Killer insect movies are certainly nothing new, in the 50s it seemed giant insects were everywhere, but for Kingdom of the Spiders we don’t get giant spiders instead we get a shit ton of them. Right out of the gate I knew I was going to enjoy this movie for how can one not love a film that has an opening scene where a 200 lb calf is stalked by a tarantula? Even better is the fact that the spider’s POV is right out of Jaws and the attack itself throws in the music sting from Psycho, and finally, to show us the complete brilliance of the filmmakers, they go for a tromboning zoom that wouldn’t look out of place in Dr Tongue’s 3D House of Pancakes.
Kingdom of the Spiders is your typical man against nature film common in the post-Jaws era where pits local veterinarian Dr. Rack Hansen (William Shatner) against a horde of bloodthirsty arachnids, and though animals may be first on the menu that changes rather quickly as these eight-legged critters start knocking off the locals as well. And why won’t the mayor listen to the warnings of Rack Hansen? Well because the County Fair is starting up and we certainly wouldn’t want to scare away those tourist dollars. Does that sound familiar to you? But the filmmakers didn’t want to limit themselves to ripping off just Jaws so we also have a “meet cute” between Shatner and the movie’s love interest where she mistakes him for a garage attendant, he of course plays along with her assumption because he’s a bit of a dick, and those of you who have seen The Birds will be rolling your eyes during this scene.
“Would you like to hear my rendition of Rocket Man?”
Entomologist/love interest Dr. Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) discovers that these spiders have five times the level of toxicity of normal tarantulas, which is certainly not good news for the locals, and she deduces that the use of DDTs has killed off their normal food source so now they are massing an army to move up the food chain. An attempt to spray the spider mounds with even stronger poison is thwarted when the pilot of the crop duster is bitten to death mid-flight, resulting in a fiery crash, and then a small group led by Shatner make their way up to the local lodge and barricade themselves in. Meanwhile in town the populace is running around in mass hysteria as spiders overrun the place as they kill, and cocoon what every they can get their tiny little fangs into. At the lodge things don’t fair much better the spiders cut the power by crawling into the fuse box and short-circuiting, and the phone doesn’t work because the spiders have been very, very busy.
“Please hang up and try your scream again.”
I won’t give away the ending for those few out there who haven’t seen this flick but let’s just say that it’s a real kicker. As rip-offs and cheap 70s horror flicks go Kingdom of the Spiders does have some great visuals to offer and some decent stunts, but it’s the ten thousand real spiders that were used and we see crawling over their victims that is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl.
So for those who like a good insect versus man film I can easily recommend Kingdom of the Spiders, and for those connoisseurs of the acting stylings of one William Shatner this is a must see as his Rack Hansen is a bigger sexual predator than Captain Kirk ever was. Case in point he strings along his widowed sister-in-law while making moves on the pretty blonde entomologist. This is supposed to be our hero?
So run, don’t walk, to your local video store (if you still have one), and pick up the king of all spider movies and then sit back for a fun night of creepy crawlies.