“So you thawed these things out from a Himalayan glacier,” Dash sneers. Okay, I’m going to stop and look up how close the Himalayas are to Afghanistan.
Okay, they do touch Afghanistan. I’m impressed that Dash knows more than I do. About mountain ranges in Asia, at any rate.
“No,” she says, all actor-y, “nothing so dramatic as that. We just…salvaged some of the mitochondrial DNA from the remains and spliced it into modern spiders.” Dash nods all sarcastic-like. “A few years of tinkering with genetic switches gave us those creatures crawling around out there.”
“So let me guess,” Dash begins. “You guys are planning on using these things as some kind of new fancy biological weapons system, am I right?”
“No,” Doc purrs. “Our experiments were always geared toward defensive purposes. Spider silk is an amazing material. With unlimited industrial uses. It’s stronger than steel, lighter than composites with incredible elasticity. We were building bullet-proof armor. Non-lethal weapons.”
And on that note, we cut back to the school bus where Black Widow has started spinning webs over the windows.
But enough of that. Back to Doc, and her excuses. “The problem had always been getting enough silk to work with.”
“So you just…grew ‘em bigger to get more webs!” Dash says all sarcastic-like.
“…Yeah,” Doc admits. “We force-fed them hormones and steroids and high-caloric food. And grew them bigger than genetic manipulation alone ever could. Kind of like doping up athletes to win races.”
Well, Dash (who has been picking up a spool of wire) doesn’t like this talk of steroids and so forth, and says, “Giant spiders with roid rage. That’s a nice experiment, Doc. You know, most scientists, they just play around with mice.”
“We took precautions!” Doc protests. “Dash, the lab was put up here on purpose! Spiders are highly susceptible to cold temperatures, so this was the perfect spot to contain them.”
“Uh huh, well, that seemed to work out real well,” Dash opines. “Did you guys ever think about what might happen if it started to warm up? And how many of these things are up here, anyway?”
“Six,” Doc says. Oh, good, so there’s one we haven’t seen yet. Maybe it’ll be blue! That would be pretty cool I must say, and that’s no lie.
Well, I got bad news and I got good news. The bad news is, we’re only an hour into this. The good news is, this was a Sci Fi Channel original film as noted earlier, rather than a theatrical film, so we have less than half an hour to go. Whew! Had this been released by, say, Sony, we’d probably be looking at a quarter of the total running time…before it got expanded to a trilogy.
So, anyway, where were we? Doc was explaining how they did all this so they could study spider silk. And we cut to the school bus, all covered in webs. Owner Guy and the Kids (hey, there’s a band name) discuss how they can “take this thing” because they’re “smarter than it is.” It jumps at the window and scares them. It smears some green goo on the window then drops down where it can’t be seen.
“I think it’s getting bored,” Owner Guy suggests, and man the spider is not the only one.
We cut to three spiders milling around the lodge somewhat aimlessly. Guess they’re bored too. Inside, Dash asks Doc if they have any weaknesses, and Doc says they have the dominant traits of the six types of spider DNA they were fooling with. She names the various species and some of their traits (Black Widow: hides; Spitting Spider: unique web, “Dorian”: aggressive—he’s a jumping spider.)
Dash interrupts: “You guys actually have pet names for these things?”
Man, Doc gives him a LOOK like he just said she could stand to lose a few pounds. She says, anyway, that the creatures out there aren’t what she set out to breed so their traits may not make any difference anyway. Hey, don’t be modest, Doc, we got a couple minutes of running time out of that. “They weren’t supposed to get that big,” she says with a voice and gesture as one would use when talking about a housebroken puppy’s “accident” in the living room. She takes a long time to say that Scientist accelerated the growth factors without her knowledge.
Dash wonders why, and Doc suggests it was money. “The battle for grant dollars is as bloody as war itself!” She disagrees with this goal, though, she tells Dash, “We were already playing God, there was no need to go any further!”
Back to the school bus. Everyone’s being very quiet, and they think the spider has gone. The stupid spider, though, takes that moment to jump up on the window. They all scream.
And we cut back to Dash saying that there’s going to be a cold snap tonight, and the spiders will thus freeze solid. Doc looks doubtful and says that the “cold” outside doesn’t seem to affect them now. She also goes on to note that they need to eat every couple of hours, because they’re ravenous, so after they finish the bodies outside they’ll find a way inside.
Thing is, they didn’t seem to eat much of the other things they killed. Oh well. Dash tries the phone. Guess what? Still dead. They hear a spider and close the door just as a small dark one skitters up and looks under the door. Back at the bus, the Widow is crawling on the roof, and I guess our doomed fools…uh, spoiler alert, maybe…decide they’d like to be attacked and killed and maybe eaten. I’m guessing.
One of them starts having some kind of seizure and everyone panics. Owner Guy says they have to get him out now. And he has an idea!
We cut away from this potentially interesting idea to see that the little dark spider is already bored and skitters away from the room with Doc and Dash. “I think it’s gone, but it might be safer if we stay here for a while,” he says.
She elbows him. “Nice try, Dash.” What the hell? Seriously? They go to the outside door, see a spider eating someone, then turn to see the spider coming up after them. It’s a very pretty brown and white one, maybe the dark one earlier was just badly lit. Doc grabs a fire extinguisher and gives it a good shot and they run away. Maybe they should have just kept spraying it, but what the heck, eh? They run up another stairway. Where the hell are they? It looks like a factory basement.
Back at the bus, Owner Guy opens the front door and the spider reaches in—and Owner Guy forces the door closed, pinning the spider by one foot. The other kids all escape out the back door, with Chad promising Owner Guy they’ll be back for him.
In the lodge, the other survivors look pretty bored. Wow, a common theme in this movie. Some bored guy smashes up a wooden chair and throw a few tiny bits of it on the fire. As he turns away, though, snow ominously comes down the chimney and puts out the fire. Uh oh. He returns, sees the fire is out, tries to light it, and gets his head bitten. His wife screams as Mr. Green comes down the chimney, then Mr. Green gets her.
Dash jumps up with an axe and starts pounding on Mr. Green, but he’s immune to axes it would seem. Doc comes up with the fire extinguisher but it jams or something. Hey Dude shows up with some insecticide and this stuns Mr. Green to the point where Dash can impale the spider using a stuffed moose head. Because, after all, the moose is the spider’s natural enemy. “Race over, ugly,” Dash says, “you lose!”
Then he says, “Hey Doc…nice rack.” Uh, okay. And then the kids from the bus show up, and are let inside. Doc goes into full blown medic mode, and Dash asks about Owner Guy. Chad shakes his head.
And we cut to Owner Guy, who forces the door open…I guess he wants to end it all or something. But who should show up but the army guys! Remember them? Me neither! It’s been a long night! Anyway, they shoot some kind of net thing which ties up Ms. Widow really tight.
Scientist and Chief Army Guy ask Owner Guy what happened and he recaps a bit. He notes that the spiders are “moving and killing” like “nothing I ever saw.” Scientist claims again that it’s impossible…as he strides around in a short sleeved shirt. Uh, well. Everyone is in short sleeves.
Scientist says the “situation” has to be “contained” and they have to capture the other spiders. Owner Guy protests that these “hairy mothers” should be “blown away” instead. Scientist smugly says, “Don’t press your luck. You’re alive.”
And we cut to a snow-covered mountain. I wonder where it’s located? Snark, snark, snark. Scientist and some army guys are watching the spiders around the resort. Scientist notes two of the blighters fighting over a corpse and whispers to himself that it’s “most unfortunate.”
Army Captain contacts the lodge via radio, and Dash basically gives them a bunch of attitude about how they have a wounded kid and not much food and what’s the army gonna do about it, eh? Eh?
“We’re gonna come up with a plan, and be back with you in a minute,” says Captain Army.
“Yeah, we’ll give you a minute, not like we’re going anywhere,” Dash says sarcastically. Um, Dash, you want these folks to rescue your bacon, right? Would it kill you to remember that the real enemies are the spiders?
Unwisely, Scientist takes the microphone and tells the lodge that help is on the way, and Dash is all sarcastic about how he knows that naughty things were happening with the spiders and stuff, and Doc grabs the mic and says, “That’s right, Professor! This is serious! Now, your little midnight snacks to those spiders have got them more worked up that you realize!”
“We don’t have enough men to mount an assault,” says Scientist. He says also, that “If you want our cooperation, then killing [the spiders] is out of the question.” He gets more sarcasm from Dash and Doc and even Hey Dude shakes his head.
Captain Army takes the mic and says they need to get the spiders into a confined area where they can be captured. Doc suggests the lab food, which is like “heroin” to these spiders. Captain Army refrains from noting how that doesn’t answer the question, but Dash mentions the “snowboarding half-pipe.” They agree that Dash will get the spiders there once the army has secured the half-pipe.
Dash asks Doc how to get the spiders to follow him. He’s told he needs “heat, motion and light” and he says he has all three. He hands his keys to Hey Dude and tells him, “This could be the most radical ride of your life. Set up the avalanche cannon; on my signal—fire.”
Hey Dude practically has an epiphany as he takes the keys. “Duude!” he says and they all go off. And next Dash is getting ready to ski off the roof. He’s handed a flare or something and everyone wishes him luck. Even Chad, who we were supposed to want to see eaten because he was an arrogant jerk. Oh well. You can’t have everything. As Dash steps into his skis on the roof, the hair metal starts up and he leaps off, lighting the flare and “woo-hooing.” The spiders turn and run off after him. Hey Dude goes to fire the avalanche cannon.
The skiing footage is pretty good here. One would hope it would be, as I’m sure that was a major factor behind the whole concept.
Elsewhere, the army guys are laying out barrels of “spider food.” Captain Army is singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song, which seems to irk Scientist. The spider food looks like green goop.
Dash is skiing along as another hair metal song starts up. In the distance, we see the spiders following. Dash sails off a ledge to another part of the slope, and the three spiders sail off as well. It actually looks pretty funny, honestly.
Stuff happens while the hair metal plays. Hey Dude snowboards. Dash skis. The army guys set up stuff. The Widow, in her cage, shakes it a bit.
Dash leads the spiders down the corridor, they stop to drink the lovely green goop, and the army guys shot their net guns and capture all three. “There’s no reason to kill them after all, you see!” Scientist says. “Whatever, dude,” Dash says.
Doc shows up in her pink snowsuit. Why? Um, dunno. Scientist is all about how they “validated our design work,” and “helped shave years of research had we had to restart the experiment,” and stuff, and Dash is all indignant about the dead and wounded, and Captain Army says they’ll be taken care of and “debriefed.”
“’Debriefed!’” Dash explodes. “Now there’s a good word! Can you imagine what the press is going to do to this story?”
“The press is not going to know anything about this,” Scientist says, adding, “This is beyond Top Secret. No one knows about this program, and no one ever will.”
Dash asks how they’re going to keep everyone quiet, and Scientist says “by appealing to their sense of patriotism—“
Okay, this film just crossed the line between stupid and offensively stupid. It’s no longer even dumb fun. Why the hell do film-makers feel they need to cast the US in the worst possible light, at every opportunity, even in a totally moronic movie like this one? Because if this movie is on the argument side against the US, that argument just lost about twenty points.
Um, sorry about that, chief.
“We live in dangerous times,” Scientist says, “and we need the cooperation of all of our citizens to protect our way of life.” Yeah, it’s damn fatuous and flimsy. But we cut to Dash so he can be all righteous and stuff. He’s been so helpful all this time anyway, right? Yeah, that was sarcasm.
“Yeah, just like you protected all those people back at the lodge, right? Kind of makes you wonder who the enemy is, doesn’t it?”
Yeah, Dash. Like how you could have run over Mr. Orange easily, in an earlier bit, but you chose not to. And Mr. Orange went on to kill a number of people. Way to go there, Dash. You had the chance to kill one of the spiders, but you drove off instead. With great righteousness comes great responsibility, huh? I guess not for you, though.
He tells the assembled folks that he can, basically, do whatever he wants and they should all duck. And he whistles and signals for Hey Dude.
Well, Hey Dude shoots off some kind of, um, telescope which makes things explode right where the captured spiders are. Wow, Dash, that is pretty insightful planning.
“Take that army dudes! We don’t need you to kick spider butt!”
I guess they fired some kind of mortar which killed all the netted spiders. It’s not too clear. (Ms. Widow is still around, though. She rattles her cage to let us know.)
Scientist is really mad, saying that Captain Army should arrest Dash and maybe even shoot him. Well, Doc says she should be arrested too. And Owner Guy is standing there, I’m betting he’ll join in as well.
Well, I guess I lose that bet, as Doc says she’s not going to help cover up the deaths of about 30 people. And Scientist gets a good speech here, how he saw the deaths of ten times that number on the battlefield, and he vowed to find a way to stop that.
Well, this cuts no mustard with anyone, so Scientist insists that Dash and Doc be arrested, and he grabs Captain Army’s gun, but in the struggle that ensues he slides down the half-pipe and—you’ll never guess!—one of the spiders has apparently not only survived Hey Dude’s attack, but also wriggled free of the netting. And this spider bites Scientist in the neck, until the army guys shoot it dead. Everyone reflects for a bit
Then Dash grabs the dropped gun and runs off to kill the Black Widow, but a bunch of guys in black suits show up to spirit her away before he can. And then some guy in a cowboy hat—damn, that is subtle—shows up and looks after the departing Black Widow. “Who in the heck are you, and just where do you think you’re taking that thing?” Dash asks, pointing at the departing Black Widow.
“That’s none of your business, Mr. Dashiel,” says Cowboy Hat.
“I think that it is my business,” Dash counters, drawing his gun.
"Lot of people died up here today,” Cowboy Hat says. “Be a shame to have you folks join ‘em.” Wow, that's sure subtle!
Dash puts away his gun. “Okay. All right, that’s cool. What’re you gonna do with the wounded?”
“Ambulances are on the way to take care of Dr. Marks’ [Scientist] chemical spill.” As Dash grins and shakes his head, Cowboy Hat goes on. “I understand he was experimenting with a lot of powerful and illegal hallucinogens. Those poor people at the resort probably thought they saw all kinds of things today.”
Dash laughs. “You people have an answer for everything, don’t you?”
Cowboy Hat: “Somebody has to.” And he gets back into his snow-terrain-vehicle thing and drives off. And we get more hair metal as Dash shrugs and throws his hands out
And Doc and Owner Guy and Chad and “the rest” tell Dash about how great he was on the slopes and things. “I guess I can still ‘rip,’ huh?” Dash asks. “Why, one of you punks wanna race?” he asks, and they all demur.
“What, is skiing all you ever think about?” asks Doc.
“What else is there?” asks Dash.
Chad opens his trap, but Doc gets in, “I could tell you, sometime over dinner.”
“Only if you let me show you my scars,” Dash says. Doc laughs, and she and Dash walk off through the snow, arms about each other. And as the hair metal gets louder, we get our credits.
Production Consultant: Fred Olen Ray. Man, that can’t be good. Also, the one song credited is by N.G. Ives and “P.Muldoon” and performed by Pat Muldoon & the Sleeping Masses. Oh man. That sure sounds like a bad starting point.
It'd be nice to say something positive about this. Some of the spider effects were okay, and Patrick Muldoon can act a bit. But really, this was a time-filler. Sci Fi network needed something to fill a movie slot, so they went out and shot some footage and then broadcast it. Some of the skiing was okay, too. But really, how brain-dead can a movie be without offering something more than a warm mush of cliches? The most entertaining part of writing this review was the fact that I had to go back in and clean up the HTML code. You see, every time I typed "Chad" Front Page decided what I meant was the country in Africa. So there were all these weird little spaces around the name. That was curious, and intriguing. Moreso than this movie. The only thing I wondered about this movie was "Why? Why'd they make this?"
answer I could come up with was "To waste your time while you watched
it." So consider my time wasted on your behalf. You're