There was a time when a film about an enormous 50 foot tall mutant tarantula would have been a guaranteed hit. But B movies such as these are not too popular in our contemporary post-atomic age. And this may be a good thing, as it is apparently difficult to make a horror movie about swarms of killer tarantulas without killing a whole lot of the spiders in real life too. This is what occurred during the 1977 filming of the low budget B horror movie called Kingdom of the Spiders. Amazingly, much of the footage showing unlawful arachnid killings and abuse incidents were included within the movie itself. Due to the frequent incidents of indiscriminate mass tarantula killings and other inhumane acts toward spiders during the film’s production, movie productions today are required to conform to numerous regulations concerning humane spider treatment and spider safety.
It is accurately believed that a film like Kingdom of the Spiders could not be made today due to the emergence of an intricate legal framework concerning spider rights in Hollywood. In fact, it was this 1977 film that prompted the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to push for regulations concerning humane spider treatment on film sets. This institutional response is understandable considering the many inhumane actions committed against spiders by actors and crew members while on set. For example, during one scene in the film, two characters are being surrounded by hundreds of living tarantulas within a lodge. During the scene, the actors could clearly be seen stomping on large groups of clustered tarantulas while fulfilling their roles as frightened tourists. During a scene where the tarantulas are attacking a town, hundreds of tarantulas were carelessly stomped on by crowds of extras. In one unforgivable scene of tarantula cruelty, a police cruiser drives on a street covered in real-life tarantulas, resulting in their real-life deaths. The appalled reaction that animal rights activists had toward the film prompted the enactment of spider safety regulations on Hollywood sets. For example,13 years after Kingdom was released, another horror film about killer spiders, Arachnophobia, was released. During the filming of this movie, killing spiders was prohibited, so the crew used the corpses of spiders that died of natural causes to fill in as freshly squashed spider victims. When a spider was killed on screen, a rubber model was used in place of actual spider-murder.
Have you ever witnessed arthropod mistreatment in a movie?