Cast: Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozak, John Goodman, Julian Sands, Stuart Pankin, Brian McNamara, Mark L. Taylor, Henry Jones, Peter Jason, James Handy, Roy Brocksmith, Kathy Kinney, Mary Carver, Garette Patrick Ratliff, Marlene Katz, Jane Marla Robbins, Theo Schwartz, Frances Bay, Lois De Banzie, Warren Rice, Robert Frank Telfer
A scientific expedition to South America goes into an unexplored region searching for undiscovered species. In a misty sunken forest, a large spider bites the expedition photographer, Jerry Manley (Taylor), killing him. As expedition members prepare the body for shipping, the deadly spider enters the coffin. Dr. Ross Jennings (Daniels), his wife Molly (Kozak), and their kids, Tommy (Ratliff) and Shelley (Katz), arrive at their new home on the outskirts of the California town of Canaima. Dr. Jennings is moving his family to Canaima to escape the tensions and hazards of life in San Francisco. The initial distress he encounters at his new country home comes from his extreme fear of spiders. When a small house spider is found, he keeps his distance and gets Molly to dispose of it. Dr. Jennings has arranged to take over the practice of town physician Dr. Sam Metcalf (Jones), who is soon to retire. The coffin with the photographer’s body arrives in Canaima and is taken to the funeral home. The killer spider, which has been feeding on the body, leaves the coffin unseen and moves to the yard, where it is pounced upon by a bird that flies away with it. The bird soon falls dead to the ground, near Dr. Jenning’s farm house, and the spider makes its way to the barn, where it mates with a domestic spider. The spiders create a nest and produce a strain of hybrid spiders, smaller but just as lethal as their South American progenitor. Soon after the arrival of Dr. Jennings, Dr. Metcalf changes his mind about retiring and Jennings finds himself without patients, except for a local widow, Margaret Hollins (Carver). At night while alone at her house, Margaret is bitten by one of the spiders. The next morning Dr. Jennings finds her dead. Dr. Jennings is astonished by the sudden death, and Dr. Metcalf casts aspersions on his medical ability. After a health check by Dr. Jennings, a boy is bitten by one of the hybrid spiders, which scurries away unseen. The boy dies during football practice at the local high school, right in front of Dr. Jennings. Some of the locals start referring to Jennings as Dr. Death, since people seem to drop dead near him. Dr. Jennings notices tiny bite marks on both bodies, consistent with a spider bite, but is told by Dr. Metcalf and the medical examiner that spider bites are very rarely lethal. Dr. Jennings thinks the unexpected deaths might be spider related and insists on an autopsy. As the spiders spread through Canaima, further deaths occur. Autopsy results are consistent with the presence of lethal spiders, and Dr. Jennings enlists the help of a noted spider authority, Dr. James Atherton (Sands), his assistant Chris Collins (McNamara), and local pest control expert Delbert McClintock (Goodman) in the fight against the deadly arachnids. Dr. Atherton declares that the nest of the deadly spiders must be found at once, before they proliferate into the countryside. With reluctant Sheriff Lloyd Parsons (Pankin), Dr. Jennings and the others must locate the nest and destroy it to avoid the spread of the deadly infestation. Steven Spielberg was Executive Producer.