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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Movie Review - Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

The next best thing to a zombie apocalypse is a creepy crawly bug apocalypse. That is what this month’s theme is that I’m exploring. I recently watched the movie “Kingdom of the Spiders” (1977). I was surprised with this one. It's classified as a horror... what else would it be? I’m a big fan of the bug world and took an extra special enjoyment with this one.

The story involves a small town somewhere in Arizona. Life is pretty normal and the town is getting ready for a county fair. A farmer’s livestock has been mysteriously killed by an unknown source. With the help of the local veterinarian; Dr. Robert Hansen he determines that the cause is by spiders; specifically tarantulas. It doesn’t take long for the spiders to show themselves a lot more frequently. A scientist; Diane Ashley soon joins the cause and finds out the spider venom is 3x more toxic than usual. While investigating the mysterious appearance of the spiders they encounter massive hills (like ants) with tarantula spiders spewing out. At first the hill is burned but the mayor orders some heavy duty pesticide be used. This is dispersed by a biplane but the pilot suffers an attack and crashes. The spiders realize that they are marked for extermination and start creating havoc with the town’s people. This causes the veterinarian, his niece, the scientist and some vacationers take refuge in a cabin campground office boarding up the windows and trying to keep the spiders from coming in. All seems to be calm in the morning and the survivors are happy to see that they have survived the night but one look out of the window they realize that they have awaken to a silken laden landscape home to the kingdom of the spiders.

The movie stars William Shatner as the veterinarian Dr. Hansen. He played okay. Will is not really a good actor to begin with. The other actors are unknown to me but they did an okay job. The effects and use of spiders were decent. Some scenes did scare a bit. In all fairness the tarantulas moved to slow to be any real threat. The implied aggression of the spiders was misleading, in some scenes they are just shown being brushed or picked away. The camera work was decent, pans pull ups and even POV spider shots through the blades of grass. Very nice.

This movie was decent for it’s time. The fright and hysteria caused over tarantulas is entertaining and some actually did it believably. For 1977, this movie would have scared you but it is in no means like “Arachnophobia” (1990). I rate in 5.5/10 but note it was a strong effort. I would recommend seeing this film only because you should see what Hollywood was capable of doing with these 8 legged furry creatures.

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