Arachnophobia (1990)

arachnophobia poster 1990 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

A fun ride

Sometimes goes too far with the comedy aspect

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Arachnophobia

Studio:  Hollywood Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Horror

Release Date(s):  July 18, 1990

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Hi little spider!

Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) has moved his wife Molly (Harley Jane Kozak) and children Tommy and Shelly (Garette Ratliff Henson and Marlene Katz) to the countryside to take over a local doctor’s family practice, but things aren’t going as he hoped.  Dr. Metcalf (Henry Jones) has decided to stay on and is second guessing any of Jennings’ methods.  When mysterious deaths begin popping up, Jennings gets the nickname of Doctor Death.  The deaths however aren’t just random…they all are tied to a small hybrid spider bred from a common spider and an escapee from a South American expedition.  Now, Jennings, the town exterminator Delbert McClintock (John Goodman), and a spider expert Dr. James Atherton (Julian Sands) must stop the spiders before they spread…but Jennings’ paralyzing arachnophobia could pose a problem with this.


What I’d give for a newspaper!!!

Arachnophobia was the first film directed by Frank Marshall and was a surprise breakout hit.  The movie was originally intended to be complete horror with a feel like The Birds, but test audience reaction led to a change to be marketed as a horror comedy.  The film is also the first release from Hollywood Pictures.

I saw Arachnophobia in the theater and despite not having a real fear of spiders, I can remember jumping throughout the movie.  The movie manages to pull off these scares while still being fun…something that is often challenging.  Arachnophobia still has some great jumps but now feels a bit goofier than I remember it.


Maybe I shouldn’t use “Spider Shampoo”

Arachnophobia’s script works.  It has a great balance of laughs and scares.  I don’t love that the film feels the need to pump up the laughs with goofy music (like John Goodman’s exterminator theme music).  The movie just gets to the edge of being annoying with no one believing Jennings, but the movie pumps it back up when Sands character returns and the hunt for the spider begins.

The move has a nice cast with Daniels and the Holly Hunter-esque Harley Jane Kozak as the leading couple.  Goodman plays the real comic relief as the know-it-all exterminator and Sands is the spider expert (who acts like an idiot when he is confronted by a real spider).  The character actors that inhabit the town are also fun with Henry Jones as the jerky doctor,  Stuart Pankin as the standoffish sheriff, Roy Brocksmith as the Wheel of Fortune loving coroner, the gung-ho coach Peter Jason, and Mary Carver as the only one willing to give Jennings a chance.


Spider sex…Hot!!!

The pre-everything computer animated film looks quite good with real spiders used for many scenes.  Some of the scenes near the end with tons of spiders look a bit weak since it seems like they are fake spiders on the walls.

Arachnophobia was a fun film when it was released and still a fun film today.  It is a horror comedy (more comedy than horror), but it knows how to get a good jump and a nervous laugh.  I am glad that the movie hasn’t been remade and never had a sequel pumped out, but in the age of non-original plots, Arachnophobia could creep again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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