Okay, I was bored, annoyed and in the mood for something stupid to waste about an hour and a half or so. That sort of opening line is usually reserved for someone confessing to a crime of some sort. But it was my excuse for sitting down last night to watch Camel Spiders, a 2011 direct to video “B” flick so laughable and intentionally awful that it made me forget about most of the stuff bugging me.
Initially, just seeing the title made me laugh enough to want to check it out and see if it was as cheesy as it sounded. But it wasn’t until about 2/3 of the way in that I remembered that “Camel Spiders” are real, really large and have a somewhat larger following. Well, I’m sure those so-called fans would run the other way (and right into a wall) if they came across one or more of these eight-legged freaks in real life. Unlike too many of the victims in this dopey film who just stand there and get attacked or approach those puppy-sized pests with curiosity that just gets them killed off quickly…
Director Jim Wynorski (who seems to be quite good at making some quite bad films), using the alias “Jay Andrews” gets low mileage and lots of yelling and screaming from his eager actors (a mixed bag of ‘Casting Horror Flicks 101’ types), many of whom get offed as the film progresses. The film kicks off somewhere in the Middle East where the titular threats are first encountered as a handful of US soldiers face off against some generically dressed and ethnically vague terrorist types. Some baby spiders enter the mouth of a dead soldier and his body is transported back to the US, meaning there’s going to be trouble on the home front soon enough. When the truck transporting the body is involved in a wreck with another car (being chased by the police, no less!), those spiders escape and escalating illogical havoc ensues rather quickly.
As you’ve probably guessed (and correctly at that, dear readers), this isn’t at all a film were it pays to pay attention to the fine details. The spider threat spreads far too fast to make any sense at all unless you conclude that the dead soldier’s bugs are only adding to the thousands of Camel Spiders already in the area. That’s the ONLY way to explain how widespread the infestation gets within a few minutes of running time where spiders are popping up across whatever state the film takes place in. It’s never clear other than it’s a possible Southwestern state with a cowboy hat wearing sheriff (C. Thomas Howell!) a big desert and highway running through it. That state probably also has weird climate thanks to some actors showing up in summer wear while others wear fall or winter jackets. I guess that’s what happens when you have no wardrobe budget and ask your cast to wear what they feel like. Wait, I’m trying to make sense of this film… (slap!) Ouch. That’s better! Now, where was I?
The film splits into a few subplots away from the two soldiers who transported the body (Brian Krause, Melissa Brasselle) and the pack of people they meet in a diner who become their sudden traveling companions after the place is invaded to two other groups. There’s the small group of young lovers who head out to the desert for some fun that get a spidery surprise and a class trip of too old to be teenagers playing teenagers who run for the hills after their old, dumb teacher buys the farm. You pretty much know who’s going to get it good, but at least
Wynorski, er “Andrews” throws a few curve balls in to shake things up. Those sidetracks the story takes make you think some of those “kids” will be heroic survivors who help end the arachnid threat. But, nope. They’re as dumb and clueless as “teens” in any horror flick and help keep the body count up.
The film excels at pacing out its action scenes (which aren’t very good, but there’s a lot of shooting and splatting spiders) with loads of CG effects that aren’t going to win any awards, but may impress kids or easily impressed “B” movie fans. There’s fun to be had in the incredulity of it all, but even trying for a whisper of a moment to take anything you see seriously is bad for the brain cells. If you watch a lot of these Roger Corman executive produced flicks, you know the drill by heart. Lots of nonsensical dialog, no good explanation for some of the dumb stuff (cell phones apparently don’t exist in this film’s world or at least they don’t come out unless someone needs to NOT get a signal), gunplay galore and a big explosion near the climax. All those bullet points are here with the bonus of no sexy-time antics for the kids to get their eyes covered up. Of course, this is a film where if you’re a character even thinking of getting it on, you get bumped off before any clothing is removed because it keeps the plot rolling along.
There’s a kooky “twist” at the end that like some other scenes from the film, seem taken from another movie. But again, this isn’t a film that stands up to any sort of scrutiny thanks to the need to whisk viewers through it’s horror tunnel antics and hit them with those “scary” spiders leaping around and doing their thing. At the end of the day, Camel Spiders isn’t on the same planet quality wise as THEM! and dreckier oldies such as The Deadly Mantis or even The Giant Spider Invasion could be seen as “superior” efforts. Then again, when you go Wynorski on a regular basis, you know exactly what you’re getting. If that’s all right with you, you’re getting what you deserve and then some.