Arachnophobia: 7 Facts About This Creepy-Crawly Thriller

John Goodman in Arachnophobia

Amblin Entertainment / Hollywood Pictures

Hitting cinemas back in 1990, Arachnophobia has been making audiences check their shoes for spiders for over three decades! The film focuses on a deadly South American spider that hitches a ride to the United States in a coffin, breeds like crazy, and causes havoc in a sleepy town! Here are 7 pieces of trivia about the film… 

1) John Goodman’s hollow-soled boot

When it came to the welfare of the live spiders that were used during the making of the film, the team went to great lengths to prevent any harm coming to the little critters! In one scene, where John Goodman’s character, McLintock the exterminator, stomps on a spider, they actually used a boot with a hollowed-out sole, so that it would trap the spider instead of killing it. 

2) Natural causes 

If any shots of dead spiders needed to be filmed, the crew had to be very particular about which arachnid corpses they would use for propping. They would only use spiders that had died of natural causes. 

3) Big bob 

The huge spider that gets into the coffin at the start of the film was actually a bird eating tarantula. At the time of filming, there was only one in the whole of the US. Frank Marshall, who directed the movie, decided to call the spider ‘Big Bob’ after his friend Robert Zemeckis. 

The general spider in Arachnophobia
Amblin Entertainment / Hollywood Pictures

4) One of the Mythbusters built the animatronic Big Bob double

Near the end of the film, the characters face off against the enormous bird eating tarantula, which the director had nicknamed Big Bob. Whilst a live spider was used for some of the filming, a mechanical double had to be built for some of the scenes. This job went to none other than Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters! As he often says on the show, he used to work in movie effects, and this animatronic spider was one of the first movie props he created. 

5) Steven Spielberg hid in the footwell?

In a video with GQ, John Goodman revealed that when they were filming a shot of his exterminator truck travelling down a road, the world-renowned director Steven Spielberg (who executive produced the movie) was crouching down in the passenger footwell. Spielberg said, ‘only we will know I was here.’ 

6) Vibrating wires and furniture wax were used to guide the spiders 

Since spiders can’t actually be trained to perform on queue, the handlers and filmmakers used other means to direct the movements of the arachnids. If they wanted the spider to scurry down a certain route, they would coat the sides of the route with lemon furniture wax. The spiders wouldn’t ever walk on the wax, so they had to stick to the path the filmmakers had carved out for them. 

7) Spielberg helped John Goodman land the role 

John Goodman landed the memorable part of Delbert (the exterminator character) with a little help from his director pal, Steven Spielberg. Spielberg apparently told the studio he’d only executive produce Arachnophobia if they gave the exterminator role to Goodman. 

Arachnophobia Trailer

There you have it – 7 fun facts about Arachnophobia!