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Horrors of Spider Island


Title: Horrors of Spider Island
Year Of Release: 1962
Running Time: 75 minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: Jaime Nolan AKA Fritz Bottiger
Writing Credits: Fritz Bottiger, Eldon Howard, Albert G. Miller

Starring: Alex D'Arcy, Barbara Valentin
Taglines:
1: Transformed into the world’s most hideous monster with a diabolical lust to kill!
2: One bite from a giant spider turned him into the world’s most hideous monster with a diabolical lust to kill!
3: He strangles his victims with his mammoth claws!
Alternate Titles:
A Corpse Hangs in the Web (International: English title)
Body in the Web (USA)
Girls of Spider Island (USA) (video title)
It's Hot in Paradise (USA)

Review Date: 2.21.05 (updated 1.1.10)

Shadow's Title: "Lost: The UPN Version"

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Horrors of Spider Island (1960)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Horrors of Spider Island  

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Horrors of Spider Island (Special Edition)

Horrors of Spider Island  

 Horror Classics Triple Feature (Bloody Pit of Horror / Horrors of Spider Island / Nightmare Castle)

Characters
Gary Webster – He manages a group of dancers. Their plane crashes and they all end up stranded on an island. He is bitten by a mutant spider, and doesn't get any cool powers like Peter Parker, just transformed into a weird Spider-Gary hybrid who prances about and attacks women.
Spider-Gary – This is what Gary looks like after his transformation. He spends most of his time sleeping in hollow trees and evading everyone on the island, though he pops up from time to time to either scare the crap outta someone or to kill somebody by strangling or biting them.
Georgia – Gary’s main squeeze who helps him run the dancing troupe. She gives him the evil eye when she catches him looking at another woman, or when she catches him smooching lips other that hers. Once Gary disappears, she takes over the leadership role.
Ann – I don’t know where Ann came from, as she is not one of the girls who auditions at the beginning. I suppose she was already a member of the group. She is supposedly somewhat shy, but what is a shy girl doing in a dance troupe where she bares half her ass on a routine basis?
Babs – One of the newly added girls, Babs is by far the hottest chick in the film. By today’s ridiculous anorexic standards of beauty she may be considered a little overweight (I mean just look at those beefy thighs), but back then she was quite the bombshell.
Linda – Definitely where the term hot to trot came from. At her dance audition she stripped down to her undies, assured she would get the job (she did). On the island she was the first to strip because of the heat. She also felt she was above menial labor and refused to help.
Gladys – Another one of the new girls. She, like most of the women in the group, can barely be distinguished from one another, as they all seem like clones of the same airhead dancer. Gladys sets herself apart by being the idiot who falls in love with Bob the sailor in less than a day.
Joe – One of two sailors who work for Professor Green, ferrying supplies to him on a regular basis. Joe is more respectful of women than his pal, Bob and is somewhat inexperienced at talking with members of the opposite sex. He is attracted to the equally reserved Ann.
Bob – This guy is something of a jerk. He's one of those males that doesn’t have enough blood to work his brain and his penis at the same time, so the latter does all the thinking for him. To call him a womanizer is putting it mildly. This guy makes out with four different gals in 15 minutes.
Mike Blackwood – He runs a talent agency in New York City where Gary goes to hire dancers for his troupe. Mike seems to never take off his dark shades. He really doesn’t have much of a part in the film, but he stands out more than some of the cloned airhead dancers.
Professor Green – He came to the island in search of uranium, though how he expected to mine it is beyond me. He ended up dead in a web. He is only in the film for a few brief seconds, and then only as a corpse, but I just had to include a character shot like that one.
 

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

More like "Whores of Spider Island"After an opening credit sequence set against the image of a spiderweb, the film fades into a long street with towering Palm trees on both sides. Ah, Southern California…er…right? A shot of a busy freeway surrounded by hills follows and then we see a car pull up and park in front of a building, the driver doing a lousy parallel parking job – he leaves the guy behind him about six inches of space. He and a woman exit the car.

Now we see a group of young, attractive women who seem to be occupying a waiting room of some kind. A close up of a plaque on a nearby door reads, "Mike Blackwood – Private." The young ladies are discussing Singapore and the possibility of venturing there for work. The couple from the car arrive and the man takes a quick, assessing look at the ladies before ducking into the nearby office. Inside, Mr. Blackwood greets them and we learn their names. The man is Gary (believe me, you WILL NOT forget it by the time this movie is over) and the woman is his girlfriend Georgia. Gary quickly commandeers Mike’s desk while the other two stand. It seems that Gary and Mike are putting together a tour for a dancing group, with the first stop to be Singapore. All the girls in the waiting room are here to audition for a spot in that group. Without further ado, Gary calls for Georgia to let the girls in one at a time.

So the meat parade begins. The girls are brought in and scrutinized. Some are asked to dance a small bit, others are asked to show their legs. One even volunteers to strip down to a bikini. Gradually Gary selects the girls by using silent signals to convey to Georgia what he likes and doesn’t like – sitting back with both legs on the desk means he doesn’t like the girl in question while crossing them means he does. Throughout this whole affair, Gary leers lasciviously at the girls while Georgia fixes him with one disgusted, mean look after another. Eventually girls named May, Babs, Gladys, Doreen, Linda and Nelly are chosen to accompany Gary and Georgia on the tour, which will leave in ten days.

Some stock footage of an airplane taking off is seen next. Amazingly, the plane has two engines as it is lifting off and four once it is in flight! I guess the other two were in the cargo compartment and were hauled out by the crew once the flight was underway. Next up are some aerial shots of New York City as the plane flies away on its trip. Wait a minute! NEW YORK CITY?!! When the hell did NYC have streets lined with Palm Trees or freeways that wind their way through hills? This must be an alternate universe or something. Maybe in this universe this particular film is considered good. Who knows? Anyway, numerous stock footage shots ensue, including scenes of big rolling waves in the ocean. The pilot announces that they are now over the Pacific Ocean near Honolulu. Okay…hold the phone. Wouldn’t you announce that you’re "now" over something at the exact minute you fly over it? How can you "now" be over the Pacific near Hawaii? You just can’t instantly jump from the West Coast to Hawaii. Is this a magic plane or is it just putting Chuck Yeager to shame with how easily it is breaking the sound barrier (and damn near the light barrier)?

"Turn the plane around! There's a sale at Macy's!""I told you that using a cell phone at the wrong moment would screw with the avionics!""911, what's your emergency?"Now comes one of the truly hilarious segments of the film. We see what is supposed to be an air traffic controller monitoring his equipment when he receives a distress call from the plane. The only problem is, this air traffic controller seems to be sitting in the corner of a room all by himself with what looks like a HAM radio on the desk before him. I suppose there was some serious budget cutbacks at the Honolulu Airport that year. The distress call from the plane states that one of their engines has failed and the aircraft is losing altitude. Next we see stock footage of a World War II bomber as it plummets earthward in a near complete vertical dive, almost completely ablaze. This is what the pilot calls losing altitude? I’d hate to be on board when things really got bad! The air traffic controller loses contact with the plane and then we see a close up of the girls as the plane makes it fateful dive. THIS is truly pathetic, as it is plainly obvious to anyone with functioning eyes that the shots of the girls were not filmed on a plane. In fact, they don’t seem to have been filmed anywhere except a big black void. All that can be seen behind the girls is sheer blackness. The entire crash sequence is comprised mostly of these three images: air traffic controller with a HAM radio, WWII stock footage of a bomber crashing and girls in a void. Just repeat the sequence a couple times to get the general idea.

Back in New York, Mike Blackwood is on the phone with somebody and talking about the disappearance of the plane. From his words we gather that four days have now passed since the plane went down and the search for survivors is still underway. Mike takes a couple stiff drinks as he deals with it all and the scene fades out. Before long, the viewer will be tempted to drown this movie experience in booze as well.

Now we cut to the open ocean where the plane crash survivors are huddled together on an inflatable raft. It appears that Gary, Georgia and all the girls made it out alive. However, there does not seem to be any indication that any of the flight crew survived. How convenient. Either that or they are in another boat. Yeah right. So the group has been floating around for four days now and the girls are beginning to go nuts (well…even more nuts than usual). Some are engaged in a never-ending sobbing contest while others beg for a small swallow from their meager water supply. Gary is rationing their supply and will not let them have anymore for the day. At one point a girl spots a bird, which means land must be near and while everyone looks in hope, Babs grabs the water container and takes a good long pull. Gary then tears it away from her and slaps her. Finally, land is spotted and Gary exhorts everyone to start paddling so they can make it to shore.

They make landfall and quickly collapse from exhaustion, Gary having to help each woman onto the rocky beach. And by "help," I mean that in most cases he has to carry them from the raft to land. In some cases he has to fish them out of the water where they have begun to slow from being so tired. However, dumbass forgets to haul their raft onto land and snuggles up next to Georgia as the entire group passes out.

The next morning, Gary is up and about before the others and finds a source of fresh water – a small waterfall. He calls to everyone and the girls come running like there is shoe sale at Bloomingdales. They throw themselves into the waterfall like dying fish and gulp down as much as they can. Now refreshed, the group sets off to explore the island. They gradually make their way through the thick bush, much bitching and moaning accompanying their trek. At one point a girl finds a large hammer. Showing it to Gary, he remarks that there must be somebody on the island. Really, Sherlock? How do you know it wasn’t left behind by someone who is now long gone? But wait, it gets better! Looking at the overly long handle on the hammer, Sherlock Gary deduces that it is for excavating some type of metal…most probably uranium. Quick! Somebody hook this guy up with a 900 number! With a single look at a single tool, he knows exactly what type of metal is being excavated. Screw Miss Cleo, this guy is the real deal! Hey Gary, can you tell me where I misplaced my wallet? Better yet, how about clueing us in on where the plot for this movie went?

"And they told me this new contraption would help my sciatic nerve. Lying bastards!"So the group continues their inland trek and after a short while Gary spots a cabin in a small glade. All excited, they run for the front door, but their enthusiasm is soon dampened when they open it and find the body of an older man hanging from the ceiling in an enormous spider web. One girl nearly faints and the girls all run away from the cabin as if the body is going to suddenly come to life and ambulate in their direction. Meanwhile, Gary and Georgia check out the cabin more closely. Gary removes the stiff (which looks like is hasn’t been dead for very long – a day or two at most) and takes it away into the jungle to bury it while all the girls except Georgia huddle in a group a distance away. Soon, Georgia calls them all back and they return – blissfully unaware how narrowly they just avoided the giant spider that was sitting a few feet away from them in the trees.

Back in the cabin Gary and Georgia are going through a diary left behind by the dead guy. It seems the old guy was Professor Green, who was looking for uranium deposits on this island (score one for Sherlock Gary) and whose final journal entry spoke about his eerie feelings of his imminent demise. A premonition that came true, evidently (is everyone in this film a freakin’ psychic?). His notes also mentioned a weird hissing sound emanating from the nearby jungle but the source was never known to the Professor. Georgia is unnerved by it all and the two decide to keep this information to themselves so as to not upset the girls.

Speaking of the girls, some of them arrive at this point talking about how hungry they are getting. Georgia has made something to eat (just where did that body disappear to again?) and she remarks on how lucky it was that they found some canned goods in the cabin. A couple girls remark on how big the spider must be that spun the web holding the dead professor, wondering how many may still be around. Then the rest of the girls arrive, having found the professor’s trunk of clothing and making use of what they find.

Next we see Gary and Georgia taking inventory of the cabin’s supplies. With careful rationing the food will last the group a month. One girl wonders if they will really be there that long. Gary says that they will have to climb to the island’s highest point and light a smoke signal in hopes of attracting a passing ship. Elsewhere in the cabin, two girls are nearing the catfight stage as they quarrel over a piece of clothing. Gary breaks it up and confiscates the shirt, but the arguing over clothes continues (why am I NOT surprised?). Indeed, the heat and circumstances are taking their toll on everyone – some girls even stripping down to their undies because of the former. Soon, Gary ushers everyone off to bed and decides to go for a little walk, having found the late professor’s revolver. Most of the girls drape themselves out over the front porch for the night, oblivious to the threat of mosquitoes and other insects (have I mentioned how these women are idiots?). Gary doesn’t get too far before one girl throws herself at him and they begin passionately kissing. This is interrupted by Georgia who is quite naturally none too happy. Gary blames the weather, saying the heat is making it to where he doesn’t know what he’s doing anymore. Now, I have heard a lot of excuses in my day for all sorts of things, including infidelity…but this has got to be the first time a guy has blamed his wondering eye (and tongue…and lets leave it at that) on the weather!! What would have happened if a tropical storm blew in? It might not have been the only thing blowing!

So Gary stomps off into the jungle with no shirt on while Georgia bitch-slaps the girl who kissed her man. As Gary makes his way into the jungle (a jungle BTW that doesn’t look the least bit tropical) a storm is beginning to form. This is evident from the sounds of wind and thunder dubbed over the scenes of Gary walking through the trees. We never see the wind actually blowing against the trees, but we sure do hear it. Intercut amongst the shots of Gary the jungle boy are close-ups of that funky giant spider. While this thing may have eight legs, its head looks more like that of an Eagle or Hawk, albeit without the feathers and with giant black eyes. Finally, after numerous shots of Gary, the spider, the horizon and what not, he decides to rest against a big hollow tree. The scene of him leaning against the tree is an obvious day-for-night shot, but when the close up of the Spider who inhabits the tree is shown, it looks more like a cave-for-night shot. There is nothing to be seen behind the spider other than an endless black void.

"Must…not…lose…consciousneszzzzzzz"So now the spider jumps and grabs Gary by the head and throat (the spider is about the size of a large cat). There is a brief struggle, which ends when Gary throws the beast to the ground and empties four shots into it. Back at the cabin the girls have heard the shots and hope that nothing has happened to Gary. However, Gary may have killed the spider, but the critter was able to inflict some damage after all. He collapses, holding the spot on his neck where the spider bit him. When he rolls over, we see that he has changed – and not for the better. His face is now covered with thick tufts of hair, his teeth have been sharpened and one hand has turned into a claw-like appendage. If I didn’t already know better, I’d say he was turning into a werewolf, as there is very little that is spider-like about his new look. He recoils at the sight of his hand, while back at the cabin the girls argue about looking for him but cower in fear as the wind blows down their patio cover. Wimps. Where is Sigourney Weaver when you need her?

Now morning has arrived. Georgia splits the girls up into pairs and organizes a search for the G-man, leaving Linda behind at the cabin to clean up the mess. As the girls wander around aimlessly looking for him, we get a few close-ups of Gary in his new transformed state and…you guessed it, it looks like it was shot in the same void as the close-ups of the spider and the girls in the crashing plane. Not one effort is made to make the shot look like it is taking place in the same area, or at the same time of day as the girls searching for him.

Now comes the part of the film that will instill the name Gary into your subconscious for all eternity. As the ladies wander about, they continually call his name – over and over and over and over and over again. Over a one minute period I counted nineteen times that "Gary!" was hollered by some girl. AAAHH!! Make it stop! As they search for Gary, one girl thinks she hears something and gets creeped out while another has a very close encounter with Gary, but doesn’t realize it. As she stands next to a large bush, Gary’s mutated hand reaches out to touch her hair, but when she goes to leave she just sweeps her hair back and moves on, oblivious to how close she was to him.

Back at the cabin, Linda is traipsing around and not doing a lick of work, more interested in her appearance in a compact mirror than anything else. She saunters over to a nearby pond and reclines next to it, obviously too absorbed in herself to bother pitching in. However, the lesson to be learned here is that laziness begets death, as Spider-Gary arrives and attacks her. She lets out a scream that can be heard by the other girls. This really makes one wonder just how big the island is and just how far they bothered to search for Gary if Linda’s screams can be so easily heard. All the women come running, converging on the pond where Linda is laying half submerged, and quite, quite dead. What is funny to note is that in the close-up, Linda’s head is plainly underwater, but in the long shot of the girls removing her body from the pond, her head is clearly above the water line. Georgia comments that Linda has been strangled while one of the girls notices two puncture marks on Linda’s neck and alludes to death by a spider (naturally).

Night has now fallen (boy that day went by quick) and Georgia is trying to comfort Ann, who is crying up a river. Inside the cabin the rest of the women are stressing out, wondering if they will ever get rescued. Georgia is trying her best to keep things under control, but Babs is being very rebellious. Harsh words are exchanged and a catfight breaks out between her and Nelly. Naturally, during the course of this fight clothes are torn and much female flesh is exposed. Things only come to a dead stop when all the girls notice two claw-like hands reaching through the window at Georgia’s back to caress her face. Georgia screams and faints, while the hands vanish back outside. We get one shot of Gary running away into the trees with his back toward the camera before a fade-out.

Next we see a large ship on the horizon. Atop some rocks, Ann and May are trying their best to light and maintain a signal fire. They yell some, but the ship proceeds on without stopping. All I can do at this point is shake my head at their total and utter stupidity. They were supposed to light the fire at the island’s highest point, so as to attract attention with the smoke…but these two geniuses decides to build the fire on some rocks overlooking the beach! No wonder the ship passed by, the smoke could not be seen against the island’s profile. Idiots!!!

So they despair, thinking they will never get home and one of them mentions that they have been on the island for twenty-eight long days and nights. Ok…WTF??? Lets count the days the film has shown them on the island. There was the first night they slept on the beach, so that is one night. The next day they found the cabin, took stock of the supplies and then Gary was bitten that night. So we’re up to two nights and one day. The day after is when Linda was killed and that night was the catfight between Babs and Nelly. So that brings us to three nights and two days. Suddenly, we’re at the twenty-eight day mark? What happened to the twenty-five days in between? You mean to say that no one has seen Spider-Gary during those three and a half weeks? No one else was attacked or killed by Spider-Gary? Just what the hell has Spider-Gary been doing for all that time? Maybe he found a way off the island! Either that or he’s been hanging out with Gilligan and company on the far side of the island, trying to get jiggy with it with Mary-Ann. Anyway, Georgia arrives to bring the two back to the cabin and the three wonder what they will soon do, as their food will run out in three days. I suppose the professor’s and Linda’s bodies are too far gone at this point…

"Listen…don’t pull that "little buddy" crap with me, now help me unload this junk!"Now we see a small boat being pulled ashore by two men, Bob and Joe. They proceed to start unloading a large amount of supplies, which their conversation makes clear is intended for the late Professor Green. It seems these two jokers work for the late Professor and are responsible for supplying him on the island. Joe goes off to search for the Professor while Bob stays behind to finish unloading, which it seems is accomplished by doing the opposite – getting loaded on booze. As he prepares to take a swig from a bottle, he hears the laughter of females nearby. He quickly runs off to investigate (who wouldn’t?). What he finds is four of the girls in some rather skimpy attire swimming, splashing and frolicking about in a shallow pool by the beach. As Gladys swims by a rock outcropping, a hand reaches out and grabs her. She screams and the other girls all take off, convinced that she is dead and they are next. What loyalty and concern for a friend!

Elsewhere, Georgia and two girls are walking around when they come across the hollow tree where Gary was bitten by the spider. In fact, the dead spider is still on the ground nearby. One must wonder what is preserving it after twenty-six days or so. The three take a closer look and find the gun that Gary had with him the night he vanished as well as his bracelet. Then we get a close up of Spider-Gary in the Black Void before returning to the girls. A hand reaches out from the hollow tree to grasp one girl’s scarf, so Spider-Gary must be hiding within. All I can say is, he must be pretty uncomfortable in there. There is no room to lay down and he must have to sleep standing up, unless like a TARDIS, the tree transcends dimensions and is bigger within than without. The girls continue on, once again completely unaware how close they were to Spider-Gary.

Down by the beach, Gladys is with Bob, who was the one who plucked her from the water a short time earlier. Twenty-eight days on the island is obviously a long time to go without male companionship, as Gladys quickly succumbs to Bob’s charms and the two start necking up a storm.

Inland, the three terrified swimmers come across Georgia’s group and begin blabbering about something happening to Gladys. Somebody suggests that the spider did away with her (a giant, swimming spider I guess) and Georgia relates the information on the dead spider they found along with Gary’s gun and bracelet. Then a noise is heard in the brush nearby and everyone freezes in fear…but it is only Joe, come to see the Professor. Georgia corners him and marches him, at gunpoint, into the cabin where they attempt to question him on Gladys’ whereabouts. When they tell him where she was when she vanished, he seems to realize what has happened.

Along about now Gladys and Bob show up and the two men explain that they work for Professor Green, while Georgia tells them that they are crash survivors. The two men seem to know who they are, as the story of the American dance troupe has been a worldwide story (slow news month I suppose). The girls explain that the Professor is dead along with one of the other girls and that their manager, Gary has vanished as well. Bob suggests radioing their ship, which will return in two days to pick them up, and let them know that the American dancers have been found. The girls all jump around in excitement when they realize rescue is so close at hand.

The girls all talk about going back to New York (the one with hills and Palm Trees) and radio contact is made with the ship. They will be picked up the following day. In celebration, everyone decides that a party is in order. Nevermind that two people are dead and a third is missing! Lets have a party!! Idiots. The girls get themselves dressed up in their "island costumes" which are nothing more that bikinis with some local flora attached to them, stick more flowers in their hair and cut loose in a dance-athon.

The party is in full swing, Joe and Bob enjoying the company of so many scantily clad young women. Ann manages to catch Joe’s eye and he begins to dance with her. Bob, meanwhile continues to put the moves on Gladys, who wants to be alone with him. They make plans to meet at the lagoon in fifteen minutes. She heads off but Bob lingers a bit to drink some more. Joe awkwardly tries to compliment Ann, but just comes off as a dork. They exchange some sweet talk while Bob starts necking with another girl while waiting for fifteen minutes to pass. Other girls take an interest in Don-Bob and he begins strutting around like they’re his personal harem. Pig. Bob moves from girl to girl, but Gladys has spotted him sampling the entire buffet and sulks into the cabin where she admits to Georgia that she loves him. WHAT? You just met the jerk a few hours ago, and now you love him? I think her time on the island and the loneliness it brought has created some severe psychological problems and a deep need for an intimate relationship.

"Now be honest…does this outfit make me look fat? Well? WELL?!"Everyone continues to get hammered, while Bob and Babs enter the cabin for some private time. He starts feeding her lines about being famous and ending up in Hollywood. Outside Joe and Ann continue to grow closer, when Bob and Babs emerge, the latter convincing Ann to walk off with her. The two men share a drink and Joe tries to caution Bob on his womanizing approach and demeanor towards the women. Bob replies with some chauvinistic remarks about Ann and throws a drink in Joe’s face. They head into the cabin for some privacy and begin to beat the crap out of each other, reducing much of the cabin’s interior to kindling in the process. Finally, they begin laughing hysterically and just stop fighting, Bob running off for his rendezvous with Gladys and Joe off to see Ann.

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

So Bob gets to the meeting place first, and sits down against a tree to wait for Gladys. She arrives a few minutes later to find Bob quite dead, odd marks on his neck. Spider-Gary decides to reveal his presence and Gladys lets out with a scream that can be heard all the way back at the cabin…and given how far the film shows she had to walk for her rendezvous with Bob, that is quite an impressive feat. Joe and the others go running to investigate while Gladys flees from Spider-Gary.

Now we are subjected to a series of scenes and shots that show Gladys running from Spider-Gary, climbing a cliff to get away. In all of these shots, the Spider-Gary character is never shown from the front and it is painfully obvious that the actor is not wearing any of the Spider make-up…instead he is just running around with no shirt on. Finally, Spider-Gary catches up to Gladys on the cliff top and the poor girl plummets to her death. We also get a close-up of Spider-Gary that actually has trees in the background! Trees and not that black void!

Joe finds Bob’s dead body (quite dark outside) and on his way back to the cabin (light again) is accosted by Spider-Gary. Again all the location shots show Spider-Gary with no visible make-up, but the close-ups show the same trees in the background – proof that these shots were filmed at different times and at different locations. Joe and Spider-Gary fight some before Joe is able to escape. Back at the cabin he tells Georgia that Bob as well as Gladys are ready for a job pushing up daisies. Then Spider-Gary arrives and breaks his way into the dark cabin. As he makes his way to a cowering Georgia, she recognizes him. Some humanity must remain in him, as he then turns away from her only to be confronted by Joe. The two face off again in the cabin and it looks like curtains for Joe, that is until Georgia lights a flare and drives off Spider-Gary.

This gives Joe an idea, and armed with flares, he and the remaining girls head off into the woods to hunt down Spider-Gary, who is obviously afraid of fire. Some long chase scenes ensue as they find him and pursue him over half the damn island, accompanied by some "hip" chase music. They eventually drive Spider-Gary into a large flat area near the coast that is filled with quicksand. Spider-Gary is soon trapped and slowly sinks to his death.

Looking back at the Island of Lost Careers.Then we see a shot of a boat leaving the lagoon. Another shot shows us Joe and the surviving women on deck, looking back at the island. Then POW, the movie is over. No "The End," no end credits…just bang, back to the DVD menu. Like a slap in the face, the viewer is jolted back to reality. This only occurs with the Alpha Video version of the film. The Something Weird release, besides being a much better print of the film, contains the actual final shot of the boat (as seen from the island) with the words The End superimposed over it.


The End.

 

Review

I have this sneaking suspicion that since the dawn of the technological age, the first application for each new medium that has come along is pornography. I’m sure the printing press was no sooner invented than naughty drawings were circulated to the depraved masses demanding such fare. The camera was probably barely out of the testing phase when some nit thought that aiming one at a naked woman would make for some jolly times. Hell, porn (and Star Trek) practically built the internet as we know it – despite Al Gore’s contributions. So, it comes as no surprise that motion pictures focusing on naked, or nearly naked women was in no way something new in the 1950's.

Of course, the age when films could focus solely on sex and skin to the exclusion of all else was still a few years away, so producers had to get creative in their endeavors so as to make their product somewhat more acceptable. Horrors of Spider Island is one such film. Shot in black and white in Germany in the 1950's, it was originally released in the United States as It’s Hot in Paradise in 1962 and played the grindhouse theater circuit, thinly disguised as a horror film. Reissued in 1965 as Horrors of Spider Island, it had it’s nudity edited out and marketed more as a straight horror movie, now cut down from it’s original 84 minutes to a 75 minute running time. Despite the passage of years and the changing of societal mores, it still cannot avoid being seen as the exploitation film that it is, and coupled with it’s ultra cheezy monster themes, sits as one of the forgotten "B" movie treasures of a bygone era.

Oh. My. God. I don’t even know where to begin. From the poor black and white photography, horrendous dubbing job, low-grade production values, completely idiotic characters, stock footage padding, Z grade monster FX and sheer cheesecake factor, this movie is seemingly loaded with all the proper ingredients for a true cinematic train wreck. Yet, for some truly inexplicable reason, I found it not only watchable but strangely, and dare I say disturbingly, enthralling as it unfolded.

It isn’t just the sight of all that female flesh on parade. Sure, a couple of the girls are curvy and cute…but I didn’t really find too many of them that attractive to look at. I can think of more recent films that were much better in that category. And Babs! Look out! That woman is almost Amazonesque. In some shots she looks beefier than Gary! I could almost hear the cabin creaking and shaking in despair as she clomped around inside. Don’t get me wrong, I like a woman with meat on her bones, but this woman looked at times like she ate the flight crew. A few more days on the island and Spider-Gary might not have been the only one hunting down the others.

The strange appeal of this movie certainly isn’t because of the monster, either. Spider-Gary has got to be one of the silliest monsters, in both execution and origin, to ever grace the silver screen. He is bitten by a strange, over sized spider and he turns into…the dogface boy? I swear the finished product reminded me of those portraits of inbred royalty a few centuries back that were covered in hair from head to toe. It certainly didn’t remind me of a spider! He didn’t even climb walls, sprout extra limbs or shoot webs out of his ass. Plus, the overall rampage he went on was about as thrilling and scary as the speed bumps in your local strip mall parking lot. The taglines and promotion for the film really made it out that once transformed, Gary became a veritable killing machine. Well, what kind of killing machine takes a three and a half-week break between kills? That is not a rampage, that’s just an annoyance.

That interest generated by this film sure as hell ain’t because of a riveting story with earnest characters. Most of the girls seem like carbon copies of one another and the "plot" is as about as exciting as an afternoon at the Department of Motor Vehicles. All the women, with the exception of Georgia, are portrayed as weak, incompetent, mostly useless and utterly unprepared to survive, while the film makes it clear that all the male characters are the leaders, saviors and clearheaded thinkers. The only problem, those guys are still morons. Gary walks off by himself and gets bitten. Idiot. Bob, knowing full well that there is something dangerous on the island responsible for at least two deaths, be it man or beast, still walks off alone so he can have a private tryst with Gladys. Super idiot! Joe is the only guy with some semblance of a brain, and naturally the film plays him up as being somewhat inexperienced with the ladies.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about production values…or the complete lack thereof. This film just looks terrible. I don’t know if it is because the film print has not aged very well over the last forty years, or if it is because the director and cinematographer should have been lined up and shot for incompetence. There are scenes that are entirely too dark, even in the infamous day-for-night shots used in times past. Other shots are almost blindingly bright. Just take a look at some of the various screen caps on this page to see what I mean. I tried my best to adjust the brightness levels on them all, but there are a few that just stick out like a sore thumb. Continuity was a word that was evidently not in the vocabulary of the producers. A twin engine plane later has four engines, a dead woman is at first under then above the water level of a pond and the sun seems to rise and set at the drop of a hat in some sequences. However, by far the worst continuity error is the Spider-Gary make-up. It is apparent that all the close-ups of Spider-Gary were shot separately. This is evidenced by the fact that in nearly all of them, he is standing in a black void, as if shot in a dark studio. Still, in these close-ups his entire transformation can be seen – fur covered face, dagger-like teeth, hairy hands and long fingernails. Yet in all the location shots, it is obvious that the actor is only wearing the hairy hands and claws. His head appears as normal as ever. True, this was hidden somewhat by the shitty lighting and use of shadows, but it could still be spotted.

Since this was a Yugoslavian/West German production, when the film made its way to American shores, it had to be dubbed into English. Now can anyone truly say that they have seen a film with a good dubbing job? Be honest! Sure, some films are better than others, but depending on the original language with which the film was shot, and how it differs from English, dub jobs can get pretty bad. This one is NO exception. At times it is just ok, while at others it is horribly bad. Some of the girl’s voices are just so bland that one wonders if the same woman provided the voices for all of them.

Still, despite these setbacks, there is an overall sense of unbelievable awe at the hokiness of it all that transcends the crappy building blocks and elevates the film, just ever so barely, to the level of "fun" bad movie making. In much the same way people stare morbidly at a train or auto accident, this movie compels the viewer to keep watching, if only to see where the wreck is going to finally stop.

 

Expect To See:
Action - Well, there is one plane crash here, but there is nothing exciting about it at all. Quite the opposite in fact. The obvious WWII stock footage makes it all the more comical.
Dancing - The film centers around a dance troupe. Suffice it to say that there is quite a bit of dancing in this flick, though I wouldn't call any of it all that good.
Jungle Hijinks - Okay, so the group finds themselves washed ashore on some deserted pacific isle. However, there is nothing about this island that looks tropical.
Monsters - One mostly man/partially spider monster here. Once Gary gets bitten, he gets hairy in some places, but not others, while his fingernails grow three inches long overnight.
Nature Run Amok - You’ve got some wild, mutant spiders on this island. Yes, they are big, but their bird-like heads and faces really make them stand out even more so.
Ocean Hijinks - Not too much here. Just a few brief moments of the gang as they float on a life raft, punctuated by some girls weeping and others begging for a sip of water.
Romance - Ugh. Once Joe and Bob enter the film, things really go downhill. Gladys convinces herself that she is in love with the womanizing Bob, while Joe is attracted to the quiet Ann.
Skin - Ok, there is no getting around the fact that this film has a lot of female skin. And I mean A LOT. No nudity (at least not in the edited American version) but lots and lots of skin.
Stock Footage - Stock footage of New York city, Los Angeles standing in for New York city, WWII bombers crashing, the ocean, planes taking off and flying…you get the idea.
Violence - All the deaths occur off screen, and the "fist fights" that are seen are pretty lame. I’ve seen more brutal and bloody confrontations at a Sears white sale.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 6
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 12
Cigarettes smoked: 7
Girls who pass audition: 5
Girls who make it to island: 8
Girls who leave island: 6
Times “Gary!” is screamed by some gal: 19
Different stock footage planes used to represent single aircraft: 4
Times a girl is slapped in face: 3
Total gunshots fired: 4
Cat fights: 2
Fist fights: 2
Number of girls Bob makes out with in 15 time span: 4

04 Mins – Holy crap, it’s an Amazon woman!
05 Mins – OMG it’s the gong show...without any gongs!
09 Mins – Wait! Where did those two extra engines come from?
11 Mins – Somebody give that guy the number to AA.
13 Mins – Look! Its Gilligan’s Island!
16 Mins – Don’t you think saving the raft would be a wise move?
18 Mins – I haven’t seen women move that fast since Macy’s white sale!
23 Mins – Women fighting over clothes, why am I not surprised?
30 Mins – Somebody call PETA!
49 Mins – I’ve seen people on fire with better moves.
59 Mins – That guy looks old enough to be her father. Ewww!
67 Mins – Cliff diving works best when you jump into water, idiot!
74 Mins – This reminds me of the end of The Alligator People.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time you get a close up of Spider-Gary, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

"You’re the singing telegram? But
you’re not even dressed
up like Barney! Get lost.
"

"You’re right! That new conditioner
has worked wonders on your hair!
"

Ronny Milsap’s career took another
turn for the worse.

 "
How many times do I have to
explain this? You hit the nail with
this end! Sheesh!"


"These performance art cafes
can really blow at times, ya know?"

"I got your RAID right here, pal!"

"
It goes better with my ass!"

"No, it goes better with my ass!"


 
"Look, just you tell no one about
my little performance issues and
good old Ben Franklin will stopping
by your place later, ok?"


Scenes from the previously
believed to be lost sequel to
The Violent Years.

"Mirror, Mirror in my hand,
Who is the ugliest bitch in the land?"

When a friendly game of musical
chairs becomes a grudge match.

Smile, you’re on candid camera!

 

Immortal Dialog

Mike Blackwood on the missing people.

Mike Blackwood: "There's absolutely no reason yet to fear the worst. Until now, we only know that the plane caught fire and that we've lost radio contact."

Shadow’s comment: Yeah, nothing to worry about at all.


Aboard the raft, the constant sobbing takes it’s toll on Gary.

Girls: sobbing
Gary: "Stop that bawling, you’re driving us all nuts!"

Shadow’s comment: Such sensitivity. No wonder they gave up looking for him so soon.

 

Babs cuts in while Bob dances with another girl.

Babs: "Hello, Daddy-o. How about throwing those lamps on somebody else for a change?"
Bob: "Yeah, baby. Like you swing, too."

Shadow’s comment: WHAT? Speak English!

 

Keep In Mind
  • There is a previously unknown sixth New York City borough that is home to hills and palm trees.
  • It is possible to audition for a dance troupe and get hired without actually having to dance.
  • World War II bombers were outfitted as commercial passenger craft after the war.
  • The failure of a single engine will cause an entire plane to burst into flames and instantly send it plummeting earthward.
  • Uranium is most easily excavated with long hammers.
  • Heat can be blamed for infidelity.
  • Sleeping outdoors in the tropics wearing only a bathing suit won’t lead to insect bites.
  • Bites from weird-ass spiders don’t always bestow cool super powers.
  • Having a party, even after mysterious deaths and disappearances, is perfectly logical.
  • Being one of two men on an island full of hot, lonely women is a very good thing.



This Film & Me

I had never heard of this film until I saw it in the cheapie bin at Suncoast, where it and other releases from Alpha Video were five bucks each when you bought five titles. What B-movie fan can pass up such a deal? Anyway, I got the movie home and popped it into the old DVD player a few nights later as I was preparing to go to sleep. I figured that I would quickly doze off within a few minutes and need to catch the remainder of the film the next day. Imagine my surprise when I got totally hooked on the film and was unable to sleep until it was finished! Now, to be clear…I was not hooked because of a riveting story, or great monster FX or even the prospect at lots of bare female flesh (though that in itself is not a bad thing). No, I was hooked because of the sheer cheesiness that was on display – the horribly bad, yet still good in a fun way production values, the atrocious dubbing job, the colossal stupidity displayed by the characters – all of that and more combined to make a film that was definitely bad, yet still fun to watch in a MST3K way. I knew instantly that this film was going to get bumped up the list of movies I had already determined to review for this site.

Shadow's rating: Five Tombstones



The Good

  • Lots of hot chicks
  • Lots of hot chicks in skimpy outfits
  • Yeah...that's about it.

The Bad

  • Lighting continuity is terrible
  • No one on this island has a lick of sense
  • For a dance troupe, these gals have horrible moves
  • Only about 20% of Gary's body transforms after spider bite

The Ugly

  • Terrible use of stock footage
  • The dubbing flat out sucks
  • Goofy looking giant spider
  • "Spider-Gary" not in monster makeup much of the time

 

 

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