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EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS

About The Location
How convenient would it be if a location scout hunting for a spacious defunct mall and an abandoned mine were to discover both properties, as if made to order, within a short drive of one another? This was the good fortune that befell Location Manager Alan Benoit, who discovered the historic mining town of Superior, Arizona, some 60 miles east of Phoenix, and the hull of a mall in nearby Glendale that was ideally suited for the filmmakers' needs.

Many of the original elements of the mine remained intact for exterior shots, including an impressive 200-foot steel tower that rises above the vertical entrance, known since 1910 as the Magma Copper Company's Silver Queen, from which cable and workers would be lowered deep into the multi-leveled shaft.

Unfortunately, shooting inside the existing mine tunnels was impractical, since they lay over half a mile below the surface and were extremely tight, but the production was able to solve this problem by returning to the mall. While the filmmakers shot scenes of townspeople fighting off giant spiders in the mall's central hallways, the art department was busy constructing over 150 feet of fiberglass and wood to reproduce the mine tunnels in what used to be expansive department store floor space.

Their timing was perfect. Superior's barren copper mine was scheduled for restoration by its owner, BHP Copper, but the work wasn't set to begin for some months, allowing the production to meet their filming needs comfortably. "The week after we left," says Benoit, "a group of geologists moved in to conduct a feasibility study toward re-opening the mine to explore a possible rich vein just to the south of the original."

The town is experiencing a cultural restoration as well, due to a recent population growth spurt, construction of a modern new high school and in particular, an influx of artists who are making plans to build galleries and transform the former high school site into a working arts space. But for the moment, the production was free to use the old high school facility as an effects shop. "In two years," says Benoit, "what we did wouldn't be possible."

The production also appreciated the Arizona location for its spectacular desert scenery and the quiet roads needed for several scenes in which horrified motorists skid all over the pavement to avoid giant spiders. Surrounding low hills were well suited for concealing the arachnids until the moment they sprang onto unsuspecting dirt-bikers.

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