Dedicated to: Grayfox, TheDarkAlbino, and anyone else who hates spiders
Bet you thought I was done, huh? Well, so did I for a little while there. Truth be told, the avalanche of games that has released this fall has left me staggered, in true Elder Scrolls fashion (if you want to know a little about what I’ve been doing, check out my Let’s Play of Morrowind, currently in progress, on my YouTube channel). Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to be. As I said when I started this blog, this blog is not supposed to be only about video games, but rather about media as a whole. Put another way, I’m using GamesRadar and Laser Time as a model more than I am GameSpot or Kotaku. Honestly, I’m not much of a review guy. I always check out at least one review before I buy a game, but opinions are so subjective that I rarely know how I’ll feel about a game based on a written/video review, let alone a score. Plus, reviews take up a lot of time, (my Deus Ex review was a giant undertaking) time that I’d rather spend playing a game or writing something more entertaining, which leads me to today’s topic: my top 5 scariest fictional spiders of all time.
Why so many caveats? Well, if we were talking about real as well as imaginary spiders, this would have to be a much longer list. And if we included spiders that weren’t scary, Charlotte from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web would be so far ahead of the competition that any others wouldn’t be worth talking about. As a final condition, I won’t be including any spider/human hybrids, or any other kind of spider hybrids for that matter. If I were, Man-Spider from the 90s Spiderman cartoon would take the cake. Spiders that happen to be robots are allowed, however. You’ll see why…and, no, it’s not that stupid spider transformer from Beast Wars.
But why talk about spiders now, when the world is brimming with holiday cheer and people are emptying their bank accounts? Well, you may be surprised to learn that I’m not a fan of the holiday season. Sure, I get excited about seeing old friends and family and receiving gifts as much as anyone, but I’d prefer people were happy and generous throughout the year. The holidays seem to be an excuse for everyone to be less-than-jolly the rest of the time. But let’s cut this musing short: join me in some good holiday backlash and keep the awesomeness that is Halloween alive. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
In order from least scary to the most mindbending, horrific, vicious, destructive wallcrawler ever:
Two honorable mentions from my youth:
Queen Gohma from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
This game is not for kids
She may not look like much or even pose a threat to experienced OoT players, but the first time you see Gohma’s solitary eye staring at you from across her vast cavern lair…well, let’s just say Link might have to change his tunic after this fight. As if she weren’t creepy enough by herself, Gohma will lay eggs periodically during the battle which will hatch into spiderlings which will make an even harder time for Link. Furthermore, this mama killed the mother-f***ing Great Deku Tree, the magical guardian of the entire Kokiri Forest. I say, don’t be ashamed if your three measly hearts get taken away over and over again by this royal pain-in-the-ass arachnid.
Next up, it’s: Metroid Prime, first form from…you guessed it, Metroid Prime
One of the best final boss fights ever and a two-stager to boot
The ultimate combination of pure Phazon and pure evil, Metroid Prime provided the perfect capstone to an amazing game. And it scared the shit out of you. When this behemoth comes barreling towards Samus at mach speed in this tiny cave (are all spider boss fights in caves?), not even your morph ball ability will save you. MP can bring down even the most savvy Samuses if the player doesn’t spend some extra time during the game finding hidden upgrades and power-ups. Like its smaller brethren (the colored metroids near the end of the game) Metroid Prime won’t take any damage unless you employ the correct weapon at the correct time. If MP changes colors and catches you off guard, it will laugh off your attacks like they were nothing. Even if you manage to bring it down, MP has a final trick up its several proverbial sleeves. Metroid Prime’s second form is a giant, blue, transparent, flying octopus monster from hell. The phazon beam makes short work of it, though. The first form will always be the more memorable and the more terrifying of the two.
those eyes...can't. stop. staring.
What could possibly be more scary and more impressive than the above two contenders? I’m glad you asked. May I present the main event:
#5 The Fully Mobile Robotic Spider Fortress of Doom from Wild Wild West
(At first I thought of including the fortress from God Hand in this spot as well, but it turns out that thing is actually called the Kilo Crab! Sadly, there are no crabs allowed here. I couldn’t resist an opportunity to mention God Hand anyway, though, so go play it on the PSN now.)
What does Loveless have? He has an 80-foot tarantula...
How do you make a giant spider more scary? Make it enormous; add thugs, rocket launchers, and flamethrowers to taste; and throw in a pinch of evil genius mastermind. Bring to a boil and serve. Just when you thought Artemus Gordon and Captain James West couldn’t get into any worse trouble, this 1999 Barry Sonnenfeld film pulls out all the stops and delivers a shock. While most people probably don’t think this is a good movie (a 4.4 out of 10 on IMDb, really?), my ten-year-old self thinks it has a lot of charm, and nothing excites a boy more than a giant robot. Heck, it still excites me more than most things. I can’t conceive how Loveless expected to take over the entire country with only one giant spider that Will Smith and Kevin Cline take down surprisingly easily by themselves, but one thing’s for sure: it would be a hell of a time driving that thing down Wall Street. And the scariest thing ever to see it lolloping over the horizon towards your small, fragile midwestern town from your bedside window. Moving on…
#4: Chaos Witch Quelaag from Dark Souls
ummm...I think I'll go hold myself and cry next to the Firelink Shrine now...
Okay. You’ve killed the cheapass Capra Demon, SOMEHOW. You’ve bested the stupid, trap-laden sewers with those godawful curse-spewing frogs and defeated the vagina dragon by the skin of your teeth. THEN you wander into the worst place you’ve encountered so far: Blighttown, a swamp inhabited by a hoard of monsters Lovecraft would be proud to invite to a dinner party. Only Lost Izalith can boast a higher level of frustration and torture in this game. Ogres, giant mosquitoes, giant leeches, hell-hounds, angry natives, more bugs (and glitches), terrible framerate, cheap invaders from other worlds, and a poison landscape all stand between you and one mother of a monster. When you finally do climb up the large hill and enter her cave lair (another cave…) seemingly made almost entirely of spider silk, you are welcomed by the guardian of Hell herself: Quelaag. Now I know I said no spider/human hybrids….buuut we’re going to give Quelaag a pass since she’s mostly spider and only a little bit human. I mean, we all know the lady parts were only added so the trailer could have a little nudity anyway.
Make no mistake, though; this bitch it out for blood. Her flaming Fury Sword makes sweeping arcs as she skitters across the battlefield, spitting lava on the floor that does not exactly agree with would-be adventurers, be they in human or zombie form. Try not to shiver when you see this monstrosity charge at your face. Dark Souls does cheap scares better than most games, and Quelaag is one of the best examples of this. If you do defeat her and use her soul, you are rewarded with her badass, curved sword, one of the best weapons in the game. Tell me that isn’t awesome. Also, if you agree to enter her mute sister’s covenant, you get to have an egg for a head for the entirety of your employment…which is just plain weird.
And that's no yolk
#3: Aragog from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Go? I think not. My sons and daughters do not harm Hagrid on my command, but I cannot deny them fresh meat when it wanders so willingly into our midst. Goodbye, friends of Hagrid.
Regular spiders may flee from a basilisk, but one wonders how a fight between an ancient leader of a hoard of eight-legged freaks and one solitary giant snake might conclude. I rarely got scared reading the Harry Potter books, but Aragog, a basilisk, and a serial killer make Chamber of Secrets one of the darkest books in the series. And this is supposed to be for children? He may be blind, but Aragog has survived longer than any other spider in the Forbidden Forest, possibly any other creature therein. And ya, he lives in the freaking Forbidden Forest, the place where Voldemort himself had his midlife/middeath-crisis vacation. And this guy doesn’t give a shit about anyone but him and his own. He spares Hagrid on principle, but not even Hagrid’s closest friends are off-limits. Which brings up another point: an entire army of spiders are so afraid of this guy that they won’t even try to eat Hagrid. Now that’s real power, power even Voldemort would be jealous of. If not for sheer dumb luck and Arthur’s magical-deus-ex-machina-car to the rescue, the Boy Who Lived would have been the Boy Who Tried A Little But Ultimately Couldn’t Face the Horrors of the World and Who Could Blame Him. Yes, Ron, you can panic now.
#2: Shelob from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
let's see...a giant venomous spider...versus a midgit with a toothpick and a flashlight...
One could argue that Frodo came closest to dying during his encounter with Shelob. And, for all intents and purposes, he should have been dead. REALLY dead. Frodo is almost at the end of his rope at this point. He’s gone mad with the power of the ring. He doesn’t trust Sam. He doesn’t even HAVE Sam around. Gollum leads him into the trap so easily Aragorn would have slapped Frodo silly had he known, and yet, somehow, Frodo lives. I guess it’s all well and good that the world got saved and the armies of Mordor were vanquished and all that, but Shelob got completely robbed.
If you didn’t jump in your theater seat the first time you saw her stinger slide down behind Frodo in the movie, you have a spine of lead. If Sam hadn’t come along and had the necessary tools, Frodo would have been a delicious spider-Slurpee long before anyone knew Sauron had already won. Elderly, evil, and enthusiastic about taking her time, Shelob is a classy, classy villain. Frodo better just thank his lucky stars that she saves her food for later. If you don’t think Shelob deserves to be on this list, just read Tolkien’s masterful description from the book:
And as for Sauron: he knew where she lurked. It pleased him that she should dwell there hungry but unabated in malice, a more sure watch upon that ancient path into his land than any other that his skill could have devised. And Orcs, they were useful slaves, but he had them in plenty. If now and again Shelob caught them to stay her appetite, she was welcome: he could spare them. And sometimes as a man may cast a dainty to his cat (his cat he calls her, but he owns her not) Sauron would send her prisoners that he had no better uses for: he would have them driven to her hole, and report brought back to him of the play she made.
Maybe the movie from 1990 didn’t have the budget or the technology to make IT in its final revealed form as scary as it should have been, but no one can deny the terror this book induces in all who read it. And Tim Curry was still extremely scary. Again, I guess you could argue this is a hybrid of sorts, but gimme a break; IT just plain rules at scary. I mean, I’ll ask again, what’s worse than a giant spider? How about a giant, alien, supernatural god-spider that masquerades as children’s worst nightmares, most notably a psychotic killer clown, and awakens from its slumber deep beneath the sewers of Derry, Maine to feed on children every 27 years before slipping back into hibernation and starting the whole cycle over again. I mean, this book/movie ruined red balloons for me, which only goes to show how great a storyteller Stephen King is. In the end, the protagonists do defeat the creature, but it takes them half their lives to put a stop to something that terrorized them when they were children. Talk about repressed issues. For god’s sake, the book opens with one of the protagonists committing suicide in his bathtub because he knows that IT has come back! If something can make you so scared that you’d rather be dead than face it just by the sound of its voice, then keep me the hell away! The best part about IT is that it’s a true Lovecraftian horror; an otherwordly, intelligent monster we can never understand who creates madness, death and chaos wherever it chooses to call home. In the end, that’s really what being a spider is all about, and that’s why IT is the best fictional scary spider.
Well, that’s it folks! I certainly hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Spiders are some of my favorite creatures, and I look forward to them popping up in books, movies, and games for decades to come. I’m even considering owning a tarantula some day, but until I find an apartment that allows pets I’ll just have to admire them from a safe distance.
Hello, I'm a non-fictional spider!
Did you like my article? Hate it? Did I forget your favorite spider? Let me know by leaving me a comment and/or a rating below!