Arachnophobia: behind the scenes of a cult film celebrating its 30th anniversary

Just 30 years ago, on April 17, 1991, the excellent film “Arachnophobia” was released in our theaters, directed by Frank Marshall, an old friend of Spielberg’s producer, who made his first film here as a director. Memories sequence …

Arachnophobia: behind the scenes of a cult film celebrating its 30th anniversary
Hollywood pictures

Just 30 years ago, on April 17, 1991, a formidable film came out on our screens which over the years earned its stripes as a little cult film: Arachnophobia. Produced by the very young structure Hollywood pictures, newly created by Disney, it is also the very first film as the director of a more than seasoned veteran of cinema: Frank Marshall. The same who co-founded, alongside Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy in 1981, the production company Amblin Entertainment.

An old accomplice of Spielberg, Marshall has produced a number of films that have marked the history of cinema: Back to the Future, The Goonies, the Indiana Joneses, The Last Waltz by Martin Scorsese, Gremlins, The Warriors of the Night, The Nerves in lively, Who wants the skin of Roger Rabbit, The Jason Bourne …

“I never thought about directing before this film” Marshall explained in a interview in 2020; “I was a second-team director on many films for Steven Spielberg and Bob zemeckis. I was on the set of Always in Montana with the second crew. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was still with Disney at that time, came on the set, and said, “We think maybe it’s time you took the director’s chair. We thought of a script you might like. And he handed me Arachnophobia “.

Supported by a solid cast, including Jeff Daniels, a priceless John Goodman as a spider exterminator, and Julian Sands, whose role as scientist is reminiscent of that played by Sam Neill in Jurassic Park, Arachnophobia stages a story that begins in the Venezuelan jungle. During an expedition, a photographer is stung to death by a monstrous spider which subsequently enters his coffin. She is thus repatriated to California. Soon, several suspicious deaths are declared in the small village of Canaima, where only Dr. Jennings (Jeff Daniels) has suspicion of their origin …

Here is the trailer again, for fun …

Fears and shivers running through the spine, humor and very successful special effects: a clever and intelligent mixture, which unfortunately only attracted a little more than 544,000 spectators in France. “I liked the idea of ​​the spider coming back in a coffin from South America. It was kind of a horror movie, but it had a lot of humor in it.” Marshall says.

If the cast is in unison, despite everything, it’s not easy to shoot with real spiders … “They weren’t poisonous. It’s like worrying about snakes on The Raiders of the Lost Ark. If snakes aren’t poisonous, it’s not really scary. Even if you have that tactile reaction when a spider jumps on your hand no matter what you do. There were also famous stories around it on the set, kinds of myths and urban legends around the set of Warner Bros. where we were, that poisonous spiders had escaped. For years after, I still had calls about this story. But no, we didn’t have poisonous spiders on the set. “

In this case, the film crew had chosen to shoot with spiders from New Zealand and Australia, called Delena cancerides, belonging to the family of Sparassidae. A species that practices hunting on the lookout for very fast prey; hence its English nickname of Huntsman Spiders. Charming critters … Spiders that sometimes had to be motivated with a hairdryer or hot air to make them move, under the supervision and surveillance of a renowned American entomologist, Steve kutcher.

For what result exactly? It’s up to you to find out urgently, if you’ve never seen this excellent film! Unless you are precisely arachnophobic?

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