Your biggest phobia. Go.


Alana with the mystery bug.


Phobias are weird things. I have a friend who goes totally spare if she sees a balloon, which seems an odd thing to frighten a 45-year-old woman.  But each to their own freak outs.

Me, I’m scared of spiders.

So I had to take a few deep breaths when I went to the DVD launch of Epic recently at the Los Angeles County Arboretum &  Botanic Garden.  One of the activities that had been organised to get a mob of international journalists excited about the movie was the chance to meet a lovely bloke called Ken the Bug Guy.

Ken wrangles insects for a living (next time you’re in the market for a pet creepy crawly, he’s your man, check out his website here). That’s my idea of hell – especially the tarantulas.

This is a scary, scary spider.

I am not only scared of spiders, I am PETRIFIED of them. And Australia is full of scary ones – we have some of the most venemous types in the world.

The knowledge, for example, that funnel web spiders can fall into swimming pools and survive for up to 24 hours by trapping air bubbles on hairs around their abdomen haunts me.

Watching Ken wrangle an enormous tarantula in a plastic box made me nauseous just looking at it. But then I thought, you know I should face my fears and stop being so scared of spiders.

He offered to put the hairy thing on my hand … but I wasn’t quite prepared to face my fears quite that thoroughly. So I settled for holding the plastic container.

And almost dropped it when the big-as-a-saucer thing decided to try and push the top off. Because it looked like this …

Alana with the mystery bug.

Jaysus, Joseph and Mary! That is SO not my idea of a cuddly pet.

Then he convinced me to hold some other giant scary insect. I’ve blanked out what it was called, but it looked like this.


Thankfully there aren’t any tarantulas in Epic. It’s actually one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve ever seen.

It tells the story of Mary Katherine who returns to her eccentric scientist father’s home after her mother dies and is frustrated by his all-consuming quest to discover a tiny civilization in the neighboring forest. But then M.K. finds herself shrunken down by the forest’s Queen Tara (voiced by Beyonce!) to save the pod bearing the new queen from the evil Boggans. She joins with Leafman warriors to help save their world.

I met the director Chris Wedge after Tim the bug man and he explained that the idea for the movie came to him when he attended an art exhibition of 100-year-old paintings that depicted intricate realms existing in the woods. But it took more than 10 years to bring the idea to the screen. He worked on the movie for 8 years, 5 of which were spent in production.

A scene from ‘Epic.’

“The idea for me was always to make it as lush as I could and as natural as I could. It’s not realism that I’m going after necessarily, but it’s just naturalism.”

The fiilm was made at Blue Sky Studios, where the animators used the forest (above) that surrounds the company’s headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut, for inspiration.

I have workplace envy … which is pretty rich considering the view from my office looks like this …

Epic is released on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD on Wednesday, October 23.

 Alana travelled courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Over to you, what’s your phobia? Are you scared of spiders like Alana?