KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS - Did You Know?

Trivia Compiled By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: IMDB / Wikipedia

Movie trivia can be fun and here at Monster Island News we think of ourselves as fun ... and trivial.

Here are a few little items that you may or may not know about the 1977 creepy crawly movie "Kingdom of the Spiders" which starred William Shatner (post Star Trek).

$50,000 of the movie's budget went towards spiders. The producers offered to pay $10 each for live tarantulas, and handlers collected 5,000 of them.

Tiffany Bolling was cast in the female lead role because she was the only actress who auditioned who had no trouble working with spiders.

Donna Mills auditioned for the female lead, but couldn't do it because she was uncomfortable with spiders.

When Rack Hansen and Diane Ashley arrive at Terry's farm, they get out of Rack's truck and close the doors. A moment later when they rush back with Rack's niece, Linda, the truck doors are open.

At Colby's accident site, the deputy tells the sheriff that an eyewitness was a quarter of a mile behind Colby's truck and saw the accident. However, during earlier wide shots of Colby driving, there was nobody as far as the eye could see on the straight highway.

The stunt driver who hits Mayor Conner misjudged his speed and hit the brakes just as he made contact. Instead of the car taking out the mayor and then careening into the water tower, you can see it stop briefly and then accelerate again to get enough speed to take out the water tower.

The large amount of tarantulas kept on-hand led to some unusual production difficulties. Not only did each spider have to be kept warm, but because of the creatures' cannibalistic tendencies, all 5,000 spiders had to be kept in separate containers. Additionally, tarantulas are usually shy around people, so fans and air tubes often had to be used to get the spiders to walk towards their "victims". Indeed, in a number of the scenes where the tarantulas are "attacking" people, it is obvious to the viewer that the spiders are merely moving around, usually away from their intended victims.

Due to the film's low budget, most of the music used in the film (particularly the "startle cues") was taken from the logs of stock music used on suspense TV series. For example, most of the music used in the film during the scenes with the spiders can also be heard in notable episodes of The Twilight Zone, including "To Serve Man" and "The Invaders", as well as in at least one episode of The Fugitive. The country music songs heard on the radio in the movie, as well as over the opening and closing credits, were performed by country singer Dorsey Burnette.

Although Shatner and Bolling were ostensibly the "stars" of the film, many who have seen it (along with the producers) have said that the movie's "great performances" came from the extras (according to Kantor, usually friends and family of the crew) who were required to stay motionless (since they were supposed to be dead) as several live tarantulas crawled all over them.

It is always entertaining to see how the cast from the original "Star Trek" television series tried to move on after the show got the ax. Many of the cast members continued to look for jobs in the industry. DeForest Kelley starred in the giant rabbit flick "Night of the Lepus" and Walter Koenig actually began writing episodes for TV series, including the "The Stranger", which introduced Enik on "Land of the Lost". Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner all attempted singing careers, the less said about that the better.

William Shatner, who is the star of today's film, continued to get sporadic work, post Trek, most of which were bit parts in made for TV movies and cult films, like "The Devil's Rain". Probably the most notable of all of these, is the 1977 John "Bud" Cardos horror, "Kingdom of the Spiders."

American horror film makers have always had an attraction to insects, both huge and regular sized. While the Japanese were focusing on dinosaurs, there North American counterparts were playing with bugs. Films like "Them!", "The Deadly Mantis" and "Tarantula" did very well in the 1950s and though the trend ebbed somewhat in the 1960s, by the early 1970s things were back in full swing. "The Giant Spider Invasion" and "Food of the Gods" are two examples of how Hollywood tried to recapture the magic of the prior decades.....and failed.

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And now you know!

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