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Camel Spiders Blu-ray Review

Camel Spiders Blu-ray cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Camel Spiders

Running Time: 85 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Jay Andrews / Writers: J. Brad Wilke, Jay Andrews / Songs List

Cast: Brian Krause (Captain Sturges), C. Thomas Howell (Sheriff Beaumont), Rocky DeMarco (Sergeant Shelly Underwood), Frankie Cullen (Schwalb), Hayley DeMarco (Hayley), Diana Terranova (Patty), Gigi Erneta (Reba), Michael Swan (McNeil), Kurt Yaeger (Joe), Matt Borlenghi (Brad), Jon Mack (Sharon), Michael Bernardi (Jeff), Corey Landis (Cain), James Lewis (Collins), Hugh Mun (Medic), Gerald Webb (Soldier), Jason Smither (Pilot), Charles Solomon (Jimmy Ray), Jessica Finch (Webbed Girl), Chris Ray (Webbed Man), Kayla Gill (Traci), Shay Baker (Carl), Jessica Cameron (Ashley), Paul Wallace (Eddie), Gerard Pauwels (Professor), Jason Greear (Will), Thomas Dillard (Bubba), Steven Goldenberg (Brent), Paula Labaredas (Wendy), Amber McConnell (Erin), Steve Snyder (Trent), Derrick Hockenbrough (Rick), Damien Puckler (Bork), Karnell Matthews (Cage), Elizabeth Elverson Welch (Drive-In Girl)

1.78:1 Widescreen, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned
Blu-ray Release Date: March 27, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP)

Buy Camel Spiders from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD


Is it possible that Syfy has standards? That might sound crazy to anyone familiar with the cable network's original movies,
but it's the most logical way to explain why Camel Spiders isn't following other recent Roger Corman creature features to a Saturday night basic cable premiere.

By the IMDb's count, this is the 397th title produced by Corman. With a resume that big, it's tough to say how accurate the number is, but if you thought this might be the one with which Corman would break from the cheap, crass playbook he's relied on for over fifty years, then take another look at the cover art above and notice that the film is called Camel Spiders.

Believe it or not, camel spiders are real. They live in the desert and can grow up to a foot. They are not technically spiders. Nor are they deadly. (Imagine that, a Roger Corman movie whose science doesn't check out!) But they are rare enough to have inspired urban legends, fueled largely by a real, shocking photograph of a U.S. soldier holding up two of the big critters in Iraq.

Captain Sturges (Brian Krause) and Sergeant Underwood (Rocky DeMarco) assume leadership roles among the desert diner group. Meanwhile, four "college students" take shelter in a rundown house.

Camel Spiders opens in Iraq, where soldiers are exchanging fire with insurgents, who suddenly and inexplicably retreat. A local military guide figures out the reason: solifugae, a.k.a. wind scorpions, a.k.a. camel spiders. A couple of the large creepy crawlies, which here are ravenous flesheaters, get into the body bag of a U.S. soldier and wind up making the flight over to the States. When a coffin falls out of an armored military truck in a country road crash, the "spiders" emerge and begin wreaking havoc.

The first casualties include a bickering foursome of young adventurers. The spiders then hit up a diner. The two stranded soldiers who were transporting the deceased, Captain Sturges (Brian Krause) and Sergeant Underwood (Rocky DeMarco), and the desert town's respected Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) assume leadership of the diverse group of diners, transporting them to the safest refuge their truck's dwindling gas tank will allow.

The eclectic group stands up to the lethal fast-moving insects with an arsenal of gunfire. The citizens include a couple of unscrupulous real estate developers planning to close the diner, a divorce-bound couple with a young daughter, and a pacifist college student. Meanwhile, a newlywed couple and two of their fellow earth science students take shelter in a vacant, run-down home, armed with determination but no weapons.

When the situation becomes life or death, even a pacifist like Jeff (Michael Bernardi, left) will pick up a gun and start shooting. O hai, camel spider!

Camel Spiders fails the viewer on every level. It is meant to offer mindless thrills and camp value, but it offers none of the former and little of the latter. There is nothing scary or fun about giant spiders running around getting shot at and devouring humans. The characters are mostly unlikable, but not unlikable enough to cheer for their demise. And the threat is never well-defined enough
to believe or establish a compelling defense against.

And, of course, this being a Corman movie, the whole thing appears to have been shot in about a week for something like $20,000. The bugs, the splatters, the helicopters: all CGI and not the good kind that you believe and not the so bad it's good kind where fakeness inspires laughs, but just the cheap, lazy kind, where if the movie doesn't care, then why on Earth should you?

Is there titillation? Not really. There is a lot of bloodshed, but almost all of it is phony, meaningless CGI. The movie is unrated, but I'm not sure the cartoonish gore would need to be toned down with Standards and Practices notes to earn a TV-14 on Syfy. Profanity is used sparingly and includes no words you can't easily hear on network television. Even the scant clothing and blatant ogling that has prominently featured in Corman Syfy movies is non-existent here, though you'll probably be just fine with that. Assuming you've carved out 85 minutes of your life for this film, which isn't much in the average existence, but is far more than this dull, stupid movie deserves.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Anchor Bay's Blu-ray presents Camel Spiders in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound. Both aspects are just fine. The 1080p picture presents the low-budget movie and its unconvincing visual effects with nary a hiccup, while the surround mix keeps dialogue crisp and volume levels steady for the moderately engulfing sound design.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The disc is void of any bonus features, not even the trailer that Anchor Bay usually provides (was one not even made for this?). We do, however, get trailers at disc insertion for the vastly better day-and-date documentary Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel and the equally wretched-looking Ice Quake and Metal Shifters.

Those ads are not available from the menu, which plays action clips from the movie in irregular rectangles amidst military camouflage colors. The BD supports bookmarks, but does not resume playback. There are no inserts inside the eco-friendly blue keepcase, whose artwork far exaggerates the gruesomeness of the film.

On the roof of the group's hideout, Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) fires away at a camel spider.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The only way you could enjoy Camel Spiders is ironically, but it has just too much self-awareness to be unintentionally funny and not enough to appreciate for camp value. In short, there is no good reason to ever see this crap. You'd be much better off rewatching Arachnophobia.

Buy Camel Spiders from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD

Buy from Amazon.com

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Written and Directed by Jay Andrews: Dinocroc vs. Supergator | C. Thomas Howell: Red Dawn
Produced by Roger Corman: Dinoshark Sharktopus Eat My Dust Fire on the Amazon Grand Theft Auto
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid Battle: Los Angeles Skyline The Reef Piranha Shark Night



Camel Spiders Songs List: Rocky DeMarco - "I Wanna Be a Bad Girl", Jon Mack - "Appetite"

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Reviewed March 25, 2012.



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