It has been a good year for big-screen arachnids, what with Spider-Man and those spiderlike surveillance-bots in Minority Report. And now comes the creepy-crawly sci-fi comedy Eight Legged Freaks, about a toxic spill that causes spiders to grow and grow . . . and grow. Dufus hero David Arquette and shotgun-toting sheriff Kari Wuhrer battle these amazingly lifelike, computer-generated mutants as they swarm from the desert and lay siege to the town mall.
Before you get caught in this latest cinematic web, take the following spider-movie quiz. Identifying 12 to 14 of these movies correctly means you're either a Creature Feature freak or a frustrated bug doctor. If you don't fare so well, you can always hit the video store. (The answers are below.)
1. Itty-bitty Grant Williams, armed with a needle, battles a tarantula for a morsel of cheese in this '50s classic taken from a Richard Matheson novel.
2. Sabu, attempting to make off with the eye of a temple god, becomes ensnared in a giant web in this Arabian Nights classic.
3. John Goodman is a quick-on-the-trigger exterminator called in when a lethal visitor from the Amazon takes up residence in a small California town.
4. On leave from Star Trek duties, William Shatner plays a veterinarian battling an infestation of Arizona tarantulas.
5. James Bond finds himself cuddling up to a large, hairy West Indian tarantula in this, 007's first big-screen outing.
6. Teens, crooks and a giant spider figure in this Roger Corman quickie that costars Richard Sinatra, Frank's nephew.
7. Disney's first wildlife documentary, an Oscar winner, catches the lightning-fast trap-door spider being his ol' sneaky self.
8. A scientist experimenting with radioactive nutrients (but of course!) creates the unstoppable giant of the title. Hint: Universal contract player Clint Eastwood appears as the jet pilot in the final showdown.
9. In an act of stunning futility, Richard Harris' rugby player smashes a spider against a hospital wall in the final sequence of this gritty British classic.
10. Barbara Hale of Perry Mason and Alan Hale Jr. of Gilligan's Island team to save Wisconsin from eight-legged critters from another dimension in this low-budget hoot. Pitch line: "Creeping! Crawling! Crushing!"
11. In one of his creepiest cases, Sherlock Holmes, played by Basil Rathbone, goes up against the venomous Gale Sondergaard, whose eight-legged accomplices drive her victims to suicide.
12. Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) battles Nazis, slave traders and, for the cave climax, a hilarious hokey prehistoric spider in this installment.
13. The half-man, half-insect of the title screams "Help me! Help me!" as a hungry spider moves in for the kill.
14. The legless Dr. Arliss Loveless gets around in a giant, spiderlike contraption in this big-budget adventure spoof by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black II).
1: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1956).
2: The Thief of Bagdad (1940).
3: Arachnophobia (1990).
4: Kingdom of the Spiders (1977).
5: Dr. No (1962).
6: Beast from Haunted Cave (1959).
7: The Living Desert (1953).
8: Tarantula (1955).
9: This Sporting Life (1963).
10: The Giant Spider Invasion (1975).
11: The Spider Woman (1944).
12: Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943).
13: The Fly (1958).
14: Wild Wild West (1999).