Written by Fido
From the very opening of the movie and the immediately out-of-place title music, it’s hard not to get wrapped up into Kingdom Of The Spiders right off the bat. Slow moving spiders beating up even slower reacting people – sign me up. It brings back fond memories of lazy Sunday early evenings in Southern California watching Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on Channel 9 while settling into an amazingly cheeseball, but fun movie.
It’s always good to see William Shatner in any role outside of Captain Kirk, or a character alluding to Kirk. And in this flick, he delivers an oddly "dramedic" (drama + comedy) performance under the moniker Arizona’s own Dr. Robert “Rack” Hansen. Now I won’t spoil the story behind the catchy spy-guy nickname, but instead I will whole-heartedly recommend that any fan of horror or ‘70s movies in general grab this puppy up as soon as they can.
Alongside Shatner is Tiffany Bolling playing the alluring female lead. From her very first zero reaction to finding a giant tarantula in a vanity drawer for no reason, her performance falls right in line with what you expect (and want) from the role.
How many William Shatner films can you see where Shatner is the most under-control actor (well, at least until his attack scene that he mysteriously survives when others were knocked off with one nibble)?
It has all of the hallmarks of a good ‘70s horror romp – the overacting; the grainy, gritty film feel; the low budget stretched to the Nth degree; the appropriate yet still completely abrupt ending; and a ton of other entirely endearing qualities that make the ‘70s era of horror (and film in general) one of the most interesting and now influential eras in film history.
The opening scene in which a prize show-cow is assaulted by one of the offending beasties is shot from the spiders’ point of view. Call me crazy (as many have before and will again) but I love when older horror movies take a P.O.V. shot from a bug and treat it as high drama – which this movie does do not once, but a couple times. It’s this kind of sensibility in these films that I find so magnetic. Simple little devices used in unintentionally funny ways that draw you into even the worst of films are few and far between nowadays. Kingdom Of The Spiders finds a way to be unintentionally funny without being thoroughly terrible or unentertaining.
There’s also this wonderfully blurry line between TV movies of the era and movies of the same time period. This one has the same “could’ve been an ABC Sunday Night Movie” feel, but it doesn’t take anything away from the fun.