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Reviews

Kingdom of the Spiders

Kingdom of the Spiders

John ‘Bud’ Cardos

USA, 1977

Credits

Review by Thomas Scalzo

Posted on 10 October 2004

Source GoodTimes Entertainment DVD

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There are many theories regarding man’s outcome if the insect world were to turn on him…In none of them do we come out on top.

A requisite cult classic, Kingdom of the Spiders tells the cautionary tale of a hungry horde of super-venomous tarantulas and its fateful migration to the sleepy town of Verde Valley in search of fodder. This being a When Nature Attacks film, the travels of the arachnid army are not a whim, but the inevitable result of a DDT-devastated natural food source, and an intuitive understanding that careless humanity is to blame.

Staring the inimitable William Shatner as the Miller High Life-drinking veterinarian, this admittedly campy movie is also a creepy horror flick, employing hundreds of live tarantulas to great effect. Whether crawling up legs, skittering across shoulders, or descend en masse upon their prey, the omnipresent spiders create a palpable atmosphere of unease, and produce some genuine chills.

Astonishingly, this taut tale of terror is interrupted time and again by inexplicable romantic interludes between the ever-amorous Shatner and an enchanting entomologist called in to assess the situation. With spiders lurking round every corner, they go on a picnic. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, they make out.

And as if these improbable moments of amour weren’t enough to keep his audience intrigued, director John ‘Bud’ Cardos peppers his soundtrack with the philosophical ponderings of country crooner Dorsey Burnette, intermingling horrific scenarios with lyrics such as “Will tomorrow bring the love we need to last forever more? Or could it bring the unknown that we’ve never seen before?”

Far from relegating Kingdom of the Spiders to the rank of horror-comedy, however, these seemingly incongruous inclusions serve to enhance the movie’s more gruesome elements, offering effectively humorous counterpoises to what is ultimately a bleak film.

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