The movie had to be rewritten from scratch when they found there was no term for "the irrational fear of shadow puppets".

ARACHNOPHOBIA

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. VENEZUELA

MARK L. TAYLOR arrives in the jungles of VENEZUELA, where he meets JULIAN SANDS.

MARK L. TAYLOR

Hey there, are you the bug professor? I’m the sports photographer who’s been sent to take photos of your bugs.

JULIAN SANDS

What? But miniature nature photography is an incredibly specialized field that requires all sorts of different skills and equipment to action photography. Why did they send you?

MARK L. TAYLOR

Uh, they said they needed a clueless noob for you to explain stuff to?

JULIAN SANDS

Oh right, I do need me one of those. Okay, come on, let’s head down into the Forbidden Valley of Death.

They descend into an isolated VALLEY, where MARK proceeds to squick out about EVERY DAMN THING.

MARK L. TAYLOR

Ick, ew, bugs and stuff! Nobody warned me that the Venezuelan rainforest might have insects in it!

JULIAN SANDS

Oh when will people understand these beautiful and majestic creatures? Instead of appreciating them the way we entomologists do, all you can think to do is kill them!

(sighs)

Anyway, let’s pump this valley full of insecticide and make it rain bug corpses.

They literally let off a GIANT CLOUD OF POISON and put out BUCKETS to collect all the DEAD INSECTS which fall from the sky.

JULIAN SANDS

(flipping through dead insects)

Got it, got it, got it - ooh, need it! Hey check out this giant monster spider, it’s an undocumented specimen! And somehow it survived the poison cloud!

MARK L. TAYLOR

Instead of it popping up back alive right now, shouldn’t we have had it do that back at camp so it could get loose and set the events of the movie in motion?

JULIAN SANDS

That would’ve been the organic and sensible way to go sure, but instead a whole second baseball-sized monster spider will hide out on our luggage like a ninja for no reason and then THAT will get loose.

This HAPPENS. The second SPIDER invades MARK’S TENT and BITES HIM and he instantly DIES.

JULIAN SANDS

Gasp, Mark’s dead! It must be from the fever that we vaguely mentioned thirty seconds before he died! Oh well, let’s just pack his body in a crate and ship it back to his home town for burial.

JULIAN’S ASSISTANT

Surely US quarantine laws wouldn’t allow into the country the dead body of somebody who was killed in less than a day by an unidentified exotic disease?

JULIAN SANDS

They’ll do it without even performing a cursory examination, otherwise there’s no movie.

JULIAN’S ASSISTANT

Okay, but I can’t imagine anybody would ever accept the preposterous notion that America would get this dangerously lax about quarantine laws...

INT. MORGUE, HICKTOWN, USA

MARK’S BODY arrives at the MORGUE in his QUAINT LITTLE HOMETOWN. The CORONER opens the crate to find that the corpse is COMPLETELY DESSICATED.

CORONER

How peculiar! And now I imagine the spider will start a nest here at the morgue where it arrived, and then I will, as the coroner, investigate a mysterious spate of deaths and learn about the horrible mutant death spiders and ultimately trace them back to my own workplace, where an intense climax will then happen. What fun!

GIANT SPIDER

Sure, that would be a logical, non-contrived sequence of events. But instead I’m going to scuttle out your catflap-

CORONER

A catflap? At the morgue? So that my cat can wander in and out of the morgue as it sees fit?

GIANT SPIDER

Uh huh. Then I’ll get picked up by a bird, which I will kill midflight, but not until it’s poised to fall right onto the property of our real protagonist-

EXT. FARMHOUSE

JEFF DANIELS

-ME! A city doctor who just moved to this town LITERALLY TODAY, and is going to be the one noticing all the suspicious deaths and finally finding out that the nest HAPPENS to be back at my house by TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

And the coincidences don’t stop there! Tell them what phobia you just so happen to have, honey. Although I think the title of the movie might have already given it away a little.

JEFF DANIELS

That’s right, I’m a total arachnophobe who just moved out to the country, where all the spiders live, getting here on the exact day that this exact town becomes the epicenter of history’s biggest spider infestation, which is centralized exactly at my house! Now THAT’S how you do plot contrivance!

The family finds a TINY HARMLESS LITTLE SPIDER inside the house.

JEFF DANIELS

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!!!

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

Oh come on, why are you so terrified of these microscopic bugs anyway?

JEFF DANIELS

I had a serious spider-related trauma when I was a child! One time when I was very little, a spider...

(shudders at horror of memory)

...GOT ON ME AND CREEPED ME OUT!

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

...

JEFF DANIELS

What do you want from me, that’s pretty much all domestic spiders can even do. I mean, you’ve seen all the absurd sci-fi bullshit we’ve got to cram into this movie to have spiders be even a halfway threatening movie monster.

HARLEY takes the TINY SPIDER out to the BARN. The GIANT SPIDER sways seductively up to it.

GIANT SPIDER

Hey baby, I’m new in town. Know where a fella can have a good time around here?

TINY SPIDER

I’m up for anything, but you’re a completely different species about ten times my size, so the sheer mechanics of this might make it a no-go.

GIANT SPIDER

(hands her copy of the spider sutra)

It’ll be tricky, but I’ve bookmarked a few things which might work if you’re open-minded and limber enough.

TINY SPIDER

Ooh, kinky! All right, let’s get a shitload of lube and make our best effort at getting our freak on!

INT. BASEMENT

JEFF tries to set up a WINE CELLAR in his BASEMENT, only to find that all the wood has ROTTED TO SHIT.

JEFF DANIELS

Oh fuck, the wood keeping my house upright is swiss cheesed! I guess I bought a house without having even a cursory inspection performed, like a total dipshit!

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

It’s probably termites. I better call an exterminator.

JEFF DANIELS

And an emergency repairman to assess the damage and shore the place up before it collapses, right? And a motel for us to stay in until this place is safe to walk around in again?

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

Look it’s fine, the only reason we mentioned the rotten-foundation thing is to establish a flimsy floor that won’t matter until the climax, and introduce an exterminator character, who also won’t matter until the climax.

JOHN GOODMAN

(descending from Mars)

I’ll show up a few times before then, though, giving a weird colorful performance like I got lost on the way to a Coen Brothers movie! Nnyyyyerrp, woob.

JEFF DANIELS

Won’t you stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of us though, meaning that we create a huge tonal problem any time you’re on screen?

JOHN GOODMAN

Actually I’m mostly gonna make the audience realize that I’m the only one who found the correct note of goofiness for this movie, thus creating a huge tonal problem any time I’m NOT on screen. Which is most of the time. Sorry.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE

JEFF goes to see the previous town doctor, HENRY JONES.

JEFF DANIELS

So I’m going to be taking over your practice, then. Well most of the setup for this movie has been hopelessly contrived, but at least it’s reasonable that I, as the one person responsible for the health of everybody in town, would wind up noticing the upcoming spate of deaths.

HENRY JONES

Yeah, that’d make sense, wouldn’t it? But SURPRISE, I’ve decided to keep practicing after all, holding on to all my patients except ONLY local Cool Old Lady Mary Carver, and take a wild fucking guess who will be the first person in the movie to get spider-murdered.

MARY CARVER

Um, I don’t THINK so. YOU might be inevitable spider chow, what with your acting like a contemptible jackass in a monster movie like an idiot, but I’m being extra careful to be a nice, reasonable, steadying presence in this movie! In fact I’m the most sympathetic character we’ve got, so inherently good-natured that my death would be especially impactful and get the audience invested in AW DANG I TOOK IT TOO FAR IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.

Sure enough, the next time she goes HOME, a HYBRID DEATH SPIDER appears to attack her!

HYBRID SPIDER

Here I am! The big main threat of the movie! Fear me!!

MARY CARVER

Dawww, look at the cute little fella! I think I’ll call him Pinky!

HYBRID SPIDER

(waggling its little pincers)

What? No, I’m a terrifying monster! Why aren’t you shitting your pants?

MARY CARVER

If they wanted a scary movie spider, they shouldn’t have cast a huntsman, the big fuzzy teddy bear of the spider world. Why I just want to pick you up and put you in my pocket, yes I do!

(tickles spider under chin)

HYBRID SPIDER

FUCK YOU I’M SUPER INTIMIDATING!

(bites Mary)

MARY CARVER

Uh oh! I don’t suppose I’ll be getting any superpowers out of this by any chance?

(gains power of rigor mortis)

Oh har har.

Later, JEFF discovers MARY’S BODY.

JEFF DANIELS

She was in perfect health, then she mysteriously had some kind of a seizure and dropped dead? Something’s off here, I want an autopsy.

HENRY JONES

No! I, a doctor who went to medical school, think her sudden fatal seizure was caused by slightly high blood pressure! I intend to prove you’re guilty of criminal negligence!

JEFF DANIELS

Okay swell, that’d necessitate that autopsy I wanted so we’re golden.

HENRY JONES

NO! I said I wanted an official investigation into whether this death was due to malpractice, not an autopsy! NO AUTOPSY!!

JEFF DANIELS

You’re an idiot. But hey, now that I’m down to zero patients at least the next spider-related death can’t be pinned on me in any kind of a contrived coincidental-

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH

Hey Jeff, I’ve just gotten you the job of doing a health checkup on the football players at our high school! They’ll be technically your patients for like an hour, sure hope nothing happens to any of them in that specific timeframe!

JEFF DANIELS

Oh COME ON.

JEFF examines the PLAYERS, then when they head out to play a SPIDER just so happens to hide in one of their HELMETS and then BITES AND KILLS A PLAYER!

JEFF DANIELS

Great. And of course, the player went into his spider seizure like ONE SECOND after receiving a bad tackle to the head, so just like with Mary there’s a possible alternate explanation for this death which will cause my warnings to continue to go unheeded.

HENRY JONES

Boo, this too is all your fault! Clearly this boy had some kind of mystery condition which made him deathly allergic to football injuries, and which, although I never noticed it after being his doctor since birth, should have been easily detectable by your cursory ten-second “turn your head and cough” examination! I WILL DENOUNCE YOU TO THE TOWN AS A MURDEROUS QUACK!

JEFF DANIELS

Wow. You’re really determined to earn that karmic death, aren’t you?

HENRY JONES

I figure I might as well get it out of the way.

INT. HENRY’S HOUSE

One night, HENRY is walking on his TREADMILL when, unbeknownst to him, a MURDER SPIDER enters the room!

HYBRID SPIDER

That’s right, I am here! Creeping ever closer, while you remain oblivious, OOH THE SUSPENSE!!

HENRY JONES

Yeah yeah whatever, that’s the same schtick you guys pull in every damn scene. Every time you show up, you just crawl around near people until they either get killed by you or leave.

(shrugs)

But hey, I guess when you’re a movie monster that could be defeated by a rolled-up newspaper, the only plausible way for you to ever pose a threat to anybody is for them to literally not even notice that you’re there.

HYBRID SPIDER

NO TIME FOR SASS, DOCTOR JONES!

The SPIDER bites HENRY and he DIES.

JEFF DANIELS

Dang, if Henry’s dead then who’s going to dangerously ignore my warnings now? Is there an irrationally skeptic jerk in the house?

JAMES HANDY

(appearing)

Hi, I’m the medical examiner, and I think that Henry’s heart exploded because he was walking on the treadmill at about point zero one miles per hour. Case closed!

JEFF DANIELS

I’m starting to think these deaths might be due to some kind of magical super-deadly spider!

JAMES HANDY

Oh pish posh. Just because Henry told his wife that he’d been bitten by a spider seconds before he died, and there have been two other cases of people inexplicably falling down dead over the past week or so, and this was all immediately preceded by the arrival of a death crate from Venezuela okay you know what I can’t do this man! I’m not cut out for this level of horseshit movie-idiot skepticism, I’m gonna investigate your spider theory like a rational human being.

JEFF DANIELS

Weak, dude. You didn’t even last one scene.

INT. FOOTBALL COACH’S HOUSE

While JEFF and JAMES are off investigating the SPIDER MURDER SPREE, a couple of the SPIDERS have invaded the house of that FOOTBALL COACH.

HYBRID SPIDER

Okay, there’s been some pretty big talk about us not being scary monsters, but now’s our chance to really show how terrifying a threat we-

The SPIDER is ACCIDENTALLY WASHED DOWN A DRAIN.

HYBRID SPIDER

WELL THIS IS A LOW POINT GLUB GLUB GLUB

The COACH calls JOHN to take out the remaining SPIDER. He comes and sprays it with industrial-strength BUG POISON, but it just shakes it off like a golden retriever.

HYBRID SPIDER

Heh heh heh, you fool, your puny insecticides are useless against us! What are you gonna do now, punk?! BWA HA HA HA-

JOHN casually strolls over and STEPS ON THE SPIDER.

HYBRID SPIDER

(featureless paste)

This whole sequence hasn’t helped our case very much.

Alerted about the incident, JEFF and JAMES comes to search the house for other SPIDERS, accompanied by JULIAN and his assistant BRIAN McNAMARA, freshily summoned from Venezuela.

JULIAN SANDS

Hey, check out this dead specimen. It seems these spiders have no reproductive organs and just sort of spontaneously die after a few days.

JEFF DANIELS

Oh, kinda like worker bees. If worker bees didn’t go out and collect pollen but instead wandered around and attacked random people for no reason and then died without having accomplished anything whatsoever.

JULIAN SANDS

It doesn’t make much sense, sure, but it does nicely set up that hacky old trope where we only have to kill the queen and we win. But we must act fast! If the queen births new queens they can start other colonies, and humanity is finished!

JEFF DANIELS

Are you really trying to sell this as an apocalypse after the spiders have killed a grand total of three people?

JULIAN SANDS

We can still get the numbers up. After all, our next step is to go talk to the coroner who took delivery of Mark’s coffin, and knowing this movie’s love of stupidly coincidental character deaths...

Sure enough, when they go to the CORONER’S HOUSE they find THE CORONER and his WIFE sitting DEAD IN FRONT OF THE TV!

JEFF DANIELS

Oh no, a spider bit them! ...Both at the same time, by the looks of things? That’s one talented spider.

JULIAN SANDS

Damn, we’re out of leads. Unless we can stumble across another clue now that will lead us to the nest. Or better yet, TWO SEPARATE YET SIMULTANEOUS CLUES so we can split up and then get to the nest independently of one another.

JEFF and JULIAN go their separate ways. BUT THEN:

JEFF DANIELS

Oh hey, if you look at a map of all the attacks, they form a neat equidistant circle around my house! I need to get there right away! And I will of course bring spider expert Brian and professional bug killer John with me, as I’m not a total idiot.

BRIAN MCNAMARA

Shouldn’t you call your family first and warn them to get the hell out of there?

JEFF DANIELS

I never said I wasn’t a PARTIAL idiot.

MEANWHILE, back at JEFF’S OFFICE:

JULIAN SANDS

Hey look at these photos of spiderwebs! Jeff’s wife randomly decided to take some photos of spiderwebs, and then Jeff, a severe arachnophobe, decided to frame them and hang them on his wall! Sure, that makes sense!

(rushes to car)

And now I will go to Jeff’s barn, and I, a leading spider expert, will bring absolutely NOBODY with me, but instead wander right into the nest with no protective gear or equipment, and start calling out to the queen, hoping to just grab it with my bare hands or something! Apparently I AM a total idiot.

He goes and ENACTS THIS PLAN and gets INSTANTLY DEADED.

INT. JEFF’S HOUSE

JEFF, JOHN and BRIAN show up at the HOUSE, where HARLEY and the KIDS are.

JEFF DANIELS

Guys, get moving, this place is the spider capital of the world and we need to get out of here immediately!

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

Relax honey, if the spiders live here they’ve clearly been ignoring us for weeks. What are the chances they’d suddenly all change their minds and decide that we have to die?

JEFF DANIELS

I don’t think you appreciate just how contrived and blatantly plot-driven spider attacks tend to be around these parts.

At that moment approximately TEN MILLION SPIDERS start pouring out of EVERY CORNER OF THE HOUSE and SWARMING AT THE PROTAGONISTS.

SPIDERS

Oh wait, so THIS is how tiny spiders can be scary! Damn, we’ve been doing it wrong. Can we get a do-over on this whole movie?

JOHN uses his suddenly-effective PESTICIDES to help fight off the SPIDERS as the family races to escape the HOUSE. They all get out of there except JEFF, who instead manages to FALL through the CHEKHOV’S FLOOR into the BASEMENT.

JEFF DANIELS

Wait a minute - what’s a giant spider and a huge egg sack doing down here? Holy crap, the nest isn’t in my barn, it’s HERE! ...Wow, so Julian managed to get himself chump-murdered by a giant spider even though he wasn’t looking in the correct location for giant spiders. That’s embarrassing.

The QUEEN SPIDER attacks!

JEFF DANIELS

All right! Time for the climactic showdown between man and insect! Let the fight-

(spider touches his arm)

EEEEEEK IT’S ON ME IT’S ON ME

He PANIC-FLAILS and sends the queen flying into some ELECTRICAL STUFF where it gets FRIED and immediately DIES.

JEFF DANIELS

Oh. Oops. That, er... was a bit of an anticlimax. We don’t happen to have another boss fight anywhere around, do we?

At that moment the original GIANT SPIDER FROM VENEZUELA appears!

JEFF DANIELS

Aha, there we go! And this time I’m sure I’ll manage to not be a total useless spaz.

He FLINCHES into some TINY, EMPTY SHELVES and they COLLAPSE ON HIM and he is PINNED DOWN.

JEFF DANIELS

Alack! Totally immobilized by about two pounds of balsa wood! I wish to flee the spider, but nothing can be done about the flimsy little shelves which are visibly wobbling around on my back like bricks of styrofoam!

Eventually he manages to get out from under the SHELVES and starts fighting the SPIDER.

GIANT SPIDER

HHSSSS!

JEFF DANIELS

(hurling bottles)

Take this, monster!

GIANT SPIDER

HHSSS!

JEFF DANIELS

(using makeshift flamethrower)

I will defeat you!

GIANT SPIDER

HHSSS!

JEFF DANIELS

(shitting pants)

Oh no, the spider’s behavior, which has not changed even slightly at any point of this climax, has suddently paralyzed me with fear!! I guess you’re gonna use the same ninja-leap insta-bite move on me as you did Julian, right?

GIANT SPIDER

Eh, I don't want to repeat myself. I figure this time I’ll veeerrry sloooowwwwly wander onto your leg, and then like, just stand still for several seconds.

(hobbles over with zimmer frame)

Hold on, hold on, I’m coming.

JEFF DANIELS

Oh. Fine. Anticlimax Number Two it is.

He flicks the GIANT SPIDER into some FIRE and it DIES.

HARLEY JANE KOZAK

Hooray, honey, you did it! And now all the pieces are in place for you to build a great life here. You’ve overcome your fear of spiders, you’ve made some fast friends by saving the whole town, and not to be morbid but with Henry out of the way you have all the patients you could ever need. So, happily ever after in this small country town, right?

JEFF DANIELS

NOPE, FUCK THIS HICK SHITHEAP DEATH TRAP WE’RE GOING BACK TO THE BIG CITY FOREVER BYYYEEE

(flees town forever)

The movie ACTUALLY ENDS LIKE THAT.

END.

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