Plot: Rack Hansen (William Shatner) is a skilled veterinarian and all around good guy, a friend to all and even looks after his niece and sister-in-law, who have struggled since the death of his brother. While he knows his craft inside and out, his latest patient proves to be more than he can handle. A local rancher brings him a calf in a dire situation and not only can Rack do nothing to help the poor animal, but he is baffled as to what the ailment is, so he takes samples and sends them up the ladder. This leads to the arrival of expert Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling), who was so shocked by the samples, she had to come in person to look into the case. The calf died from a large dose of spider venom, enough that it would have taken hundreds of spiders to produce. Of course, Rack is skeptical about the claim, but he soon learns about a “spider hill” that is home to just that, hundreds if not thousands of spiders. After some tests, Diane concludes the spiders have special venom that is more toxic than any she has seen before, so they decide to burn the hill. But the spiders have more up their sleeves than just one hill and as they take over the town, can anyone stop their deadly march?
Entertainment Value: Kingdom of the Spiders is one of the true b movie cult classics and with good reason, as it remains a fun, well made creature feature even decades after it was first released. The premise alone is reason enough to dive in, as thousands of spiders swarm on a small town, but when you throw in William Shatner, you know this is going to be one of those immortal movies. The film’s use of over five thousand real spiders adds so much to the experience, as you can see the spiders crawl all over the cast and wander about the locations. This is something only practical effects can accomplish, as CGI just fails to capture that sense of real creepiness. Of course, plenty of fake spiders are used as well, including rubber ones and spiders painted in various places, but rest assured, a flood of real arachnids are on showcase. Shatner has the lead and is better than you might think, dropping his signature odd dialogue rhythm, as least in most scenes. Woody Strode is here as well as a beleaguered rancher, while the cast also includes Tiffany Bolling and Altovise Davis, with John Bud Cardos behind the camera as director. This is one any cult film fan will want to own, as well as anyone who likes creature features, old school drive-in movies, William Shatner, or seeing children thrown like sacks of potatoes.
No nakedness. Well, there is a blink and you’ll miss it shot of a topless Bolling after a shower scene, but it is just a few frames. I think it registers more as a tease than a true topless scene, so I don’t think a point is in order. But imagine a Shatner/Bolling love scene where the spiders join them for a wild threesome, right? A little blood at times, but mostly just a lot of spider attacks. I do think seeing an actor covered in real spiders is quite a sight, however. Some of the victims wind up spun into webs, which also makes for a fun visual. The dialogue is played dead serious in most scenes, which of course leads to some camp value. Shatner has some fun lines, as he is so dramatic about the whole situation, but he also shows some real charm and screen presence. Bolling has a cute scene where she interacts with a spider, then has some fun deflecting Shatner’s advances early in the movie. In terms of craziness, five thousand real spiders is pretty wild, without question. The sheer volume of them roaming around and crawling all over the cast is enough to send those with arachnophobia off the deep end. Then we also have Shatner throwing his spider covered niece on the floor like a rag doll, a pilot having an epic freak out mid-flight, and a finale that sends the movie off in proper fashion, given the genre involved.
Overall Insanity: 5/10