by Jason Coffman
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Today is a good day for Roger Corman fans, with the release of the documentary Corman’s World (see Jef Burnham’s review here) coinciding with the release of Corman’s latest low-budget epic Camel Spiders. Produced by Corman for the Syfy Network, Camel Spiders is the latest in a line of low-budget original creature features made for airing on the cable channel, and is again directed by Corman veteran Jim Wynorski (inexplicably under the name “Jay Andrews”). B-movie fans should know what to expect going in, and although this is a little more tame than Wynorski’s non-cable work, Camel Spiders delivers a good time, provided you’re willing to check your brain and/or standards at the door.
Brian Krause stars as Captain Mike Sturges, introduced in the midst of a tense gunfight in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. Just before all the enemy shooters suddenly disappear— dragged off or immediately eaten by huge “Camel Spiders,”— Sturges takes a bullet to the leg and one of his men is hit in the head. Sturges finds himself on a plane home to deliver the bad news and the corpse to the man’s family, but before the body was bagged up a few small spiders climbed into his mouth. When a freak accident knocks the body out of the truck being driven by Sgt. Shelley Underwood (Rocky DeMarco), the spiders escape and begin to multiply extremely rapidly.
From this point, Camel Spiders is all about setting up victims for the spiders to knock out as quickly as possible. A group of college students on a field study watch their professor approach a dog-sized spider with predictable results before they hole up in an abandoned house in hopes of outsmarting the spiders. Capt. Sturges is at a diner with local Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) when the spiders storm the place, and Sgt. Underwood brings the truck to get as many people out of the crowded diner and out to safety as possible. These folks end up hiding inside the offices of an old mine, where they have to fend off the spiders and contact the military for help.
Camel Spiders is dumb fun, with some spectacularly unconvincing computer effects that extend beyond the spiders themselves to completely ridiculous helicopters and fighter jets. The cast is decent and they all look like they’re having a good time, and picking the next victim of the spiders is never too tough, but it’s generally pretty satisfying. Wynorski keeps the action moving at a decent clip, and the whole thing’s over in just over 80 minutes. It’s not a game-changing masterpiece or anything, but Camel Spiders is proof that Corman’s approach to low-budget filmmaking is still capable of turning out fun stuff.
Anchor Bay released Camel Spiders on DVD and Blu-ray on 27 March 2012.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and is a regular contributor to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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