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Jeff Fenner


[Rear View] Now That’s a ‘Big Ass Spider!’


February 20, 2014

An alien spider has escaped from a military laboratory and is growing larger by the minute as it unleashes its arachnid fury on the unsuspecting city of Los Angeles.

The military has failed to stop it, and it has climbed to the top of one of Los Angeles’ tallest skyscrapers to lay its eggs and unleash another wave a diabolical offspring when suddenly a man in a green and yellow uniform steps in and saves the day (and gets the girl!).

No, this isn’t the service log of a real-life pest control technician but the plot for Epic Picture’s comedy/sci-fi thriller “Big Ass Spider!” which debuted in theaters and video-on-demand in October. (The DVD was released last month.) The movie prominently features Western Exterminator Company’s iconic trademark Mr. Little, aka The Little Man with the Hammer.

The plot centers around a giant alien spider that unleashes a rampage on Los Angeles and after a massive military strike fails to stop the creature, it falls to a team of scientists and one clever Western Exterminator technician to kill the creature before the entire city is destroyed.

The movie stars veteran character actor and real-life 15-year Western Exterminator customer, Greg Grunberg, as a wise-cracking and fast-thinking Western Exterminator service technician named Alex Mathis who must protect Los Angeles from this killer arachnid that no one can stop.

Western Exterminator President Michael Katz says the company was approached in August 2011 by the movie’s producers to have not just a cameo role in the film, but the starring lead role in exchange for use of the company’s uniform, logo and service trucks.

“Being in Los Angeles we have been approached numerous times over the years to participate in movies,” says Katz. “As a result we have developed a process that includes us reviewing the script and seeing how Western and the industry will be portrayed in the film.”

Katz says after reviewing the script and gaining assurances that the film would have a good dose of humor weaved into the sci-fi plot, Western decided to sign on to the project.

“Our participation in the film was going to provide some good visibility and brand awareness for us, and we thought it would be a fun project to be involved with,” adds Katz. “The only change that came about was the name; when we signed on the working title was ‘Mega Spider’ so we didn’t do as much with our residential customer base in the way of advertising for ‘Big Ass Spider!’ as we might have with Mega Spider. Still, it’s a fun film and a great way to get our brand seen by a new audience.”

The film’s producers visited with Western’s Los Angeles Service Center team to go over terminology and get ideas on how exactly would you kill a giant spider, and star Grunberg spent time with his service technician learning some pointers about the job.

The film also featured several unique Western Exterminator traditions including a scene where Alex Mathis answers his phone with the signature company greeting, “Thank you for calling Western Exterminator, where we care,” as he was being chased in his service vehicle by the giant spider. Western colleagues also got a kick out of Grunberg and co-star Lombardo Boyer who each bounced The Little Man’s hammer when they walked past the iconic statue on the back of the truck stating, “We all do that, and our customers do, too!”

The film was shown at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Film Festival, where it earned Official Selection status; Imagine Film Festival in the Netherlands, the U.K.’s Dead by Dawn Film Festival and the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It received positive reviews from critics.

The company also presented a special screening of the film for the industry in October during NPMA PestWorld 2013, as well as a fundraising screening in November, which benefited PCOC Cares, the charity arm of the Pest Control Operators of California.

No word yet if there is a sequel in the works but can you imagine if they brought Big Ass Rodent or Big Ass Bed Bug to the big screen? — PCT Contributor Jeff Fenner

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