Saturday, July 22, 2017

Arachnophobia With James Tiberius Hooker, or Thoughts on Kingdom of The Spiders

Pop culture icon William Shatner did his best in the 70’s to leave the Federation in the dust by guest starring in other classic TV shows like Ironside, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo and Kung Fu.  The problem was that he couldn’t get away from his essential Shatner-ness, the qualities he brought to every role he inhabited; his inherent vanity, his insistence on doing his own stunts and of course, the hair.  It wasn’t until late in his career that he began embracing his image and having fun with it, but in Kingdom of The Spiders (1977) he portrayed Rack Hansen, a cowboy veterinarian who is (of course) popular with the ladies while still finding the time to fight off the spider invasion of his small Arizona town.
Rack investigates the mysterious death of a calf, and calls in a fancy lady scientist from Flagstaff.  The mayor is worried about a quarantine, which would shut down the county fair, and if this movie is beginning to sound like Jaws (1975) with spiders, you’re not wrong.  It’s interesting that the filmmakers went to great effort to make the humble tarantula threatening by using 5000 of them (according to Wikipedia), instead of going the route of giant mutated spiders, which the title implies.
Watch out for Woody Strode from Spartacus (1960) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) as Walter Colby, the farmer with the dead calf.

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