Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode, Lieux Dressler
Directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos
Distributed by Shout! Factory
The time was 1977, and there was no badder man on the planet than William Shatner. While world famous as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, for older horror fans there was another role that Shatner may be just as popular for. I speak of his portrayal of “Rack” Hansen in the classic nature-run-amok flick Kingdom of the Spiders.
It doesn’t matter if your an old fan or a young buck looking for some solid entertainment, Kingdom of the Spiders is the absolute two-fisted, ass-whippin’ shit, and Shout! Factory has hit the proverbial ball straight out of the park with this release.
Before we begin, special kudos have to go out to whoever thought up the character name “Rack” Hansen. I can think of few other names that shout “I’m a badass that will punch you in the breadbasket, hit you with a dropkick, and then walk off with your woman” quite louder than that. Truly stunning. Onward to the review.
As noted, Shatner plays “Rack” Hansen, the most macho veterinarian you’re ever likely to meet. After the livestock in his Arizona town starts turning up dead, the people in his community turn to the pet-loving lothario as a means to dig up some answers.
It seems the animals have fallen victim to an infestation of spiders that soon end up taking out their DDT induced aggression on the surrounding humans. Good thing for them a sexy entomologist (Bolling) is on the scene and ready to … ummm … assist “Rack” with anything that he needs. Or should I say — desires? Before you know it, there’s a full scale man vs. eight-legged invader war being waged, and everyone and everything is on the menu.
Kingdom of the Spiders is brilliant in its unintentional silliness and features one of Shatner’s most incredibly hammy performances ever. Every single scene is pure chicken fried gold, but let me warn the newbies — silliness aside, this flick is packing some really intense and skin-crawling scenes of horror including what has to be one of the best horror endings of the century. The last frame of film has haunted this reviewer for decades, and I’m willing to bet it will have the same harrowing effect on you. If not, screw you! Go watch a teen-riddled remake of a movie that was made correctly the first time, and leave the good stuff for us more appreciative folks.
As stated earlier, Shout! Factory has really served up a winner here with the treatment this obscure little gem has gotten. Things kick off with an audio commentary by director John Bud Cardos, producer Igor Kantor, spider wrangler Jim Brockett, and cinematographer John Morrill, moderated by Scott Spiegel and Lee Christian, that’s honestly just as fun as the movie itself. As you can imagine, dealing with hundreds of live spiders on a movie set can lead to lots of interesting stories, and these folks have them. From there we get a brand new interview with “Rack” himself, William Shatner, in which the actor reminisces about the good old days of being covered with dozens of crawling arachnids all for the sake of making art! It’s impossible to not be entertained.
After that we’re treated to a featurette called Jim Brockett: Spider Wrangler that features a present day Brockett showing us some of the large (and pissed off) breeds of spider used in the making of this movie. You couldn’t have paid me enough to conduct this interview. What the hell’s wrong with this guy?!? Finally we get to see some vintage shot on location behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot that quite frankly I’m shocked still exists. Add on a poster gallery and of course the trailer, and we are done. Badass.
Even after all these decades since its release, Kingdom of the Spiders plays just as good and just as fun as it always has. This, as far as we’re concerned, is the very first MUST HAVE horror DVD package of 2010. Please, Shout! Factory — give us a Blu-ray version so that we can enjoy every disturbing moment in glorious high definition! Don’t hesitate. Click the link below and buy this one like yesterday!
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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