Thursday, March 15, 2007
Forget the Rain--There's No Washin' These Boys Out
Out of all these movies, Kingdom of the Spiders is the one that freaks my shit out. The rest of them tickle me because they're just patently bad. And I'm not saying this one is a winner by any means, but it makes me scratch for a good two hours after seeing it and has me checking inside my shoes for days.
Yea, it's got Shatner. Yea, it's a bad movie. Yea, there are way too many of the "characters behaving stupidly" bits. But this movie has lots and lots of spiders. Tarantulas, actually. And they're dumped on the actors. By the bucket-full. I can't imagine how badly these people needed the money to subject themselves to that--but you could not pay me enough to do it.
This movie gets closer to being effective than most of the others on my list. It doesn't toy with making them huge or by being a hybrid sort of movie. It takes something that legitimately creeps people out and pours it on. Granted they take some liberties (tarantulas are not social; these buggers are immune to DDT; they're hyper-poisonous; they spin webs [this becomes important later]) but for this genre of movie the film-makers show remarkable restraint. They know what's scary and they give it to you.
William Shatner plays a western veterinarian who goes by the name of Rack. He's called out to a farm to check on a dead calf. He takes samples to see what the cause of death is and sends some off to the big city. If it's due to some sort of virus or disease, the farmer might lose his herd and property. Later in the movie, when the hot big city entomologist arrives, it turns out it's spider venom. Five times more lethal than normal. No explanation is really given for this--but hey, just go with it. There's a lull for character development--we realize Shatner and the bug-chick are gonna hook up because they get off on the wrong foot; we meet Shatner's sister-in-law (his brother's dead) who's in love with him and has a kid; we meet some more of the locals. All just setting us up for the third act fun. The pacing is a little slow here--but sort of worth it just for the overwrought Shatner emoting.
Things pick up when they discover a huge hill crawling with tarantulas. More of these hell-condos appear later and of course that means more spiders. Shatner has a fight with sis-in-law and bags the bug girl. Another cow dies. And from this point on it's just carnage. The farmer and his wife both meet their ends due to the spiders. Pa is attacked in his truck and drives off a cliff. He's found dead and webbed (this is one of the creepiest effects in the movie to me.) Ma is assaulted by the tarantulas in the homestead and has them crawling up her arm--instead of shaking it off her, she SHOOTS her damned arm off. She, thankfully, also becomes arachno-chow. The mayor sends up a crop duster to poison the spiders. He's attacked mid-flight and crashes into a barn. The horny sister-in-law is next to go. And so it goes.
Shatner tries calling out for help, but you see the operator all webbed up with spiders crawling over her. There are also seens of webbed up victims looking dessicated with tarnatulas crawling on them. And then the town just goes bug shit. You see people running from spiders; cars driving over spiders; people succumbing to spiders. And people running around screaming covered in tarantulas. It's lunacy. And I just shuddered typing this paragraph.
People hole up at a lodge for the night after battling spiders. In the morning, Shatner looks out the window to see what daylight brings: a town covered in webs. Yep--spiders win.
Kingdom of the Spiders
Not even Shatner
can stop the killer spiders.
The spiders win, bitch.