Arachnophobia’s Spider Wrangler Invented A Genius Technique For Controlling Spiders – SlashFilm


Kutcher said that finding a good spider species suitable for filming was a month-long process. He and Jules Sylvester, another one of the film world’s more notable bug wranglers, cycled through various species, hoping to find bugs that were willing to climb around actively on film sets. Spiders can’t really be trained, so they had to have a natural inclination for “performance,” as it were. He found that the Australian species delena cancerides, also known as the Avondale spider, fit the bill perfectly. Avondale spiders have inch-long bodies, long legs, and vicious-looking “fangs.” They hide under bark and tend to lay flat, spreading their legs in a scary fashion. Despite their scary faces, Avondale spiders are not venomous and tend to leave humans alone. They’re also social animals and tend to live in large colonies, making the “Arachnophobia” climax that much easier to shoot; of course there will be a scene where Jeff Daniels has to face off against hundreds of spiders at once.

Kutcher ordered 500 Avondales from New Zealand, and they were off to the races. The spider races. Specifically, the spider races into a human slipper. 

To convince a spider to climb into the slipper, Kutcher needed to invent a new technique to push a spider along. Ordinarily, to push a spider, a bug wrangler will construct a miniature wire “fence” to bump the bug in a certain direction. That wasn’t an option for “Arachnophobia,” however, as the fence would be visible from the camera angle Frank Marshall wanted.

Kutcher, rather brilliantly, attached two pieces of thin tungsten wire to a pair of small vibrating motors. The wire shook so quickly, it wouldn’t be seen on film.

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