Recently released on Blu-ray, “Arachnophobia” (1990, Disney, PG-13, $20) is an old-fashioned monster movie outfitted with newfangled special effects.
Exec-produced by Steven Spielberg, the film stars Jeff Daniels and Wilkes-Barre native Harley Jane Kozak as a San Francisco physician and photographer, respectively, who decide to move to the country with their children for some peace and quiet.
Little do Daniels and Kozak know that their barn is home to a rare tropical spider that can kill with one bite. In no time, the arachnids have spread all over town, and members of the community are dropping like, well, flies.
The film grows a bit redundant in the home stretch, but it does crawl with plenty of laughs, most of which are supplied by John Goodman as an exterminator who’s never met a bug he can’t kill.
Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, Kozak appeared in a number of high-profile films, including “Parenthood,” “The Favor” (which is best remembered as one of Brad Pitt’s early roles) and “All I Want For Christmas.” But in 2000, she retired from acting to raise her three children. She’s since written a series of mystery novels, three of which were published by Doubleday.
Kozak gives her character in “Arachnophobia” a tartness that complements Daniels beautifully. The NEPA native might never have become a big movie star, but she’s one of those actors who can spin a web of fascination out of even the most underwritten role.