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Arachnophobia [revised] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French & Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC  (Region-Free)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 105 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • List Price: $13.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

1990’s Arachnophobia (the title literally meaning the fear of spiders) was Steven Spielberg’s longtime producer Frank Marshall’s directorial debut. A throwback to the creature features of the 50s absent the undertones of Cold War paranoia, the film is rife with campiness and tongue in cheek comedy, yet it also manages to be perhaps the scariest horror movie about spiders ever put to celluloid.

Jeff Daniels (TV’s The Newsroom; The Answer Man) plays Dr. Ross Jennings, a city dwelling doctor who decides to pack up and leave L.A. with his wife and kids and move out to the country to get away from the urban dangers that have him stressed out. He also has a debilitating fear of spiders, something that is probably not the best thing to have when you move out to the countryside and own a moldy dark wine cellar and barn. When the film opens, we are in Venezuela where Dr. James Atherton (Julian Sands; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and his crew have just discovered a new species of deadly spider. One of the spiders bites and kills a member of Atherton’s crew and another hitches a ride back to the dead crew member’s hometown inside the coffin. The hometown is exactly where Dr. Jennings and his family have moved. The spider mates with a domestic spider and begins sending out an army of spiders throughout the town. When a few mysterious deaths occur, Jennings wants to investigate, but meets with resistance from the local folk until the old town doctor is killed and a spider bite is proven to be the cause. It isn’t long before Jennings is forced to confront his worst fear in an effort to save the town, and perhaps the country, from being overtaken by these deadly eight-legged monsters. John Goodman also appears as the somewhat dimwitted yet totally jacked to fight exterminator Delbert and his brief appearances are some of the films highlights.

While the film certainly never goes beyond its level of fear, scares, a light comedy to obtain any sort of deeper message, Arachnophobia is nonetheless a classic of the creepy crawler genre. The cast are all spot on in their deliveries, playing it up just right and when the scares get rolling, boy do they get rolling. This one will have your heart in your throat, especially if you are particularly averse to these fuzzy creepers.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]


We originally received Arachnophobia for review about a month ago  and were asked to remove our review and destroy our copy of the discs before they were released to the public. Having seen this reissued screener I now know why. The problems with washed out black levels and high grain levels are gone. Colors here look much more vibrant in the brighter scenes, shadows are deeper, and contrast on the whole is stronger while the image seems a bit brighter. There is still some film softness, but this is a big step up from what Disney almost let slip out to the public.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The audio remains the same, although I am now listening on a slightly revised setup, so some slight differences I am hearing in increased ambiance and separation in the surround channels  are more than likely due to that.

This film does hail from 1990, so I wasn’t expecting much from the 5.1 surround track provided on this Blu-ray in DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/24-bit). I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up, because there’s nothing much going on in this mix besides some mild ambience in the surround channels and a little boost to the low frequencies via the LFE. Dialogue also has some slight crackle but is intelligible.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Nothing here but the same ol’ same ol’.

The supplements:

  • Original Promotional Featurettes:
    • Production Featurette (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:48)
    • Frank Marshall Featurette (1.33:1; SD; 00:03:10)
    • Venezuela Sequence (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:29)
    • Trailer (1.33:1; SD)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Still the reigning king, even after Eight-Legged Freaks appeared in 2002, Arachnophobia is one of the best blends of comedy and horror you are likely to come across in a creature feature. This Blu-ray of Arachnophobia, thankfully, repaired by Disney before it reached consumers, still isn’t perfect, but it is a solid transfer of a catalogue comedy horror flick that hits shelves just in time for the coming holiday season.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Arachnophobia on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B0088EDONK[/amazon-product]

Purchase Arachnophobia on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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