EARTH VS. THE SPIDER – now that’s a name that screams “This is a bad, bad movie”. Add in a cast of has beens, and I had no choice but to rent it: Dan Akroyd plays a detective, John Cho, the Asian “MILF” dude from American Pie and Harold & Kumar plays a comic book store owner and finally, last, but certainly not least…Devon Gummersall. Who is Devon Gummersal, you ask?
My girlfriend in high school forced me to watch all of the “My So Called Life” episodes (I hated it at first, but then became a fan) and Devon Gummersall was the name of the actor who played Brian Crackow, the nerdy fro-sporting virgin who secretly pined after Claire Danes’ character Angela. Since his “Life” days, Crackow has lost the fro and now has that hyena-looking Giovanni Ribisi style going on.
To say that this movie is inspired by Spiderman would be the understatement of the century. To be fair, this movie came out before the Tobey Maguire blockbuster, but it’s still funny to see what special effects look like for a $1-2M Spiderman movie as opposed to the $100M blockbuster.
Gummersall plays the role of Quentin - your all too typical sad sack guy who never gets the girl, is ridiculed by the neighborhood toughies and yearns to one day be like the superheroes from the comic books that he avidly collects. Why are your eyes glazing over? Was it something I said?
Quentin works security in a science lab where scientists study and experiment with spiders in the hopes that one day they will be able to harness the spider’s resilient and regenerative abilities so that the government can produce super soldiers with those same qualities. Suddenly, there is an accident at the lab and cops and scientists are killed. For some reason, Quentin decides to pump himself full of the juice that the scientists have been injecting into the spiders. Sound familiar?
It is somewhat entertaining watching Gummersall transform into a spider, especially the type of spider that a $1-2M budget can afford. The transformation starts with a low-budget spider tattoo (looks like a PA used a Sharpie) that spreads across his forearm. And as I watch a bare-chested Gummersall shoot webs out of his sternum, I realize why the real Spiderman shoots webs out of his wrists – it’s just cooler and you avoid having to look at a pale, skinny white dude’s chest.
My favorite moment came during the spider transformation when two fangs emerge from Gummersall’s mouth. At that moment, he sounds like someone trying to speak while the dentist is working in his mouth. When Stephanie, the female he lusts over, asks him to come out of his apartment so that she can see him, he shouts “Go Array!” through the awkward fangs that have sprouted from his mouth. You can actually see Gummersall’s thoughts: “It’s a paycheck, Devon. Maybe NBC will commission “My So Called Early Thirties””
Later on, Gummersall’s face becomes much more spider-ish, but as he pounces on his victims and growls voraciously, you can’t help but harken back to the days where he would say “Of course, I’ll be your friend, Angela” or “you think of me as a brother?” Gummersall isn’t a convincing spider maniac and it’s not worth watching this movie to see how badly he fails. This movie straddles the line between decent movie and camp, which is No Man’s Land. Worth checking out for the has been actors though.
RATING: *1/2 (out of four)