Two years before Bill Shatner resumed command of the U.S.S. Enterprise as Admiral James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, he was playing Rack Hansen, a small town vet that finds itself dealing with a ‘stampede’ of migrating and ‘dangerous’ tarantulas in Kingdom of the Spiders, the next title in DK Canada’s incredibly fun, Monsters in the Movies.
Looking after his late brother’s wife, and daughter, he’s a bit of a charmer, and making a living wearing a big hat, riding horses, and spouting medical jargon about animals. He’s got a playful side, teasing a newly arrived scientist, Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) before the pair are thrown together with the discovery that there is a swarm of spiders heading their way, and about to overrun the town.
It’s fun, it’s hokey, it’s low budget, but I’ll say this, the spiders are actually there, and present in the shots, they aren’t computer generated beasties, and sure some of them are practical effects, but you can see them crawling over the actors, and that’s got to take some serious nerves, and definitely not one for the arachnophobes.
Bill Shatner is exactly who you would think he would be in the late 70s, and honestly, he’s pretty damned cool, though I was never a fan of the cowboy look, though he seems very comfortable in it, and of course, sits easily atop a horse.
There are some great and silly moments throughout the film as the town’s inhabitants all start to go crazy with fear, and our heroes and the supporting cast end up hiding out in the town hotel, which is a collection of cabins.
As a child I remember seeing trailers for this one, and Shatner’s other b-movie horror of the 70s, The Devil’s Rain, but even my love for Captain Kirk wasn’t going to get me to watch a horror movie as a kid – I had problems with the Buck Rogers episode that riffed on Dracula, and that was just bad, and not remotely scary (poor young me).
This ends up being an enjoyable romp and honestly, it’s cool to see Shatner at that mid-point between the Trek television series, and his successful rebirth on the big and small screens that was about to happen.
And there were spiders!
And because the film is low budget the main cast were required to do some things that may have been delegated to stunt teams on bigger films so watch out for those moments, the spiders are crawling on them, there’s a plane crash not meters from Shatner, that are all captured on film.
It’s bad, it’s cheesy, but it’s also a lot of fun. Keep ’em coming! I can’t wait to see what comes next in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. Pick one up for yourself and find something monstrous to watch tonight.