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.
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 it’s 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!