Horrors of Spider Island (1960)
Written and Directed by Fritz Bottger
Tagline: "Shock upon shock! Terror upon terror!"
Run Time: 77 min
Other Titles: "Ein Toter hing im Netz"
“The boys will be surprised when they see how we’ve dressed ourselved up in our island costumes! They promised us real whiskey!”
- Hot babe rejoicing at her rescue
This horrid German production was originally quite raunchy. Released as "Adults Only" in the United States in 1962, (entitled "It’s Hot In Paradise"), the film was a little too lewd for the general public. "It’s Hot In Paradise" was pulled from the theaters, had all the nudity cut out, and was re-released as a sci-fi / horror picture under the lurid title of "Horrors Of Spider Island".
Needless to say, the film, never intended as a horror movie, was a complete failure. The story makes very little sense, the special effects are ludicrous, the dubbing terrible, and the acting is wooden, when they even bother to act.
In its defense, there are quite a lot of hot babes, bikinis, and dancing. So let’s get started.
We open in a ‘talent’ recruiting agency in, *ahem*, Hollywood. The waiting room is full of young (read: hot) women trying out for a dance troupe which will be performing in Singapore (!). The women exchange innocent banter while adjusting panty-hose and bras, until the troupe director, Gary , enters the lobby and procedes into the office of the talent scout, Mike Blackwood. (Wow! How long did it take to think up that name?)
In the office, Gary fires up a smoke as the girls come in one at a time for their, er, ‘audition’. The first girl is named Mae. After doing a single twirl, Gary asks to see her legs. Mae raises her skirt and is immediately told that she is hired. (Man, I love this movie already!)
The next girl doesn’t know anything about dancing and is quickly dismissed. (Which seems odd since they are recruiting for a dance troupe, so why the hell did she bother showing up?)
Next in is the Teutonic blonde, Babs. She immediately raises her skirt without being asked, and through some stiff dialog, we learn that she will play the role of the ‘slutty blonde’ for the duration of the film. Needless to say, Babs is hired.
We continue with the recruiting process. Next is a ballerina who performs a little ditty in the office. Yes. I’m watching a ballet performance in a film entitled "Horrors of Spider Island". She’s dismissed. Not slutty enough.
Doris and Maureen come in next. "These babes have been working together as a duo number," we are told. (Duo, yes. Babes, no.) For some reason, they’re hired. Most likely as spider bait.
In comes Linda. A sultry, brunette who says hello and immediately sheds her dress revealing a bikini that’s, how shall I say, struggling to keep its contents in place. "Are you a stripper?", asks Gary. "Sometimes…", replies Linda. (Hire her! Please! Hire her!)
Yes! She’s hired!
Boy, it almost makes you forget that this is a horror movie.
Next is Barbara. "Let’s see her dance," suggests Mike. Yes, let’s. Barbara certainly shakes he stuff and spins quite delightfully, to say the least. Oh yes. She’s hired.
As luck would have, or shall I say, as the script requires it, the plane that Gary and the girls are flying in crashes into the sea. (The terror of the plane crash is created by having 2 of the girls ‘scream’ while standing in front of the camera.)
Back at the Blackwood Agency, the talent agent is fielding a phone call. "…there’s absolutely no reason yet to fear the worst. Until now, we only know that the plane caught fire and we’ve lost radio contact."
Nope. No need to worry at all.
Despite the fact that the flaming plane was shown crashing nose first into the sea at 300 miles-per-hour, we see that Gary and the girls have managed to inflate a rubber raft and stock it full of drinking water. (Some of the girls still have their high-heels on!) Gary tries to cheer up the girls who are still sobbing after four days. "A ship has to go by here sometime…" (Yeah, it’s only the freakin’ Pacific Ocean…I’m sure you’ll be rescued any second now…)
Land is eventually spotted. I would suspect that this is the titular "Spider Island", but we’ll just have to wait and see.
The survivors paddle ashore and collapse, exahuasted, onto the beach.
While the women lay on the rocks recovering (because they’re women) Gary discovers a waterfall (because he’s a man). Gary cups his hands and drinks deeply of the fresh water, but of course, he removes his shirt first.
Upon hearing his calls of "Water! Water! C’mon! C’mon!", the girls run over and drink their fill. (A couple of the women make sure to stand under the falls ensuring that their dresses become soaking wet for our viewing pleasure.)
After walking a bit…looking around for…someting…one of the girls finds a hammer. "There must be someone on this island!", says Gary. (No s**t, Sherlock.) As Gary holds the long-handled hammer in his hand he notes, "A hammer…with a long handle…it must be for the purpose of excavation some sort of metal…most probably uranium. [!!!]" (How in the hell Gary, a dance troupe leader, could know this is beyond me. He probably just wanted to look smart in front of all the babes.) ("Can you eat that?", asks one of the girls. Whether she’s refering to the hammer or to uranium is unclear.)
After walking a few more feet, they group stumbles across a cabin. Gee! Yea! Running to the door, the girls giggle and laugh. We get our first taste of spider horror when the girls open the door only to find a (remarkably well preserved) dead guy hanging in a (rope) spider-web. Horror!
"Let’s get out of here!", says one of the girls, in what is arguably the smartest line of dialog so far. ("A dead man…in a huge web!", a particularly observant girl also notes.) When the girls run out to the woods, a huge, and dare I add, ridiculous looking spider tries to grab one of them with a clawed hand! (Oh brother!)
Gary, being the man, cuts down the body and buries it out in the woods. The cabin, now free of the yucky body and icky-yucky web, is quickly inhabited by the dance troupe.
Later that night, we discover that the dead guy, now identified as Professor Green, had kept a journal. One of the girls, Georgia, sits on the edge of a bed and says, "The poor Professor…when he made the last entry in the diary, he didn’t know how horribly he would die…" (Probably not. I suspect that if he had known, he might have mentioned it in his diary.)
It turns out the Professor had discovered uranium deposits, "…but they won’t help him now," Gary says. Boy, the insight of this dialog is amazing. Green’s diary also told of a "strange hissing" that he often heard. Anyway, Gary and Georgia are about to kiss (or maybe they did kiss and it was edited out), when the other girls come in to eat. The eagerly set into some canned goods that were found in the cabin, still remarking on the days events. "Boy, it must have been a really gigantic spider to be able to spin such a huge web," says one of the girls. Gee….you think?
People say things and things happen. Gary and Georgia (his favorite) inventory the food. Babs and another girl get in a fight over a sweater they found in the Professor’s belongings. (Why the Professor needed a sweater on a tropical island is not explained.)
Noting how hot it is, Linda (the ‘sometime’ stripper) begins to shed her clothes. Babs heads out to take a shower. (Unfortunately, I’m not able to review the uncut version of this film. I suspect there was not a few gratuatous boob-shots in this scene.)
"C’mon girls, it’s night, let’s go to sleep," says Gary in wayyyyy too fatherly manner. For some reason, despite being, you know, adults, the dancers take off their shirts and pile into their beds. Gary just happens to find the Professor’s revolver which was laying in plain site the whole time. When one of the girls asks him if he’s going to bed, Gary (now shirtless again and with unbuttoned pants!), says he’s going to go out for a walk.
Yep. Hissing noises. A dead dude hanging in an enourmous web. An unexplored island. A walk, alone, at night, sounds like a greeeaaatttt idea!
To nobody’s great surprise, Gary ends up bitten by a spider. Not just any spider, but a spider with buck-teeth, claws, and sinister looking eyebrows. If anybody can remotely identify the genus of this arachnid, I’d really like to know.
OK, as I said. Gary is bitten on the neck and collapses on the ground. When he looks up, we now see that he has grown fur, fangs and claws. No kidding. I really would like to know what kind of spider this is. Please.
The next morning, Gary hasn’t returned to the cabin. The girls split up to search for him. (Linda remains behind to "clean up".) The girls stumble around the jungle shouting, "Gary! Gaaaarrrryyyy!", but to no avail.
As noted, Linda remained behind. By herself. All alone. Nobody with her. Can you guess what happens next? Give yourself 2 points if you guessed that Gary would sneak up and kill her. (When the girls find her body, the soundtrack starts up with a sexy sax riff…what’s with these films that play sultry music when bodies are discovered…yech.)
"How awful," notes somebody upon seeing 2 huge fang wounds on Linda’s neck. "She’s been strangled!" another says in an apparent misdiagnosis.
Now the girls are starting to unravel. (But they still look pretty hot.) Georgia calms the others and takes charge of the situation. Well, another cat fight ensues…Babs and another throw each other around before winding up on a bed, rolling around, and tearing at each others clothes. The cat fight ends. Two clawed hands reach through the window and are about to grab Georgia by the neck. Georgia screams and the claws pull away. Why? For no reason. Just like everything else in this film.
Well, time passes. I guess. A ship sails by but doesn’t see their smoke signals. One of the girls (awkwardly) exposits that they’ve been on the island 28 days and only have food for 3 more days. Ok, more sax music, more scenes of the island.
Wait! A couple of men arrive on the island in a row boat, and begin unloading supplies onto the beach. (A row boat?!) Through more exposition, terrible, awkward, clunky exposition, we learn that these 2 men were sent to help the professor. One man goes to find the professor. The other opens a bottle of booze. Great movie.
Guy #1 hears the girls giggling and climbs a tree to see them skinny dipping. Ummm. Let’s see what just happened here. One of the girls swims off and is grabbed by Gary(?) who is hiding behind a rock in the water. Upon hearing her screams, Babs remarks, "Quick girls, we’re in danger. Make for the beach," with about as much enthusiasm as a kid giving an oral recitation for summer school.
Cut to see other girls, I think, walking around the island. They just happen to come across the spider that Gary shot…you know…the one that bit him 28 days ago!
Anyway, one of the Professor’s assistants is getting personal with one of the girls. (Sorry, mentioning character’s names was not a top priority when the film was made.) The other assistant, Joe, strolling around the island, is ambushed by the girls and held at gunpoint. (You’d think that since they are, well, trying to be rescued, they’d be a bit more hospitable.) Oh Ok, now I get it. They suspect Joe of abducting Gladys down in the water. (Whatever, really. Don’t worry about it.)
Ahhh, at that moment up comes Gladys. Guy-1, Bobby, is the one who grabbed Gladys in the water and ended up making up with her.
This movie is really, really, really, bad.
Moving right along. Bobby says that the research ship is returning in 2 days. So what to do until then?
Have a party!
The girls put on their bikinis (where in the hell did they get those from?!) "The boys will be surprised when they see how we’ve dressed ourselved up in our island costumes!", says one. "They promised us real whiskey!", giggles Babs.
OK. We now see, well, women dancing in bikinis. What else can I say?
Lots of bikinis. Lots of dancing. Lots of jiggling.
Let’s speed this up.
Bobby and Gladys plan to get to know each other…down by the lagoon.
Gladys goes inside to…do something.
Joe and Ann flirt.
Bobby starts making out with Babs.
Bobby stands up and starts making out with somebody else.
Joe makes out with Ann.
Gladys comes outside and sees Bobby making out with Babs.
Or is it somebody else.
You know, there really hasn’t been a lot of, oh, horror, in this movie.
For some reason, Joe and Bobby get in a fight. Instead of fighting outside, the go inside, I assume so they can smash up as much furniture as possible. Yes. I was right. Anyway, after punching each other a few times, they realize the absurdity of fighting over the dancers ("Dancers are just hot goods for cold nights," Bobby mentions.). Smiling, Bobby and Joe laugh and go back outside.
Man, are there any spiders on this island?
Bobby goes down to the lagoon for his rendevouz with…somebody…Gladys? I don’t know. When Gladys (?) arrives, she finds Bobby dead with the telltale bite marks on his neck. Yes, it’s Gladys. She screams as Spider-Gary (remember him?) gives chase.
In what was probably intended to be excited, we see Gary chase Gladys around the island. Doing the smart thing, Gladys climbs a limestone cliff (!!). Well, up on the top, Gary corners Gladys on the edge of the cliff and shoves her into the sea.
To make a long story short, Joe finally comes across Gary in the forest and a fist fight ensues. Sort of. Somehow, Gary and Joe end up back in the cabin where we can watch the fight in the darkness. (Probably so they could obscure the ridiculous make-up job on Gary’s face.) Just as Gary gets the best of Joe, Georgia shoves a sparkler, I mean flare, in Gary’s face and he runs off. (Spiders hate sparklers.)
"We can only destroy him with fire," says Joe as he hands out torches (!!) to the girls. Armed with their torches, Joe and the girls head out to confront Spider-Gary. Gary is finally discovered cowering in a bush, and is driven out by the flares. (Torches…whatever.)
Unfortunately for Gary, he runs off and gets stuck in a pool of quicksand (!), where he sinks and dies. (I thought only flame could kill him? Oh well, if you’re still awake at this point, your brain is probably so numb you wouldn’t remember that little detail.)
The girls are rescued and return to society.
The End. No really. The end.
You can go now. No more bikinis.
Dennis Grisbeck (July 2005)
Man, this was one bad movie. You wonder why there weren’t anymore West German horror movies after 1960? Watch this one.