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Casting Cleaver

Patient: Eight Legged Freaks

Profile: Despite its title, Eight Legged Freaks is not the long-awaited Mamas and Papas biopic. It is a moderately entertaining monster pic that suffers from telegraphing every twist so that no matter what the problem, you know everything has been scripted for the production's Idiot Star to succeed. Think Arachnophobia meets Dumb and Dumber meets Tremors meets Wake Me When I'm President: The George W. Bush Story.Symptoms: Stiff dialogue and transparent plotting make the toxic mutants, which intermittently sound like golden retrievers and gerbils, only kindascary in comparison to the truly frightening monsters born of Alien or Dick Cheney's mother. The way-too-long hour it takes for the film to not only set up how the spiders got huge but also showcase the dysfunctional family, the crooked mayor, the paranoid radio guy and the return of the Prodigal Son just pisses off an audience that paid nine bucks to see really big killer spiders. Really, it's just annoying. Which brings us to the casting of David Arquette—he of those brain-curdling collect-call commercials and marriage to Courteney Cox that is an affront to nature—as the sullen, returning rebel lead. It's impossible to think of Arquette–the thinking man's Carrot Top—as strong or silent or as a person who can save a town. Apparently aware of this, the movie's writers revert to hellish—literally—devices, in that every other sentence becomes "What the hell?" Or, "What the hell are you talking about?" Or, "What the hell is that?" Or, "Why the hell would a compassionate God allow David Arquette to couple with Courteney Cox?"
Script Doctor Diagnosis: Hell is other people . . . if they are David Arquette. Prescription: You've got a horror film with very little suspense. Not good. You need to shake things up, throw a few unexpected curves. I suggest taking a cue from the enormously popular Scream—which also featured Arquette. Scream was brilliant in bursting its audience's conditioned expectations early on by killing off a main character—and big star. After that, the audience didn't know what it could trust or believe. Everything was up for grabs; anything could happen. That builds tension, suspense. You need to come at it that way. Do something unexpected. Me? I would kill David Arquette. Push him off a tall building, have a telephone pole crush his skull while he's dialing a collect call, perhaps have really small spiders climb into his various orifices, lay their mutant eggs and cause a slow, painful death commiserate to the pass in life he has been afforded by a God who mocks decent people's efforts. Yes, I would certainly kill David Arquette—the sooner, the better. As for your movie, well, maybe you could have something odd happen to David Arquette's character. I don't know. Frankly, I lost interest after my Kill David Arquette epiphany.


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