07
Oct
14

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

On this, the 7th day of 31 Days of Horror, we bring to you only the best: a $1 purchase from an antique mall starring William Shatner! Believe it or not, after over 300 posts we still haven’t made it to a Shatner movie. How is that even possible? No better time to remedy the situation than during 31 Days of Horror.  So, without further ado, I present a masterpiece of 1970’s sci-fi horror: Kingdom of the Spiders.

The town of Verde Valley, Arizona is a sleepy little place. The weeks before the county fair are the most exciting for everyone in the town, and farmer Walter Colby is sure that his prized calf will take home first place! That is until the healthy calf suddenly falls ill without explanation or warning. Frantic, Colby calls in Rack (yes, his name is Rack; don’t worry, there’s a story behind that!) Hansen (Shatner) for help.

Little diddy 'bout Rack & Diane...

Little diddy ’bout Rack & Diane…

Unable to save the calf, the best Hansen can do is send samples to the university in Flagstaff. Worried that he’ll be quarantined, Colby can only sit and wait to hear the fate of the rest of his livestock. Hansen doesn’t seem too worried about that; he thinks his calf’s illness is an isolated, though strange, incident. All that changes when sexy, blonde out-of-towner Diane Ashley comes zipping into town in her flashy car and snazzy big-city suit! She comes from the university with the news that the calf was killed by… wait for it… SPIDER VENOM!

Hansen is incredulous: first of all, a woman is trying to tell him that one spider killed a cow? Silly, silly women; what has the world come to making women scientists?! Everyone knows women are meant to be subdued, and Hansen will surely have his way with Miss Ashley. After all, what woman wouldn’t eventually fall prey to Dr. Rack Hansen’s charms? But I digress; back to the matter at hand: spiders. Yeah, okay so our smart city lady posits that spiders, no longer able to subsist on their normal meal of insects due to the overuse of insecticides like DDT, have now banned together to attack livestock and humans in order to survive. Armed with the knowledge of the enemy, can Hansen & Ashley save Verde Valley from the spiders’ evil web?!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

Kingdom of the Spiders might be the best buck I’ve ever spent. As surely most of you are aware, movies like this are almost always a gamble, and very rarely does the viewer come out on top. I knew that we’d be in for some enjoyment; Shatner is almost always entertaining, and he definitely lives up to his reputation here as over-actor extraordinaire. But Shatner isn’t the only thing entertaining about Kingdom, it offers the whole kit and caboodle of b-horror fun; cheesy special effects, ridiculous storyline, all sorts of distressed damsels, and some of the slowest-moving villains on screen.

Perhaps the best part about Kingdom is that it’s a 50’s movie made in 1977. If it had been in black and white and had a different star, I totally would have mistaken it for something of that era. Is it an homage to the creepy crawler flicks from the 1950’s, or is it just totally behind the time? Perhaps its concerns over environmentalism update it a bit, but its attitudes towards women and the way it is filmed make it seem like it came from another time. And that is another reason why it is such a joy to watch.

This girl's bed is covered in spiders!

This girl’s bed is covered in spiders!

This is a really dumb movie. The dialog is dumb, the story is dumb, and the people in the film are pretty dumb. But it is an absolute pleasure to watch; the pacing is just right, and in a movie like this that is typically what either saves the day or squashes its potential. It’s the perfect drive-in movie, or heck, the perfect Halloween movie! I’ll confess to being afraid of spiders; I’ve even woken up several times with night terrors caused by a dream where spiders were flying at my face, and this movie didn’t even scare me. It was just sheer, dumb fun. Next time you’re in the mood for some mind-numbing sci-fi horror, this is your movie!

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