Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CAMEL SPIDERS (Blu-ray)

The latest Roger (and Julie) Corman-produced SyFy channel creature feature, CAMEL SPIDERS (2012), has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Anchor Bay. With this one, the veteran exploitation filmmakers have taken a real-life creepy-crawly and given it, sadly, an unimaginative and half-hearted TV-movie treatment.

The movie opens in the Middle East (presumably Afghanistan, although it's clearly good old Vasquez Rocks, north of L.A.) where a group of U.S. soldiers led by a Captain Sturges (Brian Krause, CHARMED, WARBIRDS) are battling a small group of insurgents. Suddenly, a horde of foot-long arachnids emerge from crevices in the rocks and attack the Afghans, killing them and dragging the bodies away - all out of the sight of the Americans. Although baffled by the disappearance of their adversaries, Sturges has one of his dead soldiers crated up (in a wooden crate, without so much as a body bag or any other amenities) and loaded upon a CGI helicopter. As he announces that he'll be taking the dead soldier home -personally - a couple of giant spiders crawl into the crate unseen. Of course, once Sturges gets that body home, the spiders will emerge and breed, and he'll find himself trapped with a motley assortment of cannon fodder - I mean, characters - as the critters spread across the American Southwest.

Indifferently directed by B-movie vet Jim Wynorski (BIG BAD MAMA II, THE WITCHES OF BREASTWICK, DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR) under his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym, from an utterly inane and predictable screenplay by J. Brad Wilke and Wynorski himself, CAMEL SPIDERS is a terrible, cheap, completely forgettable waste of time.  The acting is leaden, and the "production values" are laughable. The special effects... well, the CGI spiders are goofy, unbelievable cartoons. The limited gore is bad CGI. The muzzle-flashes on the obviously plastic toy guns are rendered with even more bad CGI.

And as for the so-called story - nothing in the scripted action makes even a pretense of sense; Wynorski's movie doesn't so much require you to suspend your disbelief as it demands that you bludgeon it into unconsciousness.

I genuinely dislike writing completely negative reviews. I always try to find something of merit in every movie I watch, and there are a lot of "bad" movies that I do sincerely enjoy, because something in them charms me or indicates a sincere effort to entertain. But I'm drawing a blank on this one. I watched it just a few days ago, and I honestly cannot remember anything good about it. Even at 85 minutes, it felt too long.

Anchor Bay's Blu-ray presentation, however, is stellar. The 1.78:1 1080p HD widescreen transfer is basically flawless, bright and crystal clear, with good color balance and sharp detail...which only further betrays the cheapness of the production. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is clear and robust. Anchor Bay has, mercifully, spared us a commentary track... and any other bonus features, for that matter.

I put off writing this review for a while. As I said above, I'm an aggressively good-willed viewer. I want to be entertained and pleasantly surprised by the movies I watch - and that's not always easy. With as many low-budget genre flicks as I watch, cynicism is a lot easier... but I do try. Ultimately, though, I have to be honest: CAMEL SPIDERS sucks. The only recommendation I can make is to avoid it.

(Instead, I suggest you find yourself a copy of 1977's KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS for some genuinely good, B-movie arachnophobia!)

BUYCamel Spiders [Blu-ray]