Dawn of the Home Video Revolution…Kingdom of the Spiders

This one is for frequent visitor and commenter JT who mentioned this cinematic marvel in the comments section of my last Dawn of the Home Video Revolution post. As luck would have it, Kingdom of the Spiders is one of movies featured in the VCI video brochure from the early days of home video. JT, you said it, you get it!

Kingdom of the Spiders is one of those horror films from the Nature Goes Wild subgenre that mostly came out in the 1970s. It’s also another starring vehicle for William Shatner who was in a lot of TV and a lot of these turkeys at the time between playing a starship captain on the little and big screens.

JT said:

I DID see a movie called “Kingdom of the Spiders” with William Shatner, however.
In my opinion, you could sift and troll in your local sewer plant and any porta-potties you could find for many,many moons and be hard pressed to find a bigger turd.

Obviously, he has never seen The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) which makes Kingdom of the Spiders seem like Citizen Kane in comparison. Giant Spider also featured another captain in a starring role – Alan Hale, Jr, as a sheriff dealing with the threat of GIANT SPIDERS! The giant spider was a couple of furry legs that prop men crashed through set walls and, in its climactic scene, it’s sort of like a Thanksgiving parade float mounted to the top of a VW Bug which chases after the scurrying town folk.

Kingdom of the Spiders is one of those PG rated horror films that was safe enough to show in Sunday Schools. It was shown late nights on CBS which is where I first saw it, and I doubt if they had to cut all that much to make it work within broadcast standards. If you’re frightened by well-kept tarantulas and extras portraying corpses covered in spider silk, this may be scary. If not, no amount of Mr Shatner’s skills as a thespian are going to convince you that this movie is anything more than boring.

As you can see, Kingdom of the Spiders had a bigger budget and better production values than The Giant Spider Invasion. Invasion had aspirations far beyond its budget which is sort of admirable. It also had brief nudity and a few semi-nude nubile actresses which is a plus to any production that has no big stars, no budget, no script and laughable special effects. Back in the ’70s if the movie had a splashy poster, blood and boobs, it was going to make money. I doubt if either of these spider movies lost a dime.

I joke about the Shat, but he was a lot busier in that time period than other actors saddled with iconic roles. He had a lot more screen time than Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew. He kept his face in the public with cheezy movies, television guest shots and doomed pilots. He never fell into the “whatever happened to” hole like Burt Ward or Ron Ely. There’s Bill shilling margarine. There’s Bill in an episode of Kung Fu. There’s Bill shrieking his head off as the Satanists close in. There’s Bill on the Mike Douglas Show. He’s been visible since the ’50s. I’d worry if you didn’t see William Shatner!

Captain Kirk Vs. Neely O'Hara

Captain Kirk and Neely O’Hara in “The Babysitter”

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21 Responses to Dawn of the Home Video Revolution…Kingdom of the Spiders

  1. JT says:

    Wow !

    William Shatner, spiders and ME all in the same blog !

  2. JT says:

    I was gonna tell ya before, but I didn’t wanna load up your blog with a buncha blather.

    Here’s how I came to watch Kingdom of the Spiders…….

  3. JT says:

    Over 20 years ago, I had a 3rd floor apt. with no A/C.
    It was a hot, muggy Sunday and my neighbors invited me and some other folks from the ‘hood to their house to drink some beer, watch some tube and enjoy their newly acquired air conditioner.
    Turns out…..the got the a/c out of someone’s trash….and…..it didn’t work.
    It made noise, as a matter of fact, if the noise it made were proportional to its cooling power, it would have plunged the Delaware Valley into an ice age.
    I think there were six of us there and it didn’t take very long for it to get REAALLLY hot and steamy with all of the windows and doors closed.
    The host insisted that you had to give it time to let the cold air “build up”.
    At the beginning of the movie, the host said….
    “My hemorrhoids are killing me. It feels like I’m sitting on a pine cone”.
    So now I’m watching Kingdom of the Spiders and “As the Pine Cone Turns”, simultaneously.
    About 3/4 through the movie, in exasperation, the host said “What the f— is William Shatner’s job in this movie ? He’s in EVERY scene !”
    And he was. He wasn’t the sheriff or any kind of official, but Shat was inexplicably in every scene.
    At some point, the a/c was turned off and the windows opened and a fan was turned on.
    If not for that, I think we all would have burst into flame.

  4. Joe Williams says:

    Movie Matinee in Hell?

  5. Joe Williams says:

    Thanks for the story! You paint quite a picture. It’s funny that you connect the crappy movie with a particularly crappy time.

  6. Tina says:

    Years ago, I lived in a third floor apartment so small that I was able to pee while making my twin bed at the same time. It also had no air conditioning, by the time August rolled around it was blazing hot. I spent a lot of time at the movies, in malls, and made fast friends with those fortunate enough to have A/C. I don’t recall any of the movies that I saw, but if I had seen “Kingdom of the Spiders” I’m sure I would have remembered it!

  7. JT says:

    I wouldn’t say It was a crappy time.

    It was one of those social situations where you start out as a guest……and end up as a hostage.

  8. JT says:

    Also, if not for that situation, I never would have seen Kingdom of the Spiders.

    If I had been home, I either would have changed the channel, or turned it off.

    Years later, I was thumbing through the TV Guide, and they rated Kingdom of the Spiders 3 stars.

  9. JT says:

    Just out of curiosity……what town was the Giant Spider Invasion filmed in ?

    The women don’t wear pants there.

    I’m not sayin’ I’d make a beeline for the place, but if I happened to be in the area, I might pass through.

    And, if I couldn’t win any of them over with my charms……maybe I could sell ’em some pants.

  10. JT says:

    Movie Matinee in Hell?

    It was ALMOST hot enough.

    It got to the point (and it didn’t take long) where it was hotter inside than it was outside.

  11. JT says:

    Back in the ’70s if the movie had a splashy poster, blood and boobs, it was going to make money. I doubt if either of these spider movies lost a dime.

    But hasn’t that been the idea all along ?

    What of the 1950’s horror movies ?

    The Elvis movies ? With a few exceptions……they were all the same….attractive women, a fight scene, and 12 songs. And they made mucho moolah.

    In the move “Blue Hawaii”, Angela Lansbury played Elvis’ mother.

    At the time, she was younger than he was.

  12. JT says:

    I joke about the Shat, but he was a lot busier in that time period than other actors saddled with iconic roles.

    True dat.

    Eric Roberts had a stretch like that.
    While he didn’t have Shat’s “Star Trek” cred, he was in a LOTTA movies.

    And they weren’t all that great.

    I thought he was a pretty good actor though.

    He was in a flick named “Heaven’s Prisoners” and I thought he turned in a pretty good performance, as did Teri Hatcher.

    The movie starred Alec Baldwin and was based on a novel by James Lee Burke.

  13. JT says:

    He never fell into the “whatever happened to” hole like Burt Ward or Ron Ely.

    Whatever happened to Fred Ward ?

    Wasn’t he in the original with Kevin Bacon ….I can’t think of the name of the flick….about the underground worms?

    Maybe it wasn’t Kevin Bacon.

    Maybe he was cooking bacon, and got attacked by a worm.

    I always liked Fred Ward.

    He reminded me of a car mechanic you could trust your car with.

    If you caught him in a good mood.

  14. JT says:

    He never fell into the “whatever happened to” hole like Burt Ward or Ron Ely.

    Speaking of Burt Ward, he was Robin in the Batman series.

    Shortly after that came out, a “Green Hornet” series came out.

    The Green Hornet’s sidekick was Kato, played by Bruce Lee.

    Yeah, THAT Bruce Lee.

    There was an episode where the Green Hornet met Batman and the script called for Robin and Kato to fight and according to the script, Robin won the fight.

    Yeah, right.

    That had to suck worse than playing Elvis’ mother.

  15. JT says:

    I’m done.

    Your turn.

    Have a nice weekend.

  16. Joe Williams says:

    JT, we’re going to have to dedicate more posts to you! Seen any other crappy movies?

  17. Tina says:

    Okay JT, here goes:
    I love Elvis movies, “Clambake” & “Viva Las Vegas” are my favorites.
    Burt Ward owns his own visual effects company.
    I used to wait on Kevin Bacon and his family – delightful people.
    I think the movie was “Tremors”.
    We own the Green Hornet series, Bruce Lee was hired because he was the only Asian actor to properly pronounce Britt Reid.

  18. JT says:

    “Love Me Tender” and “Flaming Star” are my faves.
    I don’t think I ever saw “Clambake”.

    Is that a fancy way of saying that Burt Ward is an optometrist ?

    I’m glad to hear that about Mr. Bacon. There’s nothing I hate worse than finding out that someone I admired is a nincompoop.
    Just out of curiosity……did he ever order bacon ?
    Did he ever say….”I’ll have a coupla eggs and a side order of me ?” (Sorry….I couldn’t resist.)

    “Tremors” ! That was it !

    Bruce Lee was hired because he was the only Asian actor to properly pronounce Britt Reid.

    Is this for real ?
    I hate to sound cynical, but I think if they found someone to work cheaper, they would have gladly renamed the character to “Blitt Leid”.

  19. JT says:

    There was an episode of “Get Smart” wherein Max was on he trail of an oriental villain named “The Claw”.
    He was knocked unconscious by the Claw’s henchman and woke up in the presence of the Claw.

    “Hello Mr. Smart. I am the Craw.” said the Claw.

    “How do you do, Mr. Craw?” said Max.

    “Not CRAW…… CRAW !” said the Claw.

    They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  20. JT says:

    Seen any other crappy movies?

    I’m sure I have, Joe.

    I have to fish this weekend, and hopefully, I’ll be able to ponder about that.
    If I can keep that guldang song outta my head.

    Incidentally, today I bumped into the son of the host of “Kingdom of the Spiders”.

    I haven’t seen him since 1990.

    How weird is that ?

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