Scarlett Johansson as Ashley Parker
Directed by Ellory Elkayem
Written by Ellory Elkayem & Randy Kornfield
Release Year 2002
Genre Action/Comedy/Horror
MPAA Rating PG-13

Nothing ever happens in the small town Prosperity, Arizona. Only crazy Harlan Griffith sends something like a local radio from his trailer and warns the people of conspiracies against the population made either from the government or aliens etc. Sheriff in town is Sam Parker, divorced and mother of 2 children: Ashley and Mike. She’s annoyed with little Mike because he always visits the outsider Joshua and his spiderfarm nearby. Ashley’s in trouble because she hangs out with Bret and his friends on motorbikes. Then Chris McCormick returns after a 10-year long absence. He had disappeared because he had been secretly in love with Sam and had found out that her husband was betraying her, so he had broken his nose and left. But other than that, nothing happens.
A tired truck driver – transporting dangerous poison materials – hits a little rabbit and loses some barrels, which fall into a pond. Later Joshua finds rapid growing crickets and feeds them to his exotic spiders. They too grow faster and Joshua is fascinated by that. Until they break out of their cages… But the only one who could have known, Mike, isn’t allowed (and able) to visit him, so nobody knows anything about the looming danger. A few days later, an extraordinary number of pets is disappearing. Nobody can explain the mistery.
Ashley is once again together with Bret – kissing him in the front of his car. But when he feels her up, she resists him in a very special way… After that she drives away and leaves Bret alone. He becomes the first witness of the gigantic spiders and flees on his motorbike. Some spiders have now reached town and one attacks Ashley in her room. Now Sam, Chris and a few others realise how dangerous their situation is. But, how should they warn the population when the telephone masts are destroyed? And where should the town flee from the spiders? Soon a chase through the whole town begins. Is there a way out?

The film resembles B-movies from the 50s and 60s. The dialogues are very funny and even when they are not that funny, the actors/actresses deliver them in a funny way. That is what makes the film good – and the reason why even I liked it, who usually doesn’t watch this kind of film. It is really entertaining, even though the end is predictable.

Scarlett Johansson’s Role

Scarlett plays Ashley Parker the about 16 year old daughter of Sam Parker. The two of them have a typical mother-daughter-conflict. Nothing too serious, but still not very good. Ashley hates the way her mother is always telling her what to do. She knows herself what she’s doing. But despite that she’s glad that her mother gave her something to use in an emergency, it’s also of some use on the run from the spiders.
In this film Scarlett can’t show her acting skills like in The Horse Whisperer or Ghost World but she plays the teenage daughter as well as it’s possible – and looks beautiful. The scenes in which she’s frightened and attacked by a spider are very believable. To portray that fear must have been difficult for Scarlett because while shooting it, there was nothing dangerous. Scarlett finds throughout the film the right balance in her performance and never seems to be too hysteric or unrealistic.

Other Cast

… David Arquette
… Kari Wuhrer
… Scott Terra
… Doug E. Doug
… Rick Overton

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Trivia & Facts

• The original title was “Arac-Attack” but producers changed it weeks before release because there were growing fears of America going into Iraq and the title sounded too much like “Iraq-Attack” and might give the idea that the nation of Iraq was overflowing with massive spiders or that the film was about a war in the desert.

Quotes: Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett on her role: “I play this sort of sarcastic teenager, you know, the teenager that’s like “AHHH, A SPIDER,” and “OH, SPIDER GUTS!” I like to play all kinds of roles and I always joke with Dean and say, “this is a big jump from The Horse Whisperer,” and he’d say, “Oh yeah, but this is just as hard.” It is quite challenging to run from something that’s not there. Like why would I feel if this giant spider were like coming at my face? What kind of reaction is that? You have a PA in the back saying “grrrrrr,” and he has a sandwich in one hand and he’s coming at you.”

Scarlett on what she does in the film: “I Scream a lot. Scream and run. And be a sarcastic teenager. I’m a pretty good screamer. I’m good at being a sarcastic teenager. But the whole running thing. I just don’t like running.”

Scarlett on the title ‘Eight Legged Freaks’: “I think the good part about it is that it portrays the film the way it is, which is very campy but also scary and gross. I mean, there’s a lot of spider guts and bodies decaying, things like that…but all in this campy kind of way. I think that’s the great thing about Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, who produced it. They did Godzilla, Independence Day and The Patriot. When you take a film like Godzilla, it’s kind of a funny thing, but it’s also scary because you see it and you’re like “Oh my God, what would I do in that situation?” So that’s kind of how I feel about it, I am excited for it to come out.”

Scarlett on the title ‘Arac Attack’ (the previous title): “Haha! That’s so funny! I mean I’m sorry but maybe it’s a little politically incorrect to laugh at but I think that it’s a funny thing because people used to ask me when I first got the project like, “Iraq Attack? Oh my God, what is that about? Do you play a refugee?” and I’m like, “No. ARAC, like ARACHNID.” I always thought that was so funny and now they actually had to change it.”

Scarlett on David Arquette: “He’s great! He’s such a nice guy. He’s like a kid, you know? He’d like play video games and order chicken wings to the set and hang out. He’s a very nice guy and he has such great timing. He’s so out there, it’s just hysterical.”

Scarlett on Kari Wuhrer: “Kari is closer to my age than most of the people who have played my mom. It makes a difference. People would say, “That’s your mom? You look like you’re sisters.” Who’s the one who is supposed to make out with David Arquette here? She has one scene where she’s very stern and I have one where I’m a little rebellious. For the rest of the film it’s all about the spiders. We always had a good time. We could have girlie talks, more about being two women than a mother/daughter.”

Dean Devlin (Producer): “Johansson knows to portray Ashley with just the right amount of seriousness and sympathie. These characteristics crucially contribute to knocking our hearts really up to the neck when she gets in danger.”

Quotes: Her Character

• ” I’m not gonna stay here for the rest of my life and be a trailer trash sheriff!”

• “I don’t think it was Pete.”

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