Kingdom of the Spiders

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There are spiders, thousands of them. They don’t move very fast but they’re deadly and they’re coming to Texas! This is the premise of Kingdom Of The Spiders (1977). This is a film made to cash in on the success of Jaws (1975) but also seems to have inspired the ill fated The Swarm (1978).

Among the “beatitudes of Shatitude”, Kingdom Of The Spiders fits comfortably between the wholly bizarre Incubus (1966) and the generic The Babysitter (1980), both in terms of chronology and aesthetic. John Cardos, in his direction, perfectly embraces all of the joy and pleasure of the kind of campy adventure that is Kingdom Of The Spiders in a way that is not entirely successful in Shatner’s other horror outings (I don’t think American Psycho 2 is really linked to these three films for reasons I hope are obvious).

But a film that takes being silly seriously and being serious as a joke could never really work without someone like William Shatner in the lead. Shatner can sell any ridiculous moment or idea better than most actors; there’s sincere tragedy behind his campy hamminess. It isn’t Shatner’s best vehicle, that honor goes to The Intruder (1962), but the role of Rack might be his most enjoyable role outside of Captain James T. Kirk.

Aside from William Shatner’s performance, the dialogue is definitely the other highlight of Kingdom of the Spiders. It’s not The Visitor (1979) but it holds its own. There’s an amazing exchange between Shatner and Marcy Lafferty regarding “giving the milk away for free” that is just mind boggling.