Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2018 by Jacob Knight
In the annals of genre cinema, Arachnophobia is a slightly strange case. The feature directorial debut of Frank Marshall – co-founder of Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy – it arrived in theaters on July 18th, 1990, as the first title released beneath Disney’s Hollywood Pictures banner, which was founded so the studio could unveil more adult-oriented fare. Arachnophobia received solid reviews, was a modest box office hit – placing #3 behind Ghost and Die Harder before raking in $55 million total on a budget of $22 mil – and became a VHS staple for an entire generation of ‘90s kids. Ask most folks in their mid-30s these days, and they can cite whole scenes involving the picture’s practically rendered poisonous arachnids that scared the bejeezus out of them, doing for popcorn bowls what Psycho did for showers.
Still – thanks to format changeovers and market demand – Arachnophobia has also become something of home video relic. There’s an OOP bargain bin Blu-ray you can snag for a few bucks on Amazon, and a decent HD stream available at the same mega retailer. Nevertheless, its omnipresence somehow seemed to skip a generation, remaining in those Gen Xers’ nightmares, while the other scary classics Marshall produced with Spielberg (namely: Poltergeist and Gremlins) endured and solidified themselves in the Millennial pop culture vernacular. Perhaps it was simply due to iconography, as ghostly girls and green demons were burned into memory much easier than simple spiders. Or maybe the title of the film itself became an odd bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, as legions of potential movie-watchers steered clear since spiders creep people out on the regular during their everyday existences.