How can you not love a film that has an opening scene where a 200 lb calf is stalked by a tarantula? The spider POV is right out of Jaws, for the attack itself they throw 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, which pits local veterinarian Dr. Rack Hansen (William Shatner) against a horde of bloodthirsty arachnids. Animals may be first on the menu that changes quickly as these eight legged critters start knocking off the locals as well, but 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. Sound familiar? And the makers of this film didn’t want to limit themselves to ripping off Jaws as there is a “meet cute” between Shatner and the movies love interest where she mistakes him for a garage attendant, and he plays along with her assumption. Those of you who have seen The Birds will be rolling your eyes during this scene.
Entomologist/love interest Dr Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) discovers that the these spiders have five times the level of toxicity of normal tarantulas, and deduces that the use of DDTs has killed off the normal food source of the spiders 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. A small group led by Shatner make their way up to the local lodge and barricade themselves in, while in town the populace is running around in mass hysteria as spiders overrun, kill and cocoon what every they can get their tiny little fangs into. At the lodge things don’t fair much better as the phone doesn’t work (switchboard operator cocooned), and the spiders cut the power by crawling into the fuse box and short circuiting it.
I won’t give away the ending for those few out there that haven’t seen this flick, but let’s just say it’s a real kicker. As rip-offs and cheap 70s horror flicks go it does have some great visuals to offer. 10,000 real spiders were used and the sight of them crawling over their victims is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl, and especially if it’s over the prone body of a small child. So for those who like a good insect versus man film I can easily recommend Kingdom of the Spiders, and those connoisseurs of Shatner this is a must see. His Rack Hansen is a bigger sexual predator than Kirk ever was, he strings along his widowed sister-in-law while making moves on the pretty blonde entomologist. Luckily the spiders narrow his options for him.
So run don’t walk to your local video store, and pick up the king of all spider movies, then sit back for a fun night of creepy crawlies.