(In anticipation of the coolest day of the year, this month-long series will offer one recommended horror flick a day up through Oct. 31.)
KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977). Like those Biblical epics of yore, here's a motion picture that can boast of literally presenting a cast of thousands. In this case, though, that number applies to the hordes of spiders seen crawling all over the place — 5,000 seems to be the accepted figure, although at least one crew member later stated that the number was anywhere up to 10,000. At any rate, arachnophobes are advised to steer clear of any TV set showing this effective horror yarn, which managed to produce a handsome return on its half-million-dollar budget during a period when most moviegoers were busy re-watching Star Wars for the umpteenth time. William Shatner, still a couple of years away from the Star Trek movie franchise that would resurrect his career, plays "Rack" Hansen, a small-town veterinarian who teams up with a big-city entomologist (Tiffany Bolling) to figure out what's killing animals in his Arizona community. It turns out that the area's spiders, affected by the pesticides that have been destroying their natural food supplies, have set their sights on larger prey — and before long, humans are finding themselves being attacked, bitten and cocooned. John "Bud" Cardos efficiently directs this entertaining picture that was clearly inspired by Jaws (right down to the blustery mayor worried that the intrusive presence of Mother Nature will ruin the town's upcoming holiday weekend), and the script by Richard Robinson and Alan Caillou is capped by a great ending.