Shatner and Spiders

Tarantula - (Brachypelma smithi)

Image via Wikipedia

The only thing that can survive acting opposite Shatner at full throttle is a horde of starving spiders.

The Kingdom of the Spiders is on IFC right now.  One of my favorites as a child because it confirmed what I already suspected.  The spiders are pissed and they’re coming for me.

“I turned around and there they were in groups….watching me!”

Now that’s creepy.

You see, pesticides are ruining the food supply, so the spiders are forming gangs and going after big game.  And they’ve developed supervenom!  Yikes.

What to do, what to do?  Sexy arachnologist, Tiffany Bolling, thinks they should gather a bird and rat army, who are nature’s tarantula killers, but the Mayor thinks they should use more pesticide (doh!) so as not to muck up the tourist draw that is the county fair.  Sounds like a familiar bit of plot, doesn’t it?

The spiders, of course, take down the crop dusting pesticide plane before anything gets dispersed.  Man, those spiders are ready for anything!  I can tell you from having seen this before, the townspeople are no match for this marauding gang of arachnids.

I haven’t watched this film in years, but the end scene has always remained in the back of my mind.  A reminder not to ignore the massive threat that those eight-legged freaks represent.  However, what I didn’t count on is watching it now and feeling sorry for those little, hairy bastards.

Tarantulas are definitely one of the cutest variety of spider…for whatever that’s worth.  But I watched and wondered just how many spiders valiantly lost their lives in the making of this cinematic masterpiece.  I watched as the Sheriff pulled up in his cruiser, squashing all the way.  That kind of sacrifice is not usually required of actors, even the ones that have to play the monster.  Hours in the makeup chair…sure.  Pancaked under a boot?  The union might have an issue.

Wikipedia informs us, via a producer’s comments in Fangoria magazine (1998), that 50,000 live tarantulas (as well as some rubber spiders) were used at a cost of $10 each from Mexican spider wranglers.  That was 10% of the film’s budget.

How many survived?  I don’t know, but imagine the indignity.  Slave actors caught in Mexico and shipped to a foreign country to perform in a freakish snuff-film for amoral, high-roller types.  That’s a horror movie.

The best little nugget of info I’ve learned so far today?  According to Wikipedia, this film was the source of Shatner’s classic rendition of “Rocket Man

The film was nominated for the Best Horror Film award by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, but lost to The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, which starred a young Jodie Foster. At the awards ceremony (which was broadcast in TV syndication), Shatner performed one of his noted spoken-word versions of a pop song, in this case Elton John’s “Rocket Man”.

The Kingdom of Spiders just gives ’till it hurts.

Let’s start the rumor now.  All those spider actors got their revenge in the end.  You think Shatner’s gut is just bloating?  Think again.  Think……giant egg sack.

Nature don’t take kindly to interlopers.


About I.M. Pangs

digital verbal smog creator
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6 Responses to Shatner and Spiders

  1. Autumnforest says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned the name of this one. I caught the tail end of it once and forever wondered what the hell its name was. I’m not a spider freak-out kind of person, but I appreciated the concept for tons of them coming at you. Even tons of baby ducklings coming at you can be scary when there’s enough numbers of them.

  2. I imagine that comment about ducklings is for dramatic effect. In a thread about spiders I would expect no less.

  3. If there is any chipmunk busting it will be on your own head. Don’t be blaming me.

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