Archive for May, 2011

CRAWLER’S CHAOS: Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Posted in Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) [Creepy Crawler] on 28/05/2011 by Dave J. Wilson

It’s quite well known that William Shatner dabbled here and there in horror early his career, and more recently in American Psycho 2. In that early part of his career, The Devil’s Rain and this gem are the two that spring to mind. I saw this as a kid watching the Deadly Ernest Horror Show, and it really stuck with me until I managed to grab a copy on the Shout Factory label (please ignore the dodgy 23rd Media release from a few years ago). I am happy to relive this childhood memory and share it with you all.

We’re in proper open range and mountain America territory for this film; horses and cowboy boots are available for all to purchase in 1977. Two farmers, Walt Colby (Woody Strode) and his wife Birch Colby (diseased widow of Sammy Davis Jr., Altovise Davis), with big smiles let a young calf out to graze on the field. They get on with their work and so does the calf. Suddenly we have three alternative camera views from the angles of small fast things in the grass, and they’re approaching the calf. Meanwhile, William Shatner is Rack Hansen, the small valley vet. We meet him lassoing livestock, and a girl, as cowboy valley boys do. He’s called out to the calf that’s been totally paralyzed from bites. “Ain’t that a crock,” says Walt as the calf dies (This guy must be related to Scatman from my previous review of The Rats).

Across town, a mechanic comes across one hell of a big spider whilst picking webs off tyres in his storeroom. He spits on it and walks off. As he shuts the door, the spider gives chase. The Mayor is quite concerned due to Walt’s calf and the chance of quarantine, because the county fair is due soon. Meanwhile, Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) arrives in town from the university due to samples Rack sent over for testing; he’s discovered that spiders bit the calf. She catches Rack’s eyes straight away. Back at the farm as Hansen and Diane arrive, Walt and Birch’s dog is found dead (although the dog is still breathing – he he!) and they find a huge spider hill filled with maybe a thousand or so right near the farm. Diane takes a venom sample from a spider and sends it off, then kisses Dr. Hansen for a while. That night they decide to burn the hill and discover Walt’s bull coated in spiders. As the hill burns, some spiders have an escape tunnel a few feet away.

The next day as Walt is driving spiders attack him all over his face; when he’s found in his crashed truck, he’s in a cocoon. Further back in the fields there are now twenty or so spider hills – Oh ohhh! The Mayor sends up the Baron, a fella with a crop-spraying plane to wipe out the hills. The Baron draws a really stupid sketch of a spider on the side of his cockpit, which looks like a hairy skittle, then does a few circles over the fields before he finds himself covered with spiders. A high explosive crash follows.

The spider armies rampage through the valley, into town and all over. Shatner throws spiders around with a priceless expression, which reminded me of the infamous Star Trek episode, Trouble with Tribbles. He rescues his niece, who for a five or six year old wears very worrying short dresses. He takes his niece and Diane and hides out in a lodge with the Sheriff and a few others, whilst everyone else is cocooned in the invasion. The small group have to defend themselves from the mass of creepy little bastards.

Its a fun movie that actually uses real spiders, and a lot of them! The characters are plastic and predictable, but carry the film well enough. William Shatner is a competent actor as a rugged ranch cowboy vet of sorts. As I said earlier, it’s best to seek out the Shout Factory DVD; extras include features on spider training and a Shatner interview.

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©2010 – 2011 Cinematic Horror Archive, Dave J. Wilson – All work is the property of the credited author(s) and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.

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THE FULL FILM

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The Ward (2010)

Posted in The Ward (2010) [Dave J. Wilson] on 27/05/2011 by Dave J. Wilson

Click here to go directly to this article at its new home at Cinematic Shocks.

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Posted in I Saw the Devil (2010) [Dave J. Wilson] on 22/05/2011 by Dave J. Wilson

Click here to go directly to this article at its new home at Cinematic Shocks.

 

 

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Posted in Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) [Dave J. Wilson] on 15/05/2011 by Dave J. Wilson

Click here to go directly to this article at its new home at Cinematic Shocks.

 

CRAWLER’S CHAOS: Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Posted in Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) [Creepy Crawler] on 11/05/2011 by Dave J. Wilson

A friend of mine gave me a copy of this the other day; I’ve been looking forward to seeing it, having followed its infamous Machete style genesis from the Grindhouse double bill as a jokey trailer, to a full blown film starring 80s legend Rutger Hauer. I’ve always admired Hauer for his abilities ever since watching such movies as Flesh and Blood, The Hitcher, and Wanted Dead or Alive. As for Hobo with a Shotgun, he gives his performance a feel of raw power, like something slowly building to explode. As for the film itself, well…

What is it about the old seventies and early eighties exploitation movies that are so different you cannot copy those flicks today? Is it the low budget, which restricted the effects to only a handful of showstoppers, and instead used a lot of atmosphere to fill in the time? Perhaps it was the cheeky feel of someone out to make money, but at the same time delivered a quality film with some jumps and sick scenes. Maybe it could be an era that simply cannot be duplicated unless by a master craftsman; Quentin Tarantino came close with Death Proof, and no, I’m not a big fan of his, but I saw where he aimed for with the movie – keep the shocks spaced apart for maximum effect.

So, what happed to Hobo with a Shotgun? Rutger Hauer rides into town on the back of a train to a nice theme that has touches of the Cannibal Holocaust main title music, and expects to go about his usual day of surviving as a homeless man. Instead, he’s greeted by a guy with a camera filming fights, in an idea inspired by the Bumfights DVDs – some guy is being beaten half to death for a few dollars. In the next street, Hauer watches in horror as the lead bad guy The Drake, who is the white suited town gangster, and his sons remove the head of their brother/uncle with a fountain of crimson. Next he sees… hold up, stop. This is the problem. Flashy editing aside, there’s too much and it doesn’t slow up. It has a Toxic Avenger style OTT humour that works for Troma, and, say, Bad Taste, but this is done with no spirit. This is gore violence with no style. Maybe I’m getting old, but when I watch tons of gore I like to have as well an interesting story and interesting characters.

Rutger Hauer meets Abbie (Molly Dunsworth), the prostitute he saves from The Drake’s sons, but is sliced up in the process whilst in the local police station with the help of a corrupt cop. She cleans him up and gives him a bed. There’s a brief bit of character building as he tells her about bears – obviously drawing comparison to himself: solitary has its own circle, if you step into the circle it’ll rip your face off. Back on the street, he sees fights, shots, and a paedophile driving past in a car as a little kid screams in the backseat; the paedo laughs like a panto villain. Hauer has had his eyes on a lawnmower in a pawnbroker shop since he hit town, so he can to start up his own business. Seeing its $49.99, he goes to the kid with the camera and eats broken glass for money… I’m not making this up. In the pawnbrokers as he’s about to buy the lawnmower, there’s a robbery – the thieves put a gun to a baby’s head, etc. Hauer sees a shotgun for the same price, wavers on his change of plans emotionally, and then blows the hell out of the three robbers in a hail of gore. He buys the gun and heads out to hunt any criminal he finds, including the evil The Drake and his sadistic sons.

The film has a great intro with a nice old school title sequence and music while we worship Rutger Hauer as he arrives into town. Then the non-stop gory violence and the cartoon characters come into it. If this was the idea of the film, it didn’t pay off well; the spirit of old exploitation movies does live on… but just not in this.

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©2010 – 2011 Cinematic Horror Archive, Dave J. Wilson – All work is the property of the credited author(s) and may not be reprinted or reproduced elsewhere without permission.

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