Here’s a nature-runs-amok flick number … oh hell; I lost count. I was attracted to this one mainly because I hate spiders (I mean I really fucking hate spiders) and apparently I’m a masochist. But CAMEL SPIDERS plays out like your typical SyFy Original (even though it didn’t air on that channel) unravels pretty much like your typical creatures fucking stuff up flick. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t fun. Right? Let’s find out.
CAMEL SPIDERS begins in the Afghan desert, where the camel spiders are indigenous. There, a squad of soldiers led by Capt. Sturges (Brian Krause) got ambushed by the enemy and are taking casualties. But as luck would have it, a roving gang of camel spiders happens to wander by and do what the U.S. military can’t do … eliminate the enemy. So (legendary) director Jim Wynorski blows his wad in the first five minutes of the film by not just showing us the titular creatures, but by having them attack, hiss, growl, and kill a group of men. Then in a scene lifted directly from ARACHNOPHOBIA, a couple of camel spiders hitch a ride back to the good ole U.S of A inside the body of a dead U.S soldier.
Due to being injured in the opening scene, Sturges is back in the U.S transporting the body of the dead soldier and a truck full of weapons to another base. With him is the hot-at-the-right-angle Sgt. Shelly Underwood (Melissa Brasselle). They get into a car wreck and the camel spiders, who’ve obviously been humping each other more than the cast of The Jersey Shore, get loose. They enlist the help of the local law enforcement, Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell), and the stage is officially set. As you can see, there’s not much new going on here as far as the plot goes. This set up can be plugged into any SyFy Original flick. But what this film lacks in originality it more than makes up for in energy. The first two acts of CAMEL SPIDERS moves along at a great pace and gives us some really fun creature action and violence. We get characters introduced for the sole purpose of becoming camel spider food, and we get to see lots of icky shots of the enlarged creatures jumping onto people’s faces and heads (we even get a POV shot from a camel spider as it chases down a buxom bimbo). Yeah; the first two acts are a lot of fun.
And then the third act begins.
In the third act everything seems to come to a grinding halt. Half the cast is holed up in an abandoned factory while the other half is holed up in an abandoned house. The later group of survivors felt a little tacked on, almost as if the filmmakers felt they needed more victims. We never even get a satisfying resolution for this later group. But once both groups of survivors barricade themselves in to their respective locations, everything suddenly gets very talky and bogged down in useless dialogue. It’s a shame when a film comes outta the gate swinging and then doesn’t have the stamina to fight the entire game.
Also all the camel spider attacks get pretty ‘ho-hum’ after the first two acts. We see endless shots of the camel spiders attaching themselves to the faces of hapless victims. Repeatedly. Over and over again. We get pretty desensitized pretty quickly. And whereas the movements of the camel spiders are fairly well captured, the creatures themselves just never blend well into many of the shots. In many scenes the camel spiders look to be exactly what they are: CGI creatures that were added into the scenes during post-production. If you remember the titular creatures in ICE SPIDERS, their movements were captured brilliantly, and they also interacted extremely well in the shots they were in.
There was also some confusion, at times, about the camel spiders themselves. From what I read about them, they aren’t actually spiders at all (they also mention this in the film). They’re more like scorpions. So why is it in one scene two people who were attacked by the camel spiders were also covered in webbing? Camel spiders don’t spin webs. And wow do those things procreate fast!! When they escaped into the country side there were about 5-6 of the camel spiders; just a few hours later there were hundreds of them (in the high hundreds). There’s your quick and sustainable food supply!!
Then add to this other little annoyances like the fact that no one ever re-loaded a gun in CAMEL SPIDERS. Seriously; everyone had those magical Hollywood guns where one clip lasts the entire film. That honestly got very annoying.
In the end I’m marginally recommending CAMEL SPIDERS. The first two acts are fast paced, icky, and offer a lot of really fun creature violence. Unfortunately the filmmakers couldn’t keep this energy level through the third and fourth acts, where everything slows down considerably. The fifth act picks up the pace again, but you’re gonna be tempted to use that fast forward button on the remote during the middle section of the film. Thisone ain’t winning any awards, but all in all you’ll have a fun time with CAMEL SPIDERS.
Director: Jim Wynorski
Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer