Saturday, April 05, 2008

Horrors of Spider Island

Fritz Böttger's 1960 masterpiece was filmed in German then dubbed into English in 1962. Those two extra years did not help it age any better.
In German it's called Toter hing im Netz, Ein, but in English, it was first called It's Hot in Paradise, then re-edited and retitled Horrors of Spider Island. It's also been known as A Corpse Hangs in the Web, Body in the Web, Girls of Spider Island, and The Spider's Web.
Eight dancing girls and a talent agent, Gary, are flying to a job in Singapore, but the plane crashes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Gary and the girls manage to make it to an island. But they find a giant spider's web with a dead body in it! Pretty scary, eh kids? Even worse, all the dancers start making passes at poor Gary. Stuck on an island with eight women -- no wonder he decides he needs some alone time! And that of course is when he is bitten by a radioactive spider.
Gary mutates into a *ahem* spider-man and slowly starts taking out the girls. And I don't mean dating them.
Then a rowboat with two guys show up. On the island. In the middle of the Pacific. That's a hell of a row. Anyway, they find the girls skinny-dipping in a pond. That figures. The guys call for a rescue ship that will arrive in two days. The girls decide to celebrate by getting into bikinis and dancing. There is much debauchery as the guys from the rowboat score with almost all of the girls.
After about 30 minutes of this nonsense (but it felt like it could have been hours), the film suddenly remembers that this is a man-eating radioactive spider-manbeast movie, and spider-Gary resumes chowing down on the cast.
Strangely enough, there is some pretty effective camera work here in the last act as the tension and thrills get ramped up. At least director Böttger was smart enough to save his best stuff for the end of the film.
You'd think this would be a great movie. After all it has everything a great movie needs: a radioactive spider, a hideous monster, and lots of nubile dancing girls who seem to need little excuse to strip down to their underwear.
But no. The acting is often atrocious. The dubbing is awful. The plane crashes to swinging jazz music.
The movie is laughable.

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