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Kingdom of the Spiders (1977).

July 28, 2009

The Scoop:
This entry in the late-’70s wave of evil spider movies is pretty much just like all the others — except this one has William Shatner, which really puts it over the top.

The Shat plays a studly cowboy veterinarian with the soap opera ready name of Rack Hansen who goes to a small Arizona town to investigate a rash of unexplained livestock deaths. It turns out, of course, that the deaths are caused by a gang of angry tarantulas who eventually take over the town, give everyone the willies and deliver an Important Ecological Lesson along the way. Basically, it starts out like “Jaws” and ends up like “The Birds.”

Veteran Z-grade exploitation star John “Bud” Cardos directed this and does a technically credible job. But the script from Alan Caillou and Richard Robinson is a turd, the supporting cast (including Woody Strode, Tiffany Bolling and Altovise Davis) is overwrought and Shatner has the smarm set on overdrive. Plus just about every ’70s ecological disaster film cliché is crammed onto the screen.

In other words, it’s a hoot. But if you have issues with spiders and couldn’t stomach the other spider movies, you won’t be able to stomach this one, either.

Best Line:
“I don’t think DDT’s gonna kill ’em.”

Side Note:
Cardos worked a lot of jobs behind the camera during his career on the fringes of Hollywood. But of most relevance here was his experience as a bird wrangler for Hitchcock on “The Birds.”

Companion Viewing:
“The Giant Spider Invasion” (1975) and “Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo” (1977).


Take a Look:
The trailer:

Check out the opening. It has everything you need — an awesome theme song, star quality bovine acting and sexually charged banter about animal vaccinations. And, believe it or not, the movie’s just getting warmed up:

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