As much as I love a good B-movie, the overabundance is a little overwhelming. With the SyFy channel to blame for most of this — Sharknado, Sharktopus, and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus — but most of them take themselves too seriously to be as fun as they think they are, and only as dumb as they really are. Tremors is probably the last true classic of the genre, with the film’s tongue planted firmly in cheek. Now, a new creature has crawled out of the SXSW Film Festival to take over the reins in the form of Big Ass Spider!, making its Blu-ray debut on January 7.
The opening scene immediately sets the tone for what’s to come as blue-collar Western Exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) awakens amidst panic in the streets of Los Angeles while the big ass spider is wreaking havoc. Cutting to 12 hours earlier we find out how it all started as a body is brought into a hospital’s morgue where the arachnid has been feeding off the deceased. Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise), Lieutenant Karly Bryant (Clare Kramer), and Professor Exposition, err, Lucas (Patrick Bauchau), immediately step in to quarantine the hospital to find the spider who has escaped from a science lab. Now, Alex, along with his self-appointed side kick Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar), must find the big ass spider’s eggs before they hatch and take over the world.
Big Ass Spider! may be the first feature released by Epic Pictures Group, but they deliver their debut Blu-ray release with pretty stellar results. While it may be on a 25GB disc, the cheap visuals and short extras keep the picture looking healthy. Filmed with the Red MX camera, detail is perfect in nearly every shot, with even medium shots delivering every pore, wrinkle, or hair with exact sharpness. One suit worn by the hospital director does come across with a faint shimmer whenever he’s moving around. While it may show how low-budget the film is, it also lends to the winking nature. I never noticed any banding, crush, or noise, but in low lit scenes the blacks take on a more muted look. A 5.1 Dolby True-HD track pits you right in the middle of the action as well with surrounds providing ample ambiance whether its musical cues in the “scary” parts or in the midst of an action sequence with plenty of LFE activity. An optional 2.0 track is available. Oddly, there are no subtitles.
The included extras may not be overwhelming, but are just as fun as the movie. A commentary track titled “Stars Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar Tell Director Mike Mendez How They Really Feel About Him” kicks things off hilariously. The three obviously had a fantastic time recording the track and deliver some side-splitting production stories. Mendez points out his father’s screen debut and they all praise the mystery spider wrangler they hired who works at a McDonald’s. Mendez also thanks Western Exterminator for donating a truck and a suit for Grunberg to wear. “Interviews with the Cast” runs a quick 83 seconds featuring Grunberg, Boyar, and Kramer. “SXSW Featurette” shows us the premiere of the film in Austin with Mendez and Boyar in tow. The theatrical trailer, an international trailer, and a TV spot round things out.
With a film titled Big Ass Spider! it better deliver on its promise, and I promise you that the film is one of the most hilarious films that didn’t get a wide release in 2013. Full of hilarious one-liners and a brilliant performance from Boyar in particular, you’ll laugh from beginning to end. Grunberg is a very likable lead, making the most of his part, and showing he’s more than just another J.J. Abrams crony. Mendez has delivered upon Gregory Gieras’ screenplay and even packs in some great cameos; most noticeably Lloyd Kaufman who knows a thing or two about making these kinds of films. Running a scant 80 minutes, Big Ass Spider! is one big ass comedy that will find repeat viewings in its future and is one blind buy you won’t regret.