Horrors of Spider Island


Director: Fritz Bottger
(credited as Jaime Nolan)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Horrors of Spider IslandHorrors of Spider Island has a plethora of secondary titles, including Body in the Web, A Corpse Hangs in the Web, Girls of Spider Island, & The Spider's Web. The earliest dubbed edit had more nudity & was distributed as an adults-only film, It's Hot in Paradise (1962), but when re-edited for re-release as a horror film in 1963, it became family-friendly if anyone bothered to rate drive-in circuit fillers.

I remember disliking these sorts of dubbed horror films when I was a kid, & when I grew up I still preferred foreign films to be subtitled. But some horror films are so bad with such bad sound recording that they seem dubbed even when they're not, & Horrors of Spider Island is simply a bad film that couldn't be improved by knowing what the pseudo-actors might've sounded like in their own voices.

Occasionally a really awful German horror film has all the faults of any bad American equivalent except there are design influences lingering from German expressionism, so the cheeziness has a different aesthetic. Spider Island alas has very little of that & might just as well have been shot on the cheap near Santa Monica.

Yet now & then, as when the first victim of a spider is found in the cabin, there's an intimation of that German expressionism in the way the spider web is laid out & in the victim's physical posture. To praise even these brief seconds, though, would be a stretch.

Horrors of Spider IslandThe spider puppetry wasn't bad at all. It certainly did look fake, but I liked it. Alas, after the second victim is bitten by one of these beagle-sized spiders, we never see them again. Instead, we see the transformed Gary, whose face & hands get some spiderman make-up that cause him to look more like a cut-rate wolfman.

The idea of a bunch of stripper bimbos castaway on an island to be hunted down by spiders or by a were-spider has maximo sexploitation sleeze potential, but even for drecky garbage it isn't done with any degree of effectiveness. As soon as they hit the beaches they find all the resources they need in a nearby cabin with plenty of provisions. With so many girls running about in bikinis you'd think there'd be a victim every ten minutes to keep the story barrelling along. But it progresses much more like a beech party movie.

Two guys show up on the island with an excellent boat, so even the tension of being stranded is removed. The girls do go-go dances to rock 'n' roll music for a long, long time. Romance erupts between the strippers & the two guys, one of whom is a handsome asshole, the other who really falls in love with one of the girls & doesn't care about checkered pasts. There's some jealousy, one well staged catfight, scenes of girls swimming, posing, walking...but they experience surprisingly little in the way of horror.

They are saved from the were-spider by its own clumsiness rather than by anyone's wit or actions. As for the initial dog-sized spiders, they must've hibernated or something as they just ceased being an issue.

Even for laugh value this one was was insufficient to win me over, but many a fan of cheap & cheezy vintage horror has assessed it as of the "so bad it's good" category. And it might've fit that category for me if the spider puppets had been put to more use.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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