Horrors of Spider Island
horrors of spider island | fritz bottger | eldon howard | albert g. miller | harald maresch | helga franck | alexander d'arcy | spider | monster | creature | west germany | germany | radiation | helga neuner | barbara valentin | rainer brandt | dorothee parker
Film: Horrors of Spider Island (Ein Toter hing im Netz)
Director: Fritz Böttger
Writer: Fritz Böttger, Eldon Howard and Albert G. Miller
Starring: Harald Maresch, Helga Franck and Alexander D’Arcy
This was a movie that I never heard of until I was looking through the list of horror films from the 1960s. I already knew one of the movies going to be featured on that week’s episode of Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast so I wanted a movie I thought might pair with it. I decided on this one and came in blind to check it out. The synopsis is survivors of a plane crash on a remote island find it is covered by spiders. When bitten, the survivors start turning into spiders!
I don’t mean to play my hand too early, but that synopsis makes this movie sound way better than what it is. We start outside of the office of Mike Blackwood (Walter Faber). Gary Webster (Alexander D’Arcy) and his partner Georgia (Helga Franck) go in when they arrive. They’re looking to hire some women to take to Singapore as a dance troupe. They then bring them in one after another, hiring Ann (Helga Neuner), Gladys (Dorothee Parker), May (Gerry Sammer), Nelly (Eva Schauland), Kate (Helma Vandenberg), Linda (Elfie Wagner) and Babs (Barbara Valentin).
Trouble strikes though as their plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean. They make it to the life raft, but water is running low. Gary smacks one of them for drinking more than their fair share of the water, but all seems saved. They see a bird, which means land is nearby. An island is found and they make their way, with Gary needing to carry most of them off the raft due to their condition.
After resting, they find a waterfall with a pool at its base. Finally getting to rehydrate, they explore the island. They come upon a cabin, but make a ghastly discovery inside. There’s a Professor Green, but he’s dead and in a giant spider web. They take the man’s body out of the cabin and settle in. Somehow Gary guesses he was there mining for uranium from a hammer he found and Georgia confirms from his journal.
Tensions run high as the women fight over clothing they find and Linda comes on to Gary. Georgia sees it and Gary decides to walk away, blaming the heat for almost cheating. Georgia on the other hand smacks Linda for what she did. There’s something dangerous on the island though. We saw the web and also glimpses of a giant spider. Gary is attacked while he’s gone and the bite causes changes to come over him. Professor Green wasn’t working alone though. He had helpers of Joe (Harald Maresch) and Robby (Rainer Brandt) who are bringing supplies to the island. Once they discover the state of things, they contact the mainland, but there’s still Gary lurking as he changes into a creature.
Now that’s where I want to leave my recap and I’m going to flat out admit, I think my recap makes this movie sound much better than what it is as well. I’ll start with the positives before I pick it apart. I dig this island. The set-up isn’t horrible. The idea that their ship goes down over the Pacific and them ending up on the island is good. I’m a little confused as to why it had to be a group of women, but I learned this was originally filmed as an adult film It’s Too Hot in Paradise. It was then re-cut to what we have here.
I don’t even think that the effects we get are that bad. It feels like a cheesy monster film from the 1950’s that just missed the era. The spiders looks fake, but I’ll give them credit for making them practical and on top of that, I like what they do with Gary once he starts to change into a spider. They use a lot of long shots, where you can see they did this to not do his make-up and also to hide the nudity of scenes. It is what it is, but I’m not going to give them too much credit either.
My problem with this movie is that it doesn’t feel like the movie that they’re pretending to give us. We get like 3 minutes, if that, of the spider and then we sprinkle in times where he’s stalking our women. Since the footage was pieced together to make this into a horror/monster film, that explains why we get everything else. They really have opportunities though. There could be the fear of this spreading to others and taking it to the mainland or have more actual interactions at least with this creature.
There’s even this odd scene where Robby bounces from all of the women that aren’t Ann, Linda or Georgia, but we’re led to believe he loves Gladys. It just has a misogynistic approach that these women need a man. I really think there are some good things that could have been done here, but they really are just trying to make a quick buck without really putting care into it. There were multiple times where I would have tweaked things and we might have had a decent flick.
I can’t really give a lot of credit to the actors either. Maresch I guess is fine, but he’s billed as our hero due to what he does at the climax. He’s quite awkward though. Franck is probably the best character and they write her as submissive. D’Arcy is supposed to be a man’s man, but he’s not held accountable. I don’t mind him as the villain that he becomes. The rest of the girls are also written as submissive much like Franck. They’re attractive from what I could see, but they’re really just there as eye candy.
Really the last thing to go over would be the soundtrack. I don’t really recall much in the way of it really being creepy as for the most part it has the music you would expect to build up that we’re seeing half naked women in bikinis. It really feels more like they wanted to make a movie like that, but decides we can tweak it for horror fans of the era and they’ll like it. The soundtrack didn’t work for me.
Now with that said, this movie is frustrating as I see some little tweaks and it could have been better. It feels like the footage was already filmed and they decided we can fit it together with a few more things to work. It doesn’t. When I saw this was from West Germany, it makes sense. This seems like a foreigner, trying to make a movie popular in the decade before and it is cookie cutter. It focuses on the wrong things and just is boring. I can give some credit to the effects, but we don’t get enough for it to really help. It just really doesn’t work in any sense. This is a bad movie and I’m giving very little credit for most aspects.
My Rating: 1.5 out of 10