KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977)
Article 4334 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos
Featuring William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode
What it is: Nature run amok
A small Arizona town finds itself threatened by an invasion of deadly tarantulas who have organized themselves into an army.
“Nature Run Amok” stories were a pretty standard subgenre of the seventies, and if you’re familiar with the form, then, in terms of the plot, there’s not much in the way of surprises in this particular example of it. And, when you get down to it, I really wasn’t expecting any. Still, that’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have its small pleasures. For one thing, I like the authentic-feeling Arizona small town atmosphere that pervades the movie. I like the moment when the female lead first encounters a tarantula in a drawer in her cabin; rather than screaming (as the cliche would be), she picks it up, talks to it, pets it, and then takes it outside and sets it free, which, given that she’s an entomologist, makes a lot more sense. I like that the pest exterminator draws pictures of his victims on the side of his airplane. And I also like how the woman who rents out the cabin goes through a period of grieving when she believes the man that she loves has died; many movies of this sort don’t take the time to realize that grief comes with death, and it’s nice to see it on display. It’s also well acted throughout, and the movie certainly doesn’t cut corners in creating a believable spider infestation. So even if the story itself is pretty ordinary, it’s well enacted, and that’s always a plus.