Fear of spiders is as common as fear of tax self-assessment so I bet you know someone who can’t sit in a room once they’ve spotted one of those eight-legged freaks. My own fear of spiders was relatively manageable until my father, who was at the time working at a large London market, told me that they opened the tropical fruit boxes with extreme care for fear of any hairy interlopers which may be contained within. And that on one occasion there was a spider scary enough to warrant a short evacuation. My father’s a git.
Anyway, when people have a collective fear of something, urban legends are born. The recent one concerns the fear born from such stories of fruit-assisted invasion: that escaped poisonous spiders have mated with our harmless but creepy looking garden spiders and their hybrid offspring are scampering about biting unsuspecting sunbathers and slug scrapers, causing their untimely demise. It didn’t happen to anyone I know but my friend’s friend told her it happened. So, where better to look for a hybrid spider survival guide then that celluloid ode to the fear of spiders, Arachnophobia (1990).
As spiders do not discriminate in who they sink their fangs into, there are no rules or sequence to the death pattern and the annoying can survive until late on in proceedings. So don’t count on your snarky neighbour succumbing before you do. The first person to die in Arachnophobia, photographer Manley, goes to photograph bugs in the Venezuelan jungle and was a little annoying, granted, but so would you be if your photographic forte was sporting events and you ended your days on earth by tangling in ginormous spiderwebs. The next two people to die are also perfectly nice and don’t do much to incite the wrath of the malevolent hybrid spiders. The next deaths are truer to the horror film style in that the arrogant doctor and the disgusting undertaker take their rightful place amongst the dead.
Having studied this film for clues on vulnerable situations and perilous actions, I can recommend the following courses of action;
Don’t install a cat flap; those poisonous suckers can totally use Prince Tibs’ private entrance in and out of your home. Don’t kill any spider you see in the house; mama spider is always watching and she’ll get her revenge (death no. 1). If you put the spider outside, don’t put it in a lovely dark barn because that’s where all the poisonous hybrid magic happens.
Don’t turn off any lights (death no. 2); you’ll need to leave the lights on to inspect every square centimetre and besides, lampshades are ideal hiding places for those critters. The dark is now your enemy. Don’t take part in any sport where you have to wear a helmet (death no. 3). In fact, stop wearing hats at all. The same goes for shoes (death no. 4), unless you are prepared to wear steel-toe capped boots and explode a little bomb inside each one every time you put them on. Scorpions also like to hide inside shoes so you’d only be doing the necessary. Don’t get in the shower. Never own a dark and dusty cellar. If you do, your only option now is to move. Don’t move to the countryside.
Look at what you’re eating. Don’t chuff your popcorn like you haven’t eaten in two hours because you might get a handful of something other than salty or sweet microwave-popped goodness (death no. 5). Last, but not least, you must procure a nailgun. They’re handy for shooting egg sacs and some other household uses, such as shooting other things.
The most important lesson to be learned is that a healthy phobia of spiders can only be a good thing. Sure, you might lie awake on a regular basis, as Jeff Daniels did, thinking that a decorative wall hook is in fact a massive bird-eating spider but you’ll be fully prepared to flail and shriek with the best of them when the spider-geddon eventually comes to town.