Jeff Daniels in Arachonophobia | Image: Amblin Entertainment
Frank Marshall's 1990 dark comedy Arachnophobia used hundreds of spiders during filming. Three hundred Australian huntsman spiders alone were flown in every two weeks. But as with all film work that's done with untrainable species, film delays are numerous while everyone waits for the critters to do what they're needed to do. Sometimes it takes trial and error. Sometimes it takes creativity. Even creativity in the form of Lemon Pledge!
Steven Kutcher, spider wrangler for the film project said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly,
“You can’t actually teach them to do anything,. You just watch what they do, then figure out how you can apply it to what you want them to do.”
While working with the spiders, Kutcher discovered that they hated Lemon Pledge, because it made their feet sticky. He used that fact to his advantage, applying it in lines on the set to get them to move in the direction he wanted. Wires were also strung and hairdryers used to guide the arachnids. In times that called for more exacting movement, according to the New York Times,
"To keep spiders in a relatively contained area, they are put to sleep with carbon dioxide, and tiny monofilament ''leashes'' are attached by wax to their abdomens. And for really complicated shots, minuscule steel plates are glued to the spiders with wax; electromagnets behind a wall then move them to the places where the script calls for them to be."
Read more fascinating facts about Arachnophobia at Mental Floss.