Horrors of Spider Island
One bite from a giant spider turned him into THE WORLD'S MOST HIDEOUS MONSTER with a diabolical lust to KILL!
Year of Release: 1960
Also Known As: Ein Toter hing im Netz
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 84 minutes (1:24)
Director: Fritz Bottger
Helga Franck ... Georgia
Alexander D'Arcy ... Gary Webster
Harald Maresch ... Joe
Rainer Brandt ... Robby
Helga Neuner ... Ann
Barbara Valentin ... Babs
Dorothee Parker ... Gladys
Gerry Sammer ... May
Eva Schauland ... Nelly
Helma Vandenberg ... Kate
Elfie Wagner ... Linda
An airplane enroute to Singapore carries with it a group of female dancers and their manager but, unfortunately, crash lands in the ocean somewhere in the South Pacific. All survive and make their way to an uncharted island where they set up residence. When the manager is bitten by a strange spider, he is transformed into a spider-like man beast.
Horrors of Spider Island, remindin' us that after a month with nothin' but clams to eat, it's only natural for a tribe of shipwrecked women to recognize each other by screams alone.
And speakin' of pickin' hair outta yer teeth, I like Thanksgivin' as much as the next guy, and I 'specially like seein' Mrs. Sadie try unsuccessfully to stuff 'er gourds into that "sexy pilgrim" costume she bought on clearance at Hoedown Women's Apparel and Girdle Gallery, but I think I been put off turkey permanently this year.
Why can't we just have macaroni and cheese like those guys who sit at home cleanin' their guns and payin' $3.99 a minute to talk to menopausal fat women from Iowa who fake orgasms on the side to make enough money to pay for their husband's kidney dialysis? Kinda feels like people only talk about the BAD side of bein' disinvited from all their relatives' homes for takin' a walking tour of congress with 700 of their closest friends, but... okay, maybe that's not a good example. I'll tell ya one goll durn thing, though - I've never come close to havin' my possum baked alive in a pot of noodles and Velveeta sauce.
I don't really wanna go too deep into what happened 'cause it was a pretty scary situation, but apparently Shankles followed the trail of bread crumbs into the bird's chest cavity after Sadie'd stuffed it fulla Stove Top, and normally this kinda thing woulda been caught pretty quickly except we were awash in cinematic controversy in the livin' room due to a bimbonic plague outbreak bein' spread around by Sadie's better lookin' half.
"Can we watch Addams Family Values this year?" Mrs. Sadie asked while Billy, Sadie, and I were mulling over more traditional holiday options.
Mrs. Sadie, ya gotta understand, is from a younger generation. So she don't really understand what this holiday's all about, or why any merciful God would allow corduroy to exist.
"Serious suggestions only, please," I responded as tactfully as possible.
"But there's a Thanksgiving play in it, and--" she started.
"Look, I got nothin' against The Addams Family - it's prolly the only movie adaptation of a TV series that doesn't suck the butt dumplins out of a septic tank. But on Thanksgivin' we watch turkeys like God intended," I summarized.
Mrs. Sadie just looked at us like an 8-year-old whose older brother cut the head off her Barbie and left it rotatin' on the cassette spindle of 'er Walkman.
"Sadie, how the heck could you marry someone so out of touch with the pulse of modern man?" I asked incredulously.
"It's easy when ya don't care whether the modern man HAS a pulse," she shrugged as she got up to put the turkey in the oven.
"Okay, how about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?" Mrs. Sadie tried again, clearly no closer to understanding.
"Yeow go'n haffa eh'plain ih to 'er," Billy mumbled while pawin' through the pile of videos.
"Wouldn't that be 'mansplaining'?" I scoffed.
"You're right - go ahead and stick with that arrogant prick routine. That's a much better look," Sadie hollered from the kitchen.
"Alright, fine. I didn't mean to be condescending. I know you grew up out there in the 'burbs without the cultural advantages the rest of us had, and so nobody's ever bothered to explain the fundamentals of Thanksgivin' cinema to ya," I said, increasing my volume by half for that last part in the hope that somebody who shall not be named might take note and accept responsibility for this poor woman's ignorance.
Somebody did notice and responded by huckin' a can of pie fillin' into my left shoulder blade, but Mrs. Sadie just waited in rapt silence till my back spasms stopped; strangely excited at the prospect of a presentation tailored specifically for her. I know mosta you already know all this stuff so you may wanna skip ahead, but this's what I told 'er:
Rule #1: A genuine Thanksgivin' turkey should make ya grateful for whatcha have - whatcha have bein' a flick bad enough to clear the room of family members tryna discuss the outcome of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, but also fun enough that your laughter makes it clear there's something they'll never understand about the experience that makes 'em uncomfortable enough to leave early.
Rule #2: The movie must be in black and white. This is to remind us that even though a visit to Walmart has become indistinguishable from reruns of Reno 911!, we have still, technically, come a long way as a species.
Rule #3: Because the film's target audience will have recently consumed roughly two weeks worth of calories in a single sitting, their bodies may be forced to temporarily shut down in order to focus all available resources on digestion to avoid explodin' and turnin' the dinin' room into a gastronomical observatory. Therefore, the flick should never be complicated enough that a person can fall asleep for ten minutes and lose track of the plot.
Rule #4: No matter how cheaply made, the film's budget should always exceed the combined gross annual incomes of the two dumbest people in the room. This is because after about eight shots of hot buttered rum some guys start to think they can do better, and without a proper reality check, may try to prove it if given adequate encouragement by their spiritual advisor at the Psychic Friends Network.
Rule #5: Be sure the flick ends on a positive note. This may not seem important, but it may make all the difference for any guests who hafta get up the next mornin' and brave the onslaught of chunkheads tryna kill each other for possession of a PS5 durin' their shift at the Black Friday sale.
I prolly woulda kept goin', but by the time I finished rule #5 a horrendous shriek came echoin' outta the oven vent, and when Billy jerked the door open Shankles bolted outta there, dashed into the can, and flopped rear first into the toilet. Sounded like frozen hash browns hittin' a skillet, and since the grumpy ole cuss wouldn't let anybody fish 'im outta there till his hinder'd sufficiently cooled off we decided to leave 'im be and allow Mrs. Sadie to demonstrate what she'd learned by pickin' out the movies.
She may notta been blessed with the same opportunities you and I had growin' up, but I gotta admit, we were all real proud when she selected The Giant Claw, The Cape Canaveral Monsters, and Horrors of Spider Island. Shankles eventually clambered outta the pot and let Sadie rub aloe on his hickory-cured can, and even though quite a bit of his fur'd gotten fused to the dark meat, dinner, for the most part, turned out real good.
'Course, if you're gonna watch Horrors of Spider Island properly you need the original, intact version of the flick. And so even though it goes against my VHSupremecist beliefs, I grabbed the Severin DVD when I drove home to pick up Apollo since it has all the excised jiggler action restored to its proper, pre-MPAA condition. You probably already saw this one on Mystery Science Theater, but if you missed it and wanna know what it's about, basically, it's about breasts and how often they're able to escape their blousely bonds and sway freely in the tropical breeze. Now, if you were to check out the cover art you may be led to believe that the flick's actually about a guy who grows a tribble on his face so we'll know he's been bitten by a radioactive spider and turned arachnoid on us, but I'm pretty sure they only filmed that stuff on days where the girls had cramps and didn't wanna remove their tops, so I just wanted to set the record straight. On the off chance you aren't yet convinced this's a must-see movie you're prolly beyond my help, but just in case you're still on the fence, here're a few hot takes that may change your mind. First, if you permit ashtrays in a room with a "no smoking" sign, you may wanna take a sick day to try locating your balls. Second, human/spider hybrids are one thing, but successfully shepherding seven crabby, stiletto-heeled fashion models to land without poppin' any inflatable equipment along the way kinda strains credulity. And third, Stan Lee was a drive-in kinda guy.
The movie begins with Dr. Strangelove and his How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Pimp the Blonde modeling agency auditioning the hottest women in the industry who aren't afraid of havin' all hope of a normal life in puritanical 1950s America destroyed by shuckin' their bras for a calendar shoot. Unfortunately, about halfway to Singapore, the airplane captain gets so sick of listenin' to seven pre-Madonna material girls (Ann, Babs, Gladys, May, Nelly, Kate, and Linda) whine about the lavatory conditions that he ends up nose divin' the plane into the Pacific and creatin' an America's Next Top Model/Survivor crossover that absolutely no one asked for. The uncharted desert isle they find themselves marooned upon proves hospitable after Bob Denver levels are found to be within acceptable tolerances for people in possession of an Associates Degree, but it becomes apparent that they might be there awhile after talent manager and aspiring bear boxer, Gary, carries everyone ashore and is unable to signal any passing ships or aircraft despite arranging his milky-white meal tickets into what should be a blinding amalgamation of human lens flare. The next mornin' everyone wakes up, shakes the crabs outta their shorts, and spread out across the island searchin' for signs of room service until they find a cabin containin' a dead man voguing in the center of an enormous spider web which Gary hasta clear so the girls'll quit makin' noises like a locomotive tryna stop before it runs over hobo passed out on the tracks. Then everyone settles in and the boob troop become embroiled in wardrobe drama until Gary gets tired of refereein' evening gown matches and wanders down the road to get outta visual range long enough for his plumbin' snake to quit tryna break the world sit up record, only he ends up gettin' bitten by a radioactive spider the size of a pizza pan and growin' a beaver pelt over his face and developin' a sudden urge to invite David Hedison back to his parlour.
The next mornin', Georgia (Gary's personal assistant) promises to introduce whoever finds Gary to Hugh Hefner, 'cept Gary finds Linda while she's checkin' 'er makeup in the creek and jams his claws through 'er craw, taking the mystery of whether she was born with it, or if it was Maybelline, to the grave. The discovery of Linda's body so unnerves the remaining maidens that Nelly and Babs hafta settle their differences with an impromptu leather strap match that results in Babs' airbags deployin', but there's no decisive winner as the brawl is cut short when Gary reaches in through the window gropin' for Georgia's jugular just as he's struck by a debilitatin' bout of racknophobia and flees at the sight of Babs' bunker busters. A month later, with the island's social dynamic on the verge of (d)evolvin' into an all-out Amazon orgy, two chunkheads (Joe and Rob) row ashore in their sea-faring Wagemaker to replenish the dead man's supplies and ruin everything with the news that their ride'll be passin' by the next day, permanently halting the islandwide clam festival and prompting a nationwide theater walkout of female gym teachers. 'Course, the male to female ratio still resembles a home-ec class in North Texas, so the girls hafta vie for the affections of their whisky-dicked rescuers with a maraca shakin' competition until Rob samples purt'near every tray in the cheesecake factory and starts hasslin' Joe for stickin' with vanilla (Ann). Then Rob and Joe hafta beat each other up a little bit till they get the giggles and after that Rob runs off to meet Skanky Spice who's now prepared to be his lover after receiving confirmation that he's gotten with her friends, only when she finds 'im he's leanin' against a tree with his lymph nodes hangin' out and next thing ya know Mandible Lecter's chasin' 'er all over the island tryna put the bite on 'er bazoombas. I'm gonna stop here 'cause I don't wanna give away the endin', but I'll tell ya this much - if Babs dies, we riot.
Alright, so, is it just me, or does it seem like every time the MPAA tries to protect us from cinematic sin they just end up killin' us a little more inside? 'Cause forcin' somebody to watch this flick with all the boobie shots taken out is a concept so sadistic that Comedy Central built a mad scientist puppet show around it. What happened to Horrors of Spider Island is basically the opposite of what theater owners did to Basket Case in '82, only instead of takin' out all the gore scenes and tryna pass it off as a Comedy, here all the melons were harvested from a German "adults only" farce called It's Hot in Paradise so the film could be repackaged and sent back out as a horror flick. So here's Germany tryna make amends after goin' a little scooters and tryna conquer the world twice, but does anyone appreciate it? No. We excise all that fine Bavarian boobage they sent over as a peace offering and weaponize their gift for use on our own people - kinda makes ya ashamed to be an American, don't it? It's a bummer the Germans didn't know about the recent supreme court ruling that said it was okay to show nekkid people in movies as long as the flick was shot inside a nudist camp, 'cause if they'd known that they coulda just lied and claimed they filmed this sucker in a Bavarian breast sanctuary and that woulda been the end of it. It's not like the chief justice was gonna hop on a plane and fly to Europe to verify that a flick costin' approximately 17 marks was a legitimate nudie cutie, ya know? 'Course that's NOT what happened, and so Horrors of Spider Island ended up in no man's land with too much watusi footage to be taken seriously as a horror film, and not nearly enough flesh to garner sufficient titillation from the masses, and so it ended up relegated to latenight cable until Mystery Science Theater discovered it, frog-marched it onto their cable platform, and put it out of its misery. Admittedly, this was no grave injustice 'cause it's barely watchable even with its hootage intact, but ya can't help but feel like it *might* have found an audience had it not been neutered to protect the sensibilities of our forebearers.
Sorry if that got a little heated but I can't stand people monkeyin' around with art in order to pander to puritanical church ladies who fight for chastity durin' the day and pull copies of the Lawn and Gardener outta their nightstands after the cat goes to sleep. I'll try to be more professional from now on, so let's take a look at the technical aspects and find out if these doofuses had a lick of spider sense. The plot is essentially Gilligan's Island on Bikini Atoll, only that's not actually important 'cause it's really about how many times the director can con Barbara Valentin into takin' 'er top off. We've got a lot of incongruent stock footage, day for night shots, the entire cast survivin' a flaming nose dive into the ocean unscathed, the food supply of a single person sustaining seven, uranium-infected spiders that cause humans to mutate into furries, people changing positions while dead, and a dance audition sequence that goes on long enough to disqualify it from entry into the Short Films competition at the Cannes Film Festival, but if I start thinkin' about it too hard I might end up nit-pickin' on every little thing and I don't wanna come off soundin' like a bully. There's also some stupid stuff that I'll get into later.
The acting, as you might expect from a flick centered around a woman's ability to fill out a bra, is pretty bad, and made worse still by atrocious dubbing and dialogue that would be considered insipid by Lauren Boebert's speechwriter. The male members of the cast are a bit better on the basis that acting was actually their chosen profession, but even the most talented of the lot (Alexander D'Arcy) does little more than draw additional attention to how amateurish the rest of the cast is. You could certainly argue that, given the farcical intent of the production crew, it's a bit silly to get bent outta shape about the acting talent involved in what is essentially a prehistoric titty movie, but overreacting about production missteps that took place decades ago is kinda what I do here and I stand by my irrational criticisms.
Here's who matters and why: Alexander D'Arcy (Blood of Dracula's Castle, Way... Way Out), Rainer Brandt (The Monster of Blackwood Castle), Barbara Valentin (World on a Wire, The Head 1959).
The special effects, while primitive, nonsensical, and present strictly by means of incongruent insert shots (think The Snow Creature), are cheesily endearing in all the right ways. Alexander D'Arcy's makeup job could even be considered decent for the time, and the spider puppets are actually well designed and somewhat unique in appearance when they're not moving. The giant web is ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a way that's earned it inclusion in many television bumpers that utilize clips from public domain movies, and that's really the case for all the special effects in the film - they're not great from a production perspective, but they're bad in a way that makes them both memorable and enjoyable.
The shooting locations are attractive (if not always well photographed), with the bulk of the feature having been filmed in Croatia and coming off pretty convincingly as an island in the Pacific. It's a bit unfortunate that the movie was filmed in black and white, as we're no doubt missing out on a lot where it concerns the scenery, but at the same time the special effects would have suffered greatly from the inclusion of color film, so it's a bit of a catch 22. Nonetheless, the semi-tropical locations give the flick the appearance of having a bigger budget than it actually had in the same way Roger Corman's films made in the Phillippeans benefited from their exotic locales because, let's face it - most of us can't tell the difference between Malta and Aruba if the DP ensures no buildings enter the shot.
The soundtrack is the thing that kills any notion that the movie was ever intended to be anything but a goofy, low-key sex farce. You can hack out the nudity and you can trim the dance sequences, but at the end of the day you're still stuck with a score alternating between Glenn Miller-esque big band music and bawdy burlesque house compositions. It's entertaining for what it is and it works as appropriate accompaniment for the film in its original form, but try watching the flick in its butchered "horror" form with this tunage and it'll have you rolling.
Overall, unless you're watching this one specifically for the MST3K commentary, the additional ten minutes of running time are worth enduring to see the flick as it was originally intended to be seen, as they make it clear that what you're watching is in no way made to be taken seriously. All the same, it's still a pretty brutal slog considering you can watch one of Doris Wishman's nudie cuties and get ten times the jugs, or one of Bert I. Gordon's monster flicks and get ten times the monster. It actually reminds me a lot of Roger Corman's Creature from the Haunted Sea in that its divided loyalties between genres never really come together and ultimately water down both the comedy and the horror to the point of inanity, and for that reason, you'll probably wanna skip it.