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Film / Kingdom of the Spiders

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You could be the next victim!

A 1977 horror film starring William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling and Woody Strode, in which hordes of tarantulas begin swarming and attacking the residents of a small Arizona town after their natural food supplies give out. Perhaps most remembered today for the gruesome spider-victim FX, and the bizarre but not-exactly-a-twist ending. Shatner is also notable for one of those rare times when he actually makes an effort in the acting department, playing a flawed and even somewhat multifaceted character.

Now available as a RiffTrax video on demand download. Watch the DVD trailer here.

This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Terry calls Rack John accidentally, which Rack doesn't take kindly as it's the name of his deceased brother.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Where to begin? Tarantulas do not spin webs, for one. Even in large numbers, the venom of a tarantula is extremely mild to humans and large mammals.
  • Asshole Victim: Implied to be the fate of the mayor, since by the end it is pretty clear no one made it out of the town alive, and it seems unlikely he’d miss the chance to attend the county fair.
  • Downer Ending: The tarantulas have managed to wipe out most of the town, and it’s implied that other species of spiders have joined in, encasing the entire town in webs. The survivors are probably going to die, and the outside world is completely unaware, with the implication that the spiders’ attacks are going to spread to the outside world.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Or a water tower, on Sheriff Smith's case. His death is so abrupt one would be forgiven for missing it.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The last scene shows the entire town engulfed in spider webs, implying the surviving characters won't last the day.
  • Fingore: Birch ends up shooting two of her fingers off when she uses a gun on a tarantula that made it on her hand.
  • Gainax Ending: The final shot shows the entire town covered in webs, but not a spider in sight. Make of it what you will.
  • Green Aesop: DON'T USE DDT! (The US DDT ban did happen in 1972, so it shows the Mayor is either stupid or corrupt or both.)
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Sheriff Gene Smith's wife describes him as being quite handsome in his younger days.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Attempted with the spider hill on Colby's land. Not only were there more hills elsewhere, the spiders in that hill simply escaped out a back door.
    • Played straight with the cropduster pilot, who dies when the spiders begin swarming the cockpit, causing the plane to crash and explode.
  • Made of Explodium: The cropduster. Justified, since it crashed into a gas station.
  • Mistaken for Servant: When Diane and Rack first meet, she mistakes him for a gas station attendant. He encourages the deception though, since he enjoys being a Troll.
  • Mayor Pain: The mayor is an idiot who refuses to listen to professionals on how to stop the spiders on the grounds that trying to get rid of the spiders might disrupt the county fair. He also caused the problem to begin with by using DDT, in spite of the fact that it is illegal.
  • Moment Killer: An early moment between Rack and Terry is snuffed when Terry calls him "John" (the name of Rack's dead brother).
  • "Psycho" Strings: Used on the Peek-A-Boo Corpse scenes.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Colby seems convinced his herd will be quarantined and purged whenever anything happens to any of his animals. He keeps accusing everyone in authority of planning this even after it's made clear it isn't a disease, and even before then nobody can figure why he thinks they want to. Justified in that he's in financial straits and is paranoid about losing any of his stock.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Most of the music was borrowed from The Twilight Zone (1959) episodes, mainly the work of a young Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying: Both the spiders' aggressiveness and sudden boost in venom potency is blamed on the reaction to their food supply being cut off by human encroachment on their habitat. Somehow the lack of food made the spiders (only the tarantulas, mind you) more venomous, more aggressive and more numerous. Oh, and tarantulas don't use webs to catch food. They hunt. And, in the case of lack of food, would sooner turn on each other than try and tackle something even the size of a dog, let alone humans or livestock.
  • Spider Swarm: The entire premise of the film is the fact that the use of DDT has caused spiders to do this and swarm a town.
  • Token Minority: The Colbys, with Walter played by Western legend Woody Strode.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Birch is armed and there's a spider on her hand. She then shoots the spider and her hand. (In her defense, we don't know what happened immediately before that scene that terrified her into doing that.)
    • The fact that she's using a pistol against perhaps a dozen tarantulas in the first place, instead of, you know, stepping on them.
    • When the main characters barricade themselves inside a house, it is clearly established that spiders are everywhere. So naturally, everyone checks out what's wrong with the air conditioning when it starts malfunctioning. Twice, with different vent covers. Mocked mercilessly by the RiffTrax crew.
    • Colby does not think the large colony of spiders living in a "spider hill" on his property is notable enough to mention to anyone without being directly asked, even after his cattle start dying from what the vet tells him look like insect bites.
  • Unreliable Expositor: The closest we come to an explanation is from Diane, but she openly admits she's speculating wildly.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Aside from the ending, the film mimicks the plot to Jaws, complete with a Mayor who cares more about a local festival than the health of his constituents.