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Earth Vs. The Spider Earth vs. the Spider on DVD

Another of Columbia Tristar's Creature Features, this ripping yarn is kind of "Spiderman meets the Fly," with a little bit of Alien thrown in at the end, and is a wonderful guilty pleasure.

Devon Gummersall stars as Quentin Kemmer, the sort of comic book aficionado and all round geek that many of this movie's viewers will be able to identify with. He's a security guard and small time loser, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the biotech lab he helps guard is broken into and the people there, including his friend and work partner, are gunned down in cold blood.

There wasn't really anything Quentin could have done, but it looks bad and he's denigrated by the police for supposed incompetence, leaving him psychologically shattered and determined that, next time, he'll be unstoppable.

Happily for him (at least at first), the lab did experiments on spiders so, in keeping with his love for "The Arachnid Avenger" of comic book fame (named such, perhaps, to avoid a messy legal fight over the use of "Spiderman"), he injects himself with a serum laced with spider DNA.

This is where "The Fly" analogies come into play, particularly the David Cronenburg version. Quentin starts changing.

At first, the changes seem positive, giving him heightened abilities that help him do a nice little bit of crime fighting. But of course the longer the stuff stays in his system (and it's there to stay!), the more he changes. He learns to spin webs, which is pretty gross but niftily done - and gradually he starts to become more spider (sorry, "arachnid," in case there are any Marvel comics lawyers reading this!) than man.

And he develops these hungers…

Dan Aykroyd co-stars as a police officer Jack Grillo, another supposed loser who (thanks to the lab break-in and, later, Quentin) gets a chance for redemption. Also along for the ride are Amelia Heinle as the girl next door to Quentin and Theresa Russell as Jack's slutty shrew of a wife.

It's neat ride, with a screenplay that, even though you know exactly what's going to happen (it's a Creature Feature, after all), still spins a nicely dramatic web populated by three dimensional characters and with just enough chills (without being excessively gross) to keep fans of such movies more than happy.

This is another title from Samuel Z. Arkoff and Stan Winston and it's a classic horror movie fan's dream come true. These are "old fashioned" creature features done in the classic sense, but with modern production values and special effects that are as state-of-the-art as the films' relatively low budgets allow.

The low budget actually enhances these packages. These are not Big Slick Hollywood productions. Rather they appear more like labors of love from people who are obviously paying homage to the movies on which they grew up and cut their teeth.

The DVD is well produced, too. Columbia Tristar presents it offering both an anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) version and a Pan&Scan version on the same side of the disc. The picture quality is very good, with nice resolution and color - and just enough deep shadows to keep your hair standing on end. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and the sound quality is for the most part excellent, though we thought they could have turned down the bass a bit; our walls were rattling at a volume level at which most DVD's would merely be humming along nicely.

Extras include a "making of" featurette, photo gallery, filmographies and trailers.

A delicious disc.

Earth Vs. the Spider, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
90 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible/Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Devon Gummersall, Dan Aykroyd, Amelia Heinle
Produced by Lou Arkoff, Stan Winston, Colleen Camp
Written by Gary Solomon & Chuck Kunzelman and Max Enscoe & Annie de Young, Directed by Scott Ziehl.


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Updated May 13, 2006