Lavalantula (2015)

Rating: C

Dir: Mike Mendez
Star: Steve Guttenberg, Nia Peeples, Patrick Renna, Ralph Garman

Where does that second “la” come from? Shouldn’t it just be “lavantula”? This is important, folks: the etymology of giant, fire-spitting spiders is important, as they roam the streets of Los Angeles, matters. Director Mendez may be in danger of being typecast here, having also been responsible for the other “large arachnids on LA rampage” movie, the subtly-named Big Ass Spider!. This isn’t quite as much fun, lacking much in the way of escalation. By the point in this that you see the creatures in question, you’ve experienced most of what the film has to offer, though Guttenberg makes a nice hero, as washed-up action-star Colton West, whose efforts to take his son to a baseball game get interrupted by the sudden appearance of a volcano and, subsequently, the eight-legged freaks of the title.

Indeed, the meta humor to be found here, not least as he interacts with the various “lookalikes” that roam the streets of Hollywood, e.g. Garman as “Pirate Jack”, is something I’d like to have seen expanded. It helps that, while there are a number of cameos here, they are mostly actual actors e.g. the guy who played Tony Almeida in 24, rather than, as in Sharknado, people like the guy who invented Reddit. However, the film runs out of steam badly in the second-half, as the chase scenes become repetitive, and the dime-store special effects gradually move from cheesily amusing to embarrassing. West eventually discovers, through the help of a character that can only be called Professor Exposition, that there is a maze of lava tunnels under the city, and that if they kill the queen spider, this will solve the problem.

The precise mechanics of the method are left unexplained, as are quite why these spiders have queens, or even how Professor Exposition knows so much about then, when the rest of society is so ill-prepared for their arrival. But if logic is your biggest issue with a film about giant, fire-breathing spiders, you should likely seek your entertainment elsewhere. It’s one of those cases where the concept clearly came first, only for the script-writer to half-ass (rather than “big ass”, I guess) the execution, apparently checking out around the fifty-minute mark. It’s no disaster, as disaster movies go, and is likely a match for the much more-hyped Sharknado 3, which premiered the same week. However, that isn’t really much of a recommendation.