Review: Camel Spiders (Blu-ray)

Anchor Bay releases the Roger Corman produced creature feature Camel Spiders onto Blu-ray!

  • Director: Jay Andrews aka Jim Wynorski
  • Starring: Brian Krause, C. Thomas Howell
  • Year: 2011
  • Runtime: 84 Minutes
  • Company: Anchor Bay
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1 - 25GB
  • Video: 1.78:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Region: A
  • Released: 3/27/2012

Prolific and legendary independent auteur Roger Corman has found a new arena to spread his low budget brand of unique cinema to; Television. Giving up producing and releasing theatrical films decades ago, Corman turned to exclusively churning out Direct-To-Video & TV films to capitalize on the booming video market under his New Horizons banner. If you remember browsing through the "Horror/Sci-Fi" section of your video store (I rented Carnosaur and it's sequels nonstop, true story), you have no doubt seen the hundreds of covers of films from the Corman camp.
Television was the other medium I'd expose more of Roger Corman's creature features as a youngin watching the Sci-Fi Channel (SYFY what?). Still to this day, the output of "mutated monsters wreaking havoc" films from Corman is in full swing, which consists of taking two animals (extinct or not) and fusing them together. Such offerings are the ridiculously titled Sharktopus, Dinoshark and even Dinocroc vs. Supergator. While the creatures of today have moved into digital territory instead of the once traditional practical physicality, they're all still plenty entertaining.
This leads us to the latest offering, Camel Spiders. After a firefight between U.S. soldiers and what I'm guessing was a taliban group ends with a comrades death, Capt. Sturges (Brain Krause, Sleepwalkers) ends his tour and has his deceased friend shipped back with him to the States. Turns out giant camel spiders eliminated the aforementioned taliban group and hitched a ride inside of the also aforementioned deceased friends coffin. While being transported in Arizona (which looks nothing like Arizona) the camels spiders escape from the coffin during an accident, leaving Capt. Struges and his accompanying busty cohort Sgt. Shelly to seek help from bumbling lawman Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell, The Hitcher) who shows them where to eat lunch. You can't fight off middle eastern bugs without lunch first.
The giant arachnids make their way across town, jumping on and killing any idiot teenager not paying attention they can find. Eventually they storm the diner Sturges and Beaumont chose to dine at, which they quickly exit from with a group of survivors that are quintessential creature food. You've go the "douche college kid", "evil doing silver haired business man", "idiot whiny family going through a rough time" and "flirty man-ish looking waitress". Elsewhere there is also a group of twenty somethings that retreat to an abandoned house with a master plan of waiting it out. Hint, it doesn't work. CGI creature carnage ensues.
Unsurprisingly, Camel Spiders is a lot of fun. A lot of that stems from it being a film about killer camel spiders. If you couldn't guess it's also pretty humorous both in front and behind the camera, which I'm guessing has to do with the lead actors excitement knowing they're getting paid and veteran Corman alum Jim Wynorski. For some reason, Wynorski uses the drab Jay Andrews as a pseudonym to psych out viewers, when initiated fans would watch it based on his original name alone thanks to classics like Chopping Mall and the remake of Not of this Earth.
The camel spiders are all digital and tend to float instead of walk, something most would frown upon but I meet with grinning SyFy channel expectations. I woke up at 11am to watch this and still mind numbingly enjoyed it, but I'd recommend gathering your boozed up friends and subjecting yourself to 84 minutes of drunken reactions. These "CGI abortion" flicks are not for everyone, in most cases rightfully so but what do you expect from a made for TV film about man eating insects titled Camel Spiders? If anything they are fun, self aware time wasters that will no doubt leave you laughing throughout. Set your expectation and enjoy.

  • Video
Shot on shiny high definition cameras to air on shiny high definition TVs and to eventually be ported over to shiny Blu-rays, Camel Spiders faithfully looks just as it should here. It's strange to see Corman films look crisp and new instead of grainy with filmic texture but alas that's the current status of low budget filmmaking. There isn't any digital muckery going on (some over lighting in certain scenes for sure), colors are vibrant and texture is present without any glossy waxing. During driving scenes that involve green screen, there seems to be a bit of rigid interlacing but it's never distracting. Overall this is a nice transfer from Anchor Bay.
  • Audio
Camel Spiders is filled with gun shots, screaming, spider shrieks and explosions. All are heard just fine with the discs sole English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. Dialogue is clear, front and centered. All the action and sound effects are spread around through the surround channels with a nice use of the sub-woofer for some extra oomph. I was a bit surprised how well balanced the mix is, definitely satisfying.

Bonus Features
No Bonus Features are included, which is a damn shame. I honestly would have loved to hear a drunken Audio Commentary from Jim Wynorski, Brian Krause & C. Thomas Howell about the perils and ease of making this film. Ah, one day. One day.