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Big Ass Spider! (Blu-ray Review)

big ass spider whysoblu thumbI tend to be happy with embracing a film that not only has a goofy premise, but grabs it by the horns in its title alone.  Big Ass Spider! does this well in both title form and actual execution.  While we have seen our share of Sharknados and Mega Piranhas debuting on the SyFy channel in recent years, Big Ass Spider! was able to move beyond the realm of cable TV and screen at the SXSW Film Festival, before its limited release in theaters and on VOD.  It even managed to receive genuine support from critics, as the movie proved to be exactly what it promised in a very good way.  I can now also extend similar praise, as Big Ass Spider! may not be a mega-budgeted blockbuster, but it looks very good for what it is and is also a whole lot of fun.

Film:

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The plot is incredibly simple.  An exterminator, Alex (Greg Grunberg) and a hospital security guard, Jose (Lombardo Boyar), take it upon themselves to rid Los Angeles of a giant, rampaging spider.  This spider is likely the result of a military experiment gone wrong, which leads to a major (Ray Wise), his Lieutenant (Clare Kramer), and other military personnel stepping onto the scene and attempting to do their best to keep this thing at bay.  Unwanted by the military, Alex and Jose may not be the most qualified, but defy orders to stay back and do their best to squash this big bug.

I have to say I was a little worried when it actually came down to sitting back and watching this film.  I was basically set on seeing this film because of the title alone, but was somewhat comforted by the fact that it did have a lot of good buzz.  That said, anticipation can be a killer if the film does not deliver and the prospect of actually seeing the movie called Big Ass Spider! could have really deflated my mood for some time if the movie did not deliver.  I was so relieved that it only took the first couple minutes to set my mind at ease.

Director Mike Mendez and writer Gregory Gieras certainly knew exactly what kind of film they wanted to make, but even that kind of confidence can only go so far if the right people are not involved.  I am not sure what the vibe was in making this film, but compared to other drive-in theater wannabes, Big Ass Spider! found the right balance needed to make a low-budget creature feature really work as it should.  The film does not take itself seriously, but it also does not go out of its way to wink at the camera.  There is a blend of humor and horror in this film that is on par with Tremors, and I mean that in a very good way.

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The performances from everyone involved is about as solid as a film like this needs, with only a few minor hiccups in the form of some unneeded news footage of extras describing how to kick the ass of the big ass spider in question.  Moving past this though, Grunberg is having a lot of fun here, Boyar provides solid support, Ray Wise manages to be just enough fun in this film, without feeling like he had to sink low to be “military leader guy” in a monster movie, and Clare Kramer provides what is needed in the “love interest” role, while holding her own, when the film requires her to do just a bit more.

Moving past my stodgy critic remarks about acting and tonal balance, the real fun of this movie comes down to how well-accomplished Big Ass Spider! is in showing off a big ass spider.  The answer is ‘very’.  Look, this isn’t the next James Cameron action classic, but given the type of film this is, Big Ass Spider! does a great job with the effects on display, as the actual spider looks very good.  The destruction it causes is pretty solid and even if the deaths on display look a bit cheesy, the film really wants to support this aspect of the film enough for you to go along with it.  Given that it is all about having a good time, I was just fine with both the less complicated shots and the city-wide destruction on display.  The added bonus is that the most compelling moments of this monster film all take place during the day time, which is not something that a good number of big-budgeted films even attempt to try.

Again, I was relieved right from the start of this film, as I knew I had found something that was going to be a lot of fun.  The film opens with a pretty great sequence that sets everything up from the beginning, with nothing but anticipation for what will come in the next 80 minutes or so.  Sure, this is a “Z-grade creature feature”, but it accomplishes a lot with what it has to work with and I found it to be very entertaining and effective.  Grab a bunch of friends and have a lot of laughs with Big Ass Spider!

Video:

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Big Ass Spider! hits Blu-ray with a pretty solid 1080p AVC-encoded image transfer, which does a fine job at presenting the look of this film.  Given that this is a low-budget film, the film will basically look about just as good as it was shot and so it certainly helps that the cinematography is actually quite good here.  While the special effects always look like effects, the quality of this transfer does not betray how involved they are, as the work done at shooting this film makes for a film that doesn’t feel inauthentic for what it is trying to do.  This is quite apparent in the wide shots especially and only when the film hits some darkly lit scenes does this disc’s video transfer not quite hold up as strong.

Audio:

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The 5.1 Dolby True HD sound mix does a great job at really delivering on the all the madness to be found in the sound of this film.  Sound effects register clearly, the dialogue is all very clear, all the spider action is loud and clear, and when the film wants to dive in with some occasional soundtrack/score choices, it is all just as well balanced.  Again, given that this is a low-budget feature, the sounds of a rampaging spider (and the jets soaring through the skies) are about as good as they can get, which is very good, as far as this Blu-ray is concerned.  No subtitle options, by the way.

Extras:

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Good thing I double-checked this Blu-ray, as I almost looked past the fact that there is a commentary, despite it not being completely clear on the box and being found in the audio options section of the menu.  Because of that, the score is raised immensely for this disc.

Features Include:

Commentary – Described on the box as “Stars Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar Tell Director Mike Mendez How They Really Feel About Him”, this commentary track is a blast, as the guys are all really into talking about the making of the film, while also having a lot of fun making jokes, pointing out digital moments, and basically making for a nice complimentary experience with the film by itself. (Note: Lots of foul language on this track)

SXSW Featurette: Big Ass Spider! Premiere – A look at the lead up to the premiere of the film at SXSW, with a mix of crowd footage and an introduction by its director.

Interviews – Way too brief, but a very basic video featuring the cast members briefly summing up their excitement for making the film.

Trailers and TV Spots

Summary:

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I am not about to say that Big Ass Spider! is guaranteed to be a great time for you, even if you are intrigued by the title alone, but I will say that it is much better than a lot of movies that could be considered similar.  The movie is what it is, but it looks great, there are some fun performances here, and if ever there was a need for a modern drive-in-type film, fitting for a group of friends in the right mood – Big Ass Spider! is where it’s at.  The Blu-ray is solid as well, with a nice technical presentation, accompanied by a commentary track that makes up for the lack of more substantial extras (which I wasn’t expecting anyway).  The movie delivered for me, check it out if you are as strangely compelled as I was.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “Big Ass Spider! (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Dammit.
    Your review actually makes me kind of want to check it out!

  2. Brandon Peters

    Why wouldn’t you want to check it out?