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WILLIAM SHATNER TREKS THROUGH 'KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS'

year: 1977 cast: William Shatner, Woody Strode rating: ****
Terrific build-up and follow-through by director (and once exploitation actor and stuntman) John Bud Cardos envelops this thriller starring William Shatner as a mild-mannered, beer-guzzling, smooth-talking country vet who, after the death of a rancher's calf, soon discovers, with the aid of a gorgeous insect excerpt imported from the big city, that spiders, actually tarantulas, are taking over with a vengeance.

There are great spider-cam shots and the character-development coincides nicely with the escalating situation-at-hand: no one stands a chance against nature gone awry... And wouldn't you know it: humans are to blame. One scene in particular, as the spiders attack the small town's main street... without a lot of movement from the creatures at all... is miraculous; as is a scene involving a chemical-spouting biplane. The iconic William Shatner, known for his often hammy performances, is perfectly subdued here. But the tarantulas are the main stars, maneuvered (and placed) with perfection and, at times, seeming as well-trained as domesticated house pets.
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