If the incredibly overt title wasn’t enough to set the tone for you, this nostalgic creature feature opens with our unlikely hero marching through chaos and destruction towards a colossal arachnid, all while a beautiful ballad plays in the background.
So goes this straightforward, entertainingly absurd piece of horror-comedy that is certainly in a class well above some of televised sci-fi fare of the same genre. Our titled black widow is not joining up with a natural disaster, it is not facing off against a massive killer wasp, and it has not been genetically spliced with a bald eagle (next month on Syfy: Spider Eagle vs. WaspQuake).
As one might expect, a secret military project has been misplaced and gone out of control. It’s a mutated black widow, an initially small one holed up inside a corpse that has found its way to a Los Angeles hospital, where a folksy and prideful exterminator is being tended. He is Alex (an especially funny and loveable Greg Grunberg), and while the spider that bite him on the job isn’t deadly, the one down the hallway is – it just hatched out of a guy’s stomach and then killed an elderly man.
And it grows! The military arrives too late; there is the no-nonsense Major (Ray Wise) his sexy, uniformed Lieutenant (Clare Kramer), and a cooky scientist channeling Christopher Lloyd who really should be a Spider Whisperer, but isn’t. They tell Alex they will take over and they can handle this; of course they can’t. Headstrong as he is, and with a newfound partner in minority hospital security guard Jose, Alex decides he can take care of this rapidly escalating problem.
With better special effects that you might think, the black widow wreaks havoc and brings death to southern California, as an afternoon in the park turns bloody, especially for the scantily clad volleyball coeds (right, of course they’re playing in next to nothing).
That’s the most sexually gratuitous the film gets, and even the blood and gore have a tepid cartoonish feel, which is appropriately satisfying. It’s some endless, simple pleasures, with a comically buddy-cop aspect as well. Overall, it’s a reminder that there are ways to do these B-movie comedic, gory creature flicks; you need the silly title, but you need some more to it. Big Ass Spider works the formula.