Del and Mladen review ‘Ice Spiders’

Image courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment.

“Ice Spiders” Starring Vanessa Williams, Patrick Muldoon, Thomas Calabro. Directed by Tibor Takacs. Amazon Prime. 90 minutes. Rated R.

Del’s take

Dude, didn’t we just review this movie?

Ski bums, bimbos and crazy old coots trapped at a ski lodge by a band of marauding. …

Wait … wait … it’s coming back to me. …

Sharks! That’s what I was thinking. “Avalanche Sharks.”

Except this isn’t “Avalanche Sharks,” not by a long shot, which is not a criticism of “Avalanche Sharks” though the movie deserves every bit of scorn I can shovel on its wriggling carcass.

This is “Ice Spiders,” an equally wretched presentation that nonetheless comforts me. All those bad feelings about none of my books being picked up by Hollywood? It ain’t because they suck. Maybe they don’t suck enough.

I’m trying to figure out who plagiarized whom because “Ice Spiders” and “Avalanche Sharks” are essentially the same movie. Change a few character names and you’ve got “Avalanche Spiders” or “Ice Sharks.” I actually prefer “Ice Sharks” as a title.

The plot goes something like this: Dan “Dash” Dashiell (Patrick Muldoon) is a ski instructor at a hidden mountain resort watching newbies to the slopes crash into each other on the bunny run. Once, he was an Olympics downhill hopeful, but a dreadful injury dashed those aspirations.

Dr. April Sommers (Vanessa Williams) is a biologist at a hidden military laboratory who is trying to make spiders bigger so they’ll spin more silk, which can be used to make bulletproof vests for the troops. But her boss, Professor Marks (David Millbern), has secretly amped up the growth hormones being fed to the spiders. See what they did there? They de-eviled Dr. Sommers, so that when the spiders escape the lab and start devouring the bunny run bumblers, she can sermonize about the evils of ambition (too bad it wasn’t corporate America – THAT I could believe).

Did I say something about spiders eating people? Oh yes, it’s a bloody arachnabuffet as killer spiders the size of Saint Bernards gallop across the ski runs, munching on those who aren’t aspiring Olympics downhill racers. You can see where this is going.

“Ice Spiders” has another quality in common with “Avalanche Sharks”: It too is a lo-fi cash grab by producers with modest aspirations. The script is dreadful, as is the acting (with the exception of Williams, who struggles gamely through the train wreck of dialogue as if she were trying not to laugh). The special effects are crappy even for CGI. And the plot is thoroughly, reprehensibly predictable.

I spent 90 minutes constantly checking the status bar to see how much time remained of this stupid flick. It was that bad.

Don’t blame me. Mladen chose this clinker. I give it a D-, which if memory serves is what I graded “Avalanche Sharks.”

I get to choose the next movie and if Mladen doesn’t step up his movie review selection game, I will punish him with another “Jane Austen Book Club.”

Mladen’s take

Del, you’re so off the mark with your review of “Ice Spiders” that I’m forced to conclude the following: You must think Trump is intelligent and human.

The difference between “Ice Spiders” (IS) and “Avalanche Sharks” (AS) is akin to the difference between Star Wars Episode 4 and Star Wars Episode 1. AS is a poor script wrapped by horrible acting and zapped in a microwave oven until everything explodes into a big, fat mess. IS is, well, not.

And, the star of IS isn’t Vanessa Williams. Hell, Vanessa Williams isn’t even Vanessa Williams. When the acting credits rolled at the beginning of the movie and Vanessa Williams’s name popped up, I thought, “Woohoo, it’s that Vanessa Williams. Miss USA. Singer. Model.” A 1980s bombshell, she was. Instead, I got a Vanessa Williams, the crappy actor and millennial, or whatever her generation moniker is, with, I must concede, decent cleavage.

IS avoids becoming AS because of the acting by Patrick Muldoon, who portrays Dash the ski instructor. He had, oh, panache. Muldoon converts dialogue that could’ve been utterly banal into something that seems close to plausible. His facial expressions and ever so slightly effete gestures as he delivers his lines adds a lighter mood to the film without turning it into a joke. Well done, Muldoon. You carried the day.

Muldoon’s performance is strong enough to overcome the movie’s weaknesses. But, Del, in one instance, is correct. The CGI spiders in this film are terrible. All six of them. They look like shitty animation added to a live-action film. Plus, the cockroaches in my kitchen are bigger than the spiders in the movie. I was far from terrified by the suspense of people placing themselves unknowingly in position to get attacked and dismembered. I take that risk every time I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. My cockroaches are as big as helicopters and fly just as well. The practical effects in IS aren’t much better either, but they sure as hell are better than those in AS. At least the fake blood in IS was the color of blood. In AS, the blood was, I don’t know, a subdued fluorescent pink.

Also, you can’t overlook the political message in IS. The mad scientist uses the fascistic argument of national security to justify the spider mutation program, rationalize the deaths of fellow Americans, and openly threaten the lives of the survivors, if they said anything about the dangers they faced. Huh. Sounds like Trump and his justifications for his miserable COVID pandemic response.

“Ice Spiders” gets a B from me because of Muldoon’s acting, the production company’s insight to steal the plot from the very good movie “Deep Blue Sea” – enlarge an animal to get it to produce more of the substance you need to make a lot of money … I mean help humanity – and its R rating. Del gets an F for being Del in his review.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.