Movie Review: Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Synopsis: When a prized steer dies of a sudden and mysterious ailment, an Arizona veterinarian teams up with an entomologist and discovers an army of venomous tarantulas are to blame. When an attempt to eradicate the spiders fails, the tarantulas invade a nearby town.

Who's in it? The movie stars William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode, Lieux Dressler and David McLean.

Review: I was pleased to see this film was finally available via one of my movie channels because I've been wanting to rewatch it for some time. I was able to convince my skeptical wife to watch it with me last night and the movie did not disappoint.

There is a real 1970s feel to this film, ranging from the clothes to the upbeat country music playing during the introduction and in the background (making it feel a bit more like a comedy at times). However, even though it is now 45 years old, it still remains a solid spider-themed horror film.

One of the things I like about this movie is the premise isn't overly farfetched. The spiders had their regular source of food destroyed by the overuse of pesticides and were simply looking for a replacement. And while they seemed content just going after livestock and stray pets, their diet expanded to humans when their home was burned. While obviously exaggerated, the snowball effect works.

The movie also has what I like to refer to as the "ick factor." Insect movies always have the potential to give people the creepy crawlies but this one does take that to a new level by having the main characters knowingly standing inches from the killer spiders and even picking them up. My wife and I quoted another movie we recently watched when we repeatedly said "nope."

I also liked how this movie ended, leaving some things to the imagination while also ending the movie with a feeling of overall hopelessness. This is the type of film that would have been ruined by a happy ending and I'm glad the filmmakers found a way to avoid that while still giving the heroes a slim chance to survive.

My only real complaint about this film is there are a few things that are left unexplained. For example, the movie doesn't even give us a theory about how the tarantulas have 5 times more venom than normal. I also was curious why an army of killer spiders would sometimes just ignore the heroes when they were standing inches away from them. However, those are questions I'm OK with not knowing the answer to because the rest of the movie does make up for it.

Final Opinion: It's a little dated but the premise and execution are still good enough to make this a fun horror film to watch.

My Grade: A


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