We'll start with a long prologue, about 12 minutes' worth, set in exotic and rocky locales and introducing us to our film's primary villain, the big-ass spider of the Amazon. A team of entomologists are gathering rare fauna by gassing them with poisonous vapors and packing away their multicolored corpses into these giant ashtray-type tubes.
But those tubes won't hold the last corpse, the human-sized corpse of a photographer who is bitten to death by a spider. The spider hitches a ride to a town in the States, where a new doctor is just settling in and having rib-tickling run-ins with the quirky locals. Watch for John (CHUD) Goodman as a funny fat guy.
ARACHNOPHOBIA is that kind of movie, one that often shoves horror elements to the back of the room so that small-town comedy can hog the spotlight. It's a very latter Spielbergian kind of movie, consumed with the interplay of a doctor and his nuclear family and sometimes only secondarily with an infestation of exceedingly venomous spiders.
Spiders, even big ones, don't really scare me that much, so I'm probably not best qualified to praise the joys of ARACHNOPHOBIA. Even so, it feels like the movie often misses out on how lithe and good at hiding spiders can be. Too often, they basically just show up en masse. Sure, they creep into popcorn bowls and shoes, but rarely emerge from cracks or corners.
Sometimes ARACHNOPHOBIA throws us a disquieting image, but mostly this is pretty safe and unthreatening lite-90s horror. Amblin produced it and, naturally, its tempo is mostly ambling, pleasant and never bothering to jar you or stick in your brain. Nothing objectionable, but not much worth celebrating either.