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Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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Kingdom of the SPiders (1977) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersEverybody out of the desert!  Huh?!  Bubbling up from the ground and spilling down canyon cliff walls, there’s a crawling brown mass of sticky ticky fist-sized monsters with fangs full of venom headed this way.  These spiders are incredibly pissed off, too.  First, they come for the livestock and then they come for your children!

In my estimation, Kingdom of the Spiders is one of the ABSOLUTE BEST bug-related b-movies out there.  Forget about the spiders.  I mean, yeah, they are cool and everything and terrifyingly real.  They are even quick to attack, seemingly endless in their sudden appearance, too.  But, truthfully, it’s the creative cast of characters that inhabit the small Arizona desert town in which the spiders invade that seals the deal for me on this flick.  Everyone – no matter how big or small his or her part is – comes across as authentic and weird, in that small town manner, and that makes for a very interesting experience.

Kingdom of the Spiders is directed by b-movie badass John "Bud" Cardos (from The Dark and Mutant to name but a few of the projects he’s worked on) and it stars William Shatner.  Now, before you start imagining Shatner hamming up being attacked by spiders and feigning all sorts of drama with an exaggerated pause in his speech, you need to know one thing: he is completely on point throughout the film.  He nails it.  And brings in one of his best performances as Dr. Robert "Rack" Hansen, a veterinarian in Verde Valley caring for his deceased brother’s wife and child.

Operating as an updated version of the kind of creature features that filled cinemas and drive-ins back in the 1950s, Kingdom of the Spiders gives us yet another “nature strikes back” flick.  This time the anger from the animal kingdom is due to our continued DDT use and its consequences.  The film is set in an isolated town, but – thanks to a GREAT cast that includes Woody Strode and Hoke Howell – it feels bigger and more “lived in” than similar pictures with the same buggy spirit. 

Kingdom of the Spiders also provides more than enough gore – a woman shoots her fingers off while firing at a spider – and sex appeal, thanks to a showering Tiffany Bolling (Candy Snatchers).  Yet, it also gives us all of the gritty realness of these sordid characters – whether they are gas and grease monkeys, barmaids, pilots, or sheriffs – and their small town life. 

Even Bolling gets in on the realism as entomologist Diane Ashley who, when first faced with the spiders, doesn’t react in the stereotypical manner to the first spider she sees.  She coos to it; talking to it like a child as she helps it get back outside.  It’s an awesome moment that shows just what advantage b-movies have in doing things differently than their big budgeted brothers and sisters. 

But it’s people covered in living tarantulas and screaming bloody murder as the spiders “bite” them to death that most fans remember of this movie.  This was, after all, a rip on Spielberg’s Jaws, but – instead of one giant beastie – we get a million of them.  As goofy as the scenes of people covered in tarantulas running around town are, anyone laughing as these panicked people start throwing themselves on the sheriff’s car as he attempts, tragically, to get from one spot to the next, are just demented as fuck.  It’s a downright disturbing scene; almost poetic in its delivery as it depicts justice being stalled by fear.

And, wow, the ending?  Easily a memorable scene that has haunted me since I first saw it.  Ah, to see it for the first time again.  I am so jealous of those who are!

To put it bluntly, Kingdom of the Spiders and its 2K HD release by Code Red towers above everything else.  If you’re a fan of creature features, you will gladly walk right into its massive web.

Kingdom of the SPiders (1977) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: John 'Bud' Cardos
Writer:
Richard Robinson, Alan Caillou
Cast:
William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode
Genre
: Horror | sci-fi
Tagline:
A living, crawling hell on Earth!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You don't quit pestering me, one of these mornings I'm gonna show up and start milking that cow."
Theatrical Distributor:
Dimension Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 5, 2017
Synopsis: William Shatner stars as vet “Rack” Hansen in this cult classic about an Arizona town infested with a horde of arachnids that turn on the humans. After livestock belonging to Rack’s friend Walter Colby fall victim to a spider attack, entomologist Dian Ashlery arrives and tries to help Rack deal with the the crisis. But with the big county fast approaching, Mayor Connors refueses to let them quarantine the Colby’s ranch. Soon the remaining residents of the town must barricade themselves to stave off the eight-legged invaders in the ultimate man vs. arachnid showdown!

Kingdom of the SPiders (1977) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red
Available on Blu-ray
- July 5, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Code Red presents the movie with a stunning new 2K HD scan from the original interpositive.  Kingdom of the Spiders is absolutely stunning on blu-ray.  The film looks crisp and colors are bold.  It’s unlike any other version of the movie released thus far; focused and detailed.  Doesn’t look cheap at all.  Black levels are strong throughout and, as it full of browns and greens, brings a beauty to its location not previously seen.  It is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and supports a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  There are two commentaries included on the release.  The first one is BRAND NEW and features actress Tiffany Bolling and producer Igo Kantor talking about the making of the movie and Shatner’s flirty behavior toward Bolling, even with his wife on the set.  The second commentary features Kantor (again), director John "Bud" Cardos, cinematographer John Morell, and spider wrangler Jim Brockett.  Both are fun and informative for fans to dive into.

Special Features:

Complete with a limited edition slipcover, Code Red has outdone itself with this release.  We get Banana Man sitting with Bolling as a lead-in to the movie and a new interview with actress Tiffany Bolling.  She’s very candid about the experience and her career and offers some insight into her filmography, including a short lived tv show in the 1970s that sounds a lot like LOST.  Interesting.  Also included is an interview with Brockett about the spiders used in the movie – all harmless tarantulas – and how some of the scenes were completed.  Co-writer Steve Lodge is also interviewed and he talks about what movies influenced the movie.  Overall, an outstanding release from Code Red.

  • Tiffany Bolling Interview (9 min)
  • Jim Brockett Interview (12 min)
  • Steve Lodge Interview (5 min)
  • Behind the Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer

Kingdom of the SPiders (1977) - Blu-ray Review

 

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