The Spiders are the main antagonists of the 2002 horror-comedy movie Eight Legged Freaks. They are normal Arizonian spiders which have become ferocious, gigantic and eternally hungry due to ingesting toxic waste from a local spill.
The spiders are first introduced just after a truck driver swerves to avoid hitting a bunny early in the morning, and instead he hits the side of the road, some of his toxic waste barrels fall into the river and end up downstream where they infect the local cricket population. An exotic spider farmer, Joshua, finds the crickets and sees they have got bigger, so he feeds them to his pet spiders. He has over two hundred of the arachnids. By feeding these spiders with mutated crickets, he inadvertly enhanced the spider's intelligence as they became bigger.
Joshua is a solitary man, his best friend is a school kid named Mike, who is the son of female Sheriff Sam Parker, and Mike has no other friends either apart from Joshua. Mike shares Joshua's love of spiders and isn't repulsed by them unlike other people. Mike studies Joshua's spiders and Joshua welcomes his obsession, saying he will sell his pet spiders and go on to make a fortune from them.
Joshua tells Mike he has been feeding the spiders crickets, and this, he says is why his spiders grow bigger every time Mike sees them. He says next week they'll be four times as big, and after Mike leaves, a tarantula named Tank, snuck out of its cage, sneaks onto Joshua's back and when he notices it has gone, Joshua is bitten by the sneaky tarantula, which escapes and causes all the other spiders to burst out of their cage, with Joshua's dying screams causing the spiders to flee.
The spiders run into the town mines, which is next door to Joshua's house, and they live in the mines, presumably eating rats and other animals. The spiders get bigger inside the remains of Joshua's house, and they live off his corpse for a while, and get to the size of dogs. Then the spiders are alarmed by Joshua's phone ringing, when Mike tries to call. So the spiders frantically flee into the mines, taking Joshua's skeletal body with them. Then the spiders get to the size of trucks in the mines. There seems to be a hierarchy, the enormous spiders are like the generals, and then there are scouts, and the smallest spiders in the horde are just under a foot in height, but very venomous.
The spiders begin to meet the miners: One miner has his hose stuck, when he is spraying the mine walls with water, so he begins to suck out whatever is trapped in his hose, only to find to his horror, baby arachnids crawl out into his mouth, then he vomits them up, live, and the spider parent, an enormous creature the size of a car, crawls at him, while he tries to scream but he is dragged to his death by another spider from behind.
The giant spiders also begin to scout out the town. The cats and dogs begin to be abducted and eaten, the male sheriff, Pete, sees his cat be dragged up the chimney and electrocuted, then eaten by a huge spider, and his wife leaves him due to this. Pete has difficulty coping with the amount of missing animal calls his office gets, so he eventually calls the Department of Fish and Game for backup but they laugh at him.
Harlarn, a local alien fan, has been broadcasting from his remote radio station in his trailer that the abductions from the spiders are really the work of aliens. But nobody believes him, apart from Chris McCormack's aunt Gladys, whose dog is abducted by a giant spider later on.
Mayor Wade begins to see his pet ostriches are being sucked into pits in the ground, devoured by trapdoor spiders, then thrown up again, but he doesn't know or see the spiders because he only finds the bones, but the giant trapdoor spiders watch him menacingly from their pits. Wade's stepson, Brett, is dating Ashley, the daughter of Sheriff Parker, who has told Ashley because she was raped Brett might rape her. So she gives Ashley a taser for "protection." Ashley does use it when Brett gets forceful but he is only kissing her. So, it turns embarrassing when Ashley confesses her mother was worried and she breaks up with Brett and drives off, but to his shock Brett sees giant jumping spiders on the dunes watching him. Brett screams and runs off to his biker friends, telling them to run, but they joke that the only one running is him. Suddenly a huge jumping spider kills one of the boys. The others jump on their bikes and flee, but the spiders jump on them and kill all of them, leaving Brett as the only survivor. Brett causes a blackout when he causes a lorry to swerve into a telegraph, causing it to topple. Brett is chased by the giant spiders into the mines.
Now the giant spiders begin their attack. One giant arachnid attacks Ashley in her room, but Chris and Sam and Mike save her and kill the spider. Then more giant spiders attack due to their nocturnal hunting pattern. Three of them follow Pete when he drives into town. He comes to get Sam but is attacked by the spiders, but he shoots them all. Then he picks up Sam and Chris, Ashley and Mike and they drive to Harlarn's trailer to warn everyone. Harlarn is skeptical but convinced when the giant tarantula ambushes the trailer and turns it over, but they all get out. Pete drives them into town and soon everyone is being attacked by trapdoor, jumping and orb weaver spiders. The whole town is in chaos and everyone is running all over the place. Sam tries to tell everyone to go to the mall due to its steel walls. Nearly everybody gets into the mall, the confused Mayor is delighted to the mall's sudden popularity, but then he is terrified when seeing the spiders attacking. One spider even stands on a gatepost and beckons all the other spiders in, then hops about in glee while emit voice with laugh-like pattern.
Once inside, the tarantula tries to punch in, but cannot. The townspeople are told to get silent because the spiders are attracted to noise, to what Mayor Wade says why don't they call the Army. But Sam reminds him the phones are dead. So Harlarn says he could use his satellite phone on the top of the mall to do the call, and Wade cowardly tells Harlarn to "be a hero." When the other townspeople get bats and heavy weapons, Mike gets perfume because the spiders hate strong smells. All the other townspeople meet up but Ashley sees Wade running off. So, everyone defends themselves against the swarm of spiders that attack the mall, but many are terrified about the numbers. Sam gets them into the mines and barricades the place, but the tarantula smashes through.
Meanwhile, on the roof, Chris and Harlarn are trying to get a signal, but a giant swarm of spiders attack. Harlarn tries to shoot them but his fear of heights proves stronger than his fear of spiders. Chris gets through to the police, tells them of the attack, but they don't believe him. Chris yells "GET BACK YOU EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS!" and finally believes Harlarn that "They're here, they're here!" which Harlarn says "You're darn right that's what I've been telling you!" Harlarn tells Chris he will defend humanity by luring the spiders away, and taunts them that "You'll never get your anal probe near me!" Then he jumps off the roof and meets Pete, and together they run away from the giant tarantulas who have been moving very slowly towards them.
The townspeople move through the mines, finding many corpses, and suddenly Brett appears, having seen Consuela eating live people. Brett reunites with Ashley and tells her his bike saved his ass that day. The gatekeeper to the mall is lured off by an orb weaver who kills him and then Chris gets informed by Mike that the female of the spiders is three times bigger than any male. Chris decides to bomb the whole place with a bulb from the ceiling and his lighter, because the mines are full of nitrogen and the smallest spark will blow the whole mine. This will also kill all the spiders. Chris tells everyone to get out when he finds Gladys and lights the place. He does find Gladys who had been abducted by the spiders, and they kept her alive, ready for later because they prefer live prey. Wade had also been found wrapped up when he tried to ditch Brett, but the people rescued him from the webbing. Chris gets Gladys out but tells her not to light her cigarettes because of the gas, but then a gigantic, grotesque Consuela appears, angry and hungry. She howls at them and Chris can't shoot, but he remembers the perfume, squirts it at her, and she backs off, irritated. Then Chris and Gladys flee, pursued by the gigantic Consuela, and Chris lights the lighter, causing an explosion. All the other spiders follow Consuela, going back to the mines because it's dawn, and although they chase Chris to the exit, the spiders and Consuela are blown up in the resulting explosion.
The Army do arrive because although no one believed Chris or Sam, they do believe Harlarn's story of alien invaders. But somehow they are disappointed that they were just spiders attacking all along.
Personality and Traits
As result of feeding upon contaminated crickets taken from local spills, these spiders mutated to the point where they not only able to grew into gigantic proportions that enhanced their strengths, but also had their intelligence enhanced that also affect their means of communication and mindset: They now capable to communicate (normally in form of either roars, growls, limited body gestures and crude laughs) between one and another and also formed hierarchy between them. Each of their role in the formed hierarchy seemed to depended on how big they are and what species they came from.
Hilariously, in spite of their intelligence, many of them actually had much to learn in human environment, given that during the invasion, some of them still have problem to differentiate which prey that edible or not and sometimes behave clumsily. For instance, a jumping spider tries to taste a stuffed deer head, only to find tab it deemed not edible and spat it out in dismay. The other jumping spider shown humorously failed to break through the glass when tries to attack a waiter in a diner.
Powers and Abilities
As result of being feed by mutated crickets due to the toxic waste, all spiders possesses these powers:
- Advanced Intelligence: Though mutated spiders are came from different species in Arizona, all spiders are shown having their intelligence amplified beyond their natural intelligence as they mutated into gigantic size: spiders in the movie capable in performing impossible feats(at least impossible for their non-mutated counterparts in real life) as well as performing plans such as forcefully opened a car's door so their friends can pull the driver inside, learn from mistakes (ex. a jumping spider managed to bursts in through a window glass in more competent manner after observing one of it's ally did similar thing but embarassingly failed), and performing ambushes.
- Speech: Their advanced intelligence enable them to speech among themselves albeit in form of growls or roars. If one observed carefully in the scene where all spiders swarm toward the Prosperity Mall, one of them, who rallies its fellow spiders to attack, performs an Evil Laugh.
- Hierarchy and Interspecies Eusociality: Thanks to their enhanced intelligence, the mutated spiders are able to formed hierarchy among their kind and even put aside their difference for a common goal, which explain why none of them shown fighting each other within their lair and during the invasion. The behemoth of their kind (like Tank the Tarantula) works as General of spider army, Consuela as the Queen/Empress, and the smaller spiders as scouts/infantries of spider army.
Here are lists of spiders and their roles based upon their hierarchy.
- Spitter (soldiers)
- Orbweaver (security guards/scouts/soldiers)
- Jumper (scouts)
- Trapdoor (ambush unit)
- Tarantula (general of spiders army).
- Consuela (Empress/Queen)