ⓘ Earth vs. the Spider (2001 film)

                                     

ⓘ Earth vs. the Spider (2001 film)

Earth vs. the Spider is a 2001 science fiction horror television film directed by Scott Ziehl. It is the first of a series of films made for Cinemax paying tribute to the films of American International Pictures. The films in this tribute series reused the titles of old American International Pictures films, but are not remakes of the earlier films. The film centers on a shy, obsessive comic book fan who gets injected with an experimental serum derived from spiders, which gives him minor superpowers. As time progresses, more horrific changes occur, slowly transforming him into a grotesque human spider. A detective begins to investigate when bodies start to pile up covered in cobwebs. The film is rated R for violence, nudity, profanity, gore, and profanity. The film was nominated for the Saturn Award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA.

                                     

1. Plot

Quentin Kemmer Devon Gummersall is a shy security guard and obsessive comic book fan who dreams of becoming a superhero like his favorite comic book character The Arachnid Avenger, and going out with his next-door neighbor Stephanie Lewis Amelia Heinle. When his partner is killed during a botched robbery at the research laboratory where he works, Quentin is fired and he injects himself with an experimental serum derived from spiders. The next day he is wracked with a severely high fever and spends most of the day unconscious. After he recovers he discovers that he has developed increased strength.

Later that night, Stephanie is attacked and almost raped by a stalker until Quentin intervenes and kills the man, leaving before Stephanie can see him. Quentin later returns to his apartment and finds Stephanie being interviewed by Detective Frank Grillo Dan Aykroyd in hopes of identifying her savior. At first Quentin is thrilled that he is finally able to live his dream of becoming a superhero. However, as the days go by he begins to develop more spider-like abilities including being able to shoot webs from his abdomen, and his body becoming more spider-like. Later, Quentin is overwhelmed with an insatiable hunger but is unable to eat solid food. Arriving at a local store in an effort to find something to satisfy his hunger, he happens upon a man attempting to rape a young woman and attacks him, severely injuring the man. Expecting the woman to be grateful, he is surprised when she yells at him in anger as the man was her boyfriend. When she attempts to call the police Quentin encases her in webbing, Police Officer Williams Christopher Cousins arrives on the scene and attempts to free the woman but is attacked by Quentin.

The next day the police converge on the store and find the mans body which has been sucked dry of all fluids and the woman in a state of shock. Detective Grillo is confused by the state of the mans body and by the presence of what appears to be spider webs at the scene as well as Williams badge even though his body is missing. Horrified at what he is becoming as his body mutates even further, and afraid of hurting anyone else, Quentin holes himself up in his room in an effort to prevent any more murders.

The next night, he is overwhelmed by his insatiable hunger and ventures out, murdering two young men who used to pick on him. Trying to get to the bottom of the murders, Frank interviews the head of the research department where Quentin used to work where he discovers that scientists were working on a way to transfer properties from spider into humans. Now realizing that the killer might have injected himself with the labs serum and theorizing that Quentin might be the killer, Frank visits Quentins apartment but finds no one apparently home. After discovering the same webbing found at the store, Frank enters the apartments basement where he discovers dozens of bodies encased in webbing. Meanwhile, Franks wife Trixie Theresa Russell has followed her husband who she believes is hiding Officer Williams with whom she was having an affair. Trixie is then attacked by an almost completely metamorphosed Quentin who flees when Frank attempts to rescue her, but arrives too late to save her and she dies in his arms. Entering the apartment Quentin kidnaps Stephanie and takes her to an abandoned building nearby. Frank arrives at the building and finds Stephanie strung up in a large spiders web. Before he can free her Quentin now a grotesque mixture of man and spider appears and begs Frank to kill him. Frank at first refuses to do so, but the animal side of Quentin takes over and he lunges at Stephanie, forcing Frank to open fire on him. Mortally wounded, Quentin manages to live long enough to hear Stephanie thank him for saving her before he expires. The film ends with Quentins friend Han, introduce a comic book collector to an action figure that resembles his friend, now a superhero named Quentin Arachnid.

                                     

2. Cast

  • John Cho as Han
  • Greg Harris as Gutterpunk #1 as Zia
  • Rob Hill as Liquor store cop
  • Ted Rooney as Coroner
  • Devon Gummersall as Quentin Kemmer
  • Dan Martin as Huge cop
  • Lloyd Lowe Jr. as Lloyd gutterpunk #2 as Lloyd Lowe
  • Amelia Heinle as Stephanie Lewis
  • Christopher Cousins as Officer Williams
  • Randall Huber as Midtown murderer
  • Dan Aykroyd as Det. Insp. Frank Grillo
  • Michael Keenan as Willie
  • Theresa Russell as Trixie Grillo
                                     

3. Production

Earth vs. the Spider was the first film in a series of made-for-TV film remakes produced by special effects artist Stan Winston, the first series to be produced by Winstons newly formed production company Stan Winston Productions and released by Cinemax. The films script, like the others in the series differed significantly from the original film which was about a town plagued by a giant spider. Co-creator Stan Winston described the films plot as being about, "a young man whose attempt to become a Spider-Man type superhero goes disastrously wrong, leaving him with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character type personality disorder". Winston also stated that he planned to release a series of action figures based on the first five characters in the series including one based on the Quentin Arachnid creature featured in the film.

                                     

4. Release

Earth vs. the Spider premiered on Cinemax television on October 7, 2001 making it the first in the series. Two years later Columbia TriStar released the film on DVD on July 6, 2004 and on May 7 that same year.

                                     

5. Reception

Earth vs. the Spider received mixed to negative reviews from critics, with many criticizing it for being a rip-off of David Cronenbergs The Fly.

TV Guide awarded the film 2 / 4 stars, criticizing Gummersalls performance, and its special effects calling them "goofy". Steve Van Pelt from Filmthreat.com gave the film 1 / 4 stars stating, "Not a single one of those powerful filmmakers out there could come up with an original idea if bit into them with the inch-long fangs of an engineered Super Spider". G. Noel Gross from DVD Talk rated the film two and a half out of five stars, criticizing the films slow start, and uneven execution, but also stated that the film was the better entry in the series, and special effects.

Rich Rosell from Digitally Obsessed.com, which grades film on a scale from A to F awarded the film a grade C. Rosell praised the films special effects that transformed actor Devon Gummersall into a human spider but complained about the films dull story commenting, "Stan Winstons Creature Features series is tied at 1-1, with this weak entry balanced against the entertaining initial release of She Creature. The story here is shamefully weak, and seems to borrow handily from The Fly for most of its intended, but poorly executed, dramatic tension. The campy superhero parallels mostly fall flat". Movie-gazette.com gave the film 3 / 10 stars calling it "A bizarre mix of comic book camp and "The Fly"-style horror". Mick Martin and Marsha Porter in their DVD and Video Guide gave the film a more positive 3 out of 4 stars, complimenting the films special effects and performances. Felix Vasquez from Cinema Crazed.com called it "a fun guilty pleasure", commending the films make-up and special effects, Gummersall, and Chos performances, and Ziehls direction. However, Vasquez felt that Akroyds inclusion in the film felt "tacked on".