31 Days of Hell: Kingdom of the Spiders

Arachnophobes rejoice!!! Shatner is here to...destroy....the....spiders. 

"Spock. I've discovered a planet
of spiders...and they want
to violate me."
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) is a science fiction/ horror film that plays on the theme of nature's uprising against man. William Shatner stars as Rack Hanson, the coolest beer drinking veterinarian cowboy in Verde Valley, Arizona. When a colony of tarantulas begin attacking the local livestock, it's up to Rack and arachnologist Diana Ashley to discover what is making the animals so aggressive. As the bizarre occurrence manifests into a full blown epidemic, the town of Verde Valley becomes besieged with SPIDERS!

This film is quite possible the most Shat-tastic movie of the beloved actor’s career. Shatner's signature over the top dramatic performance is on full display. Its a glorious experience of hammed up intensity. The script often called for Shatner to be covered with live tarantulas. These scenes are particularly memorable, and Bill doesn’t disappoint. The conflict to laugh or cringe may have some viewers meeting somewhere in the middle.

There are so many over the top elements in this film, it's hard not to enjoy just for the cheese factor. Spiders seem to materialize out of no where. Where ever you look there are spiders. In the electrical panel, in the car, and in the crop duster! Spiders and more spiders. I especially enjoyed the use of shots filmed from the spiders perspective (Spider Cam!) as the camera skims just over the ground.

"Just when I thought old age
couldn't get any worse, I die
like this. There is no god."
One important thing to note, Kingdom of the Spiders would have been filmed much differently if it was made today. The production used authentic live Mexican tarantulas, and some of the hairy Arachnids died during shooting. As called for in the script, many were stomped on by panicked town folks as they stampeded through town. While the stomping happens in the distance of a chaotic scene, it’s easy to pick out in the film. I'm not a fan of the creepy eight legged crawlers of death myself, but it is bizarre to think a movie could have been made with such neglect.

In all, 50,000 tarantulas were purchased to create the large scale spider invasion. It certainly creates some impressive shots. If spiders give you creeps, This film will no doubt feed your arachnophobia. It's not the most realistic nature take over film, but the massive swarm of live spiders does give the viewer an idea of what an actual spider outbreak would look like. It's not a pretty sight. Luckily for the viewers, there are plenty of "unintentional" comedic distractions.

-Lee Lind